Veteran actor Prem Chopra, who was recently seen in Ranbir Kapoor’s Animal, has opened up about his long and successful partnership with the late superstar Rajesh Khanna. In an interview, he shared that while Khanna was the Hindi film industry’s first superstar, he could not make the necessary adjustments when he stardom started to fade. Prem Chopra and Rajesh Khanna have done over 20 films together, including Haathi Mere Saathi, Do Raaste, Kati Patang, Ajanabee, Souten, Krati and Purab aur Paschim.
In an appearance on the Timeout With Ankit Podcast, Prem Chopra shared how Rajesh Khanna had a habit of being late to work. He said, “We did 25 films together out of which 20 were superhits. It was a good experience (working with him). We became good friends, he was a misunderstood man. He was a great actor, the first superstar. But he had a habit of coming late on the set, and many directors and producers would have a problem with that. But this is a business, when you have a superstar, the film is driven by his name and negotiations happen. They’d crib about him not reaching on time but once he’d reach, they would greet him warmly and ask him ‘ab lunch karenge ya shooting karenge (would you like to have lunch first or start shooting now)?’, and he’d say, ‘No, let’s shoot.’ His specialty was that he completed his work every day before leaving, and he would do it brilliantly.”
The veteran actor, best known for playing villains, also opened up about how Khanna found it extremely difficult to adjust to the changes in the film industry after his films started flopping. He said, “He was a very competent actor, and that’s why he survived for such a long time. But adjustment is very important in this profession. When his superstardom started diminishing, they brought in Amitabh Bachchan. He couldn’t come to terms that after being a superstar he’d have to do character roles.”
He added, “Of course, he did that kind of work as well, did some films, but he’d still work like he was a superstar, and it was getting difficult for people to work with him. He was getting frustrated, and during that time he did a television series also. He’d keep things to himself and spiralled into it, but if he had adjusted himself, he would have gone a long way by doing character roles as he was a fine actor. Look at Amitabh Bachchan, he knows he was a superstar but he has adjusted himself and done so many character roles.”
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