Rajan Shahi is not a new name, especially in the TV industry. He has made shows like “Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai” and “Yeh Rishtey Hain Pyaar Ke”. Though his maternal grandfather was Dadasaheb Phalke award-winner P. Jairaj, he had his own share of struggle when he came to the industry. The producer says he was inspired by Shah Rukh Khan and first came to the industry to try his hands at acting.
“When I was eight, I did a small role in a film called ‘Masoom’. The producers were family friends and they had come down to Delhi with the whole crew for shooting the film. They asked me to do a small role of Saeed Jaffery’s son. But after my graduation in 1993, my grandfather and I were keen that I get into acting. I was somewhat inspired by Shah Rukh Khan at that time. We were from the same school, and he was six years senior to me. And I used to think if he can make it big in the film industry, why can’t I? During that time, I struggled a lot, I remember I met every filmmaker and TV producer but nothing happened,” he said.
“While my struggle was on for becoming an actor, I used to stand in the crowd in advertisements as the money was very good – like Rs.500 per day. And I didn’t want to take any help from the family, so I thought it was a good way to make money. In that process, I got lucky as one of the directors spotted me and gave me two solo ads, one was for Hero cycle and the other was with Milkha Singh. Later, I did an episode ‘Zamana Badal Gaya Hai’ on Doordarshan. I didn’t play my part well and took a lot of retakes. I remember on the second day, I asked the production guy if he could give me my conveyance as I had no money. And while I was eating my lunch on the set that production guy said, “Dekho aajkal ke strugglers kaise hain, inko kaam bhi do khana bhi khilao aur paise bhi maangte hain”. I felt extremely hurt and got demoralized and suddenly my shot came and I couldn’t perform. That night I thought, am I really good at it? Do I really want to act? Should I struggle more? And at the same time, I realized that I enjoyed the time when I was assisting the makers. I was happy to have everything in my control,” he added.
Rajan Shahi then met a famous astrologer who told him he has no scope of growth in Bombay, and that made him pack his bags and move back to Delhi. However, his parents soon made him go back again to pursue his dream, and this time he wanted to do something different.
“I told my grandfather ‘I don’t see myself as an actor and I want to get into direction now.’ At the time of my acting struggle, I used to chase director Ravi Rai a lot. His series ‘Imtihaan’ was a hit. Whenever I used to chase him for work in acting, he used to tell me agle hafte call karna batata hoon. But didn’t give me any work. There was another director at that time Arun Frank who used to travel by bus and just to get a chance to speak with him I used to take the same bus. So that I can request him to keep me as his assistant in direction. I was getting a chance to become a 25th-26th assistant in the film but my grandfather advised me to look at the television instead of becoming an assistant of a very big film director, as he felt television is a medium for tomorrow,” he concluded.
And look at how things worked out for him. Rajan is creating milestones as he goes. His new show “Anupamaa”, whose launch was delayed due to the nationwide lockdown, will soon go on-air. It stars Rupali Ganguly and Sudhanshu Pandey in lead roles.