Of the three finalists on Fear Factor Khatron Ke Khiladi, namely, Gurmeet Choudhary, Nikitin Dheer and Rajniesh Duggal, it was Duggal who stood the best chance of winning.
According to an eyewitness from Cape Town where Fear Factor was shot, “Rajniesh was a very strong contender for winning Fear Factor. His timing in the stunt sequences was nearly perfect. And his physical co-ordination impressed anchor Rohit Shetty. But Rajniesh lost the chance to win Fear Factor. He was too cautious. The crucial ‘X’ factor was missing in his performances. He held himself in check from going all the way. He would do the stunts perfectly. But he wasn’t daring enough.”
Rajniesh was taken aback when confronted by charges of conservative hi-jinks. But he didn’t deny that he held back at the crucial moment. “It’s true. I don’t know how you got to know about it. The fact is, I performed all the stunts to the best of my abilities. But I didn’t cross the limits of risk-taking that I had imposed on myself. I was sure of how far I would go and no more, even it meant not winning that was okay by me.”
Apparently, Rohit Shetty would often egg Rajniesh on to cross self-imposed limits. “But I didn’t want to break bones and damage my nervous system for a few moments of bravado.”
The one thing that this whole experience has taught Rajniesh is to get over his fear of reptiles. “I was petrified of creepy-crawlies before the show. I was thrown into a well filled with 60 snakes. It was the most terrifying experience of my life. I felt I would never survive that. But I did. And I’ve overcome one of the biggest fears of my life.”
Rajniesh describes the Fear Factor experience as toughening rather than tough. “Since I didn’t allow any bones to be broken or ribs to be cracked, I have come back stronger than before. Winning or not winning was secondary. It was important for me to test my limits and not go beyond them. Throughout my Fear Factor journey in Cape Town, my host Rohit Shetty was like a brother. It was like being in one of his films.”
Immediately after his return to Mumbai, Rajniesh joined the wedding festivities of a family member. “My brother-in-law got married. I returned from Cape Town and went immediately into that. If I had to return to something less happy, I’d have gone into depression thinking about how well I had performed and if I was going to win.”
Rajniesh has returned to a rather interesting movie offer. “It’s a remake of the 1981 horror film Hotel from the Ramsays. But with a difference. There were two heroes Rakesh Roshan and Navin Nishchol in the original. In the remake, the two roles have been merged. I play the merged protagonist.”