Mumbai: January 15, 2016: The number-one blockbuster movie Bajrangi Bhaijaan not only became a

catalyst in real life in uniting Geeta with her parents in India, but also reconnected character actor Ravi

Khanna with Bollywood, who, after 33 years in USA, had moved last year to Mumbai. “Mumbai

welcomed me with open arms because the very first role after my arrival here was in the biggest

blockbuster featuring no other than Salman Khan”, says the veteran actor with a happy smile on his

seasoned face. Khanna plays the role of the ISI boss who frames Salman as an Indian spy, jails him and

gets him tortured to force a confession from him. It is a small role but he, as the only villain of the

movie, plays it very effectively in the tension-filled climax of the film. “The roles are never big or small”

says the seasoned actor with a smile, “only the actors are big or small.” Khanna says he is thrilled when

Salman fans tell him that they hate him because of what he did to Bhai in the movie, and the next

moment they request him for a selfie. He was also thrilled to work with Kabir Khan, who like Khanna,

also has a journalistic background.

Khanna wanted to do the role of the antagonist, he says, because “somewhere in my mind this hope

sparkles that I can fill the vacuum caused by Amrish Puri’s sudden exit from the Bollywood scene

because I have the similar theatre background, the same authoritative voice and a powerful stage and

screen presence”. Although he is yet to get the main villain’s role in a Hindi movie, after BB Khanna

bagged the role of Kafour (the main villain) in an Indo/Egyptian movie to be released in the middle of

next year. Khanna says jokingly that although all the RK’s like Raj Kapoor, Rajesh Khanna, Raaj Kumar,

Ranbir Kapoor are protagonist, Ravi Khanna’s RK does not mind playing a villain.

Khanna is also writing a book called the “Indian Antagonist” in which he traces the history of Bollywood

villain, who, he says, has not changed much in the last 100 years of the Indian cinema. If you really go

under the surface, there is not much difference between K.N.Singh, Pran, Madan Puri, Ranjit, Prakash

Raj because all of them in most pictures lead a team of goons who use force against the hero to defeat

him and never succeed. Khanna says today’s villain is still like Kansa or Ravana and rarely like Shakuni.

But whenever we made the villain intelligent and made him play the “mind games” it really worked. He

gives the examples of the movies in which the directors hired Hritik Roshan and Aamir Khan to play the

villain and the movies proved to be the blockbusters at the box office.

Khanna began his acting career in New Delhi in the 1970’s on stage, Radio and Television with his

contemporaries such as Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Dinesh Thakur, Kamna Chandra, Om Shivpuri, Sudha

Shivpuri, T. P Jain, R.P Sethi and Ram Gopal whose filmy name was changed to Ranjit. They ventured to

Mumbai and Khanna on the insistence of his mother went to USA to do journalism. There he worked as

the South Asia Bureau Chief in the Voice of America Newsroom for 27 years. But he kept his interest in

theater alive and kept on acting on stage and screen (in English, Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi) whenever he

got a chance despite his busy life as journalist. He was awarded the most coveted Helen Hayes award for

his performance in Tom Stoppard’s comedy “Indian Ink”.