Decoding culture

Decoding culture

Tele talk

Decoding culture

A riot of colours, a sea of devotees, and a procession of chariots that transform Puri during the Rath Yatra, will now be showcased by National Geographic Channel in an exclusive documentary for viewers worldwide.

The face of the narrative, actor Rajeev Khandelwal, will unravel the legends, narrate unknown stories, profile the magnificent architecture and decode the layers of faith, culture and mythology that run through this significant event. 

In an exclusive interview with Rajeev, it was evident that he was bowled over by the ceremonies, the grandeur and the faith surrounding the event. The documentary, titled The Legend of Jagannath, has captured the excitement and elaborate preparations behind the Yatra. Rajeev was delighted to be part of the project. “This documentary will play on the minds of viewers. You will get to see the rituals and ceremonies that go into creating such a large scale event, which is said to be the second largest gathering on Earth,” he says.

Rajeev, who went to Puri for the filming, says what he saw and experienced will stay with him forever. “I am an atheist, but I was curious to know what the pull was for the devotees, who gathered from across the country and the world for the event. I watched the preparations and how devotees followed rituals to the letter.”

He adds, “At the end of the day, I am an actor. But this documentary was done purely out of love. It was a special experience for me, and I did not take up the project to show off my acting abilities on screen,” he says.

According to him, there are struggles in every career, but the most difficult challenge for him was to be able to retain his faith in what he was doing. “I always stuck to what I believed in, and I cared about what I did,” he remembers.

Rajeev says that he had always wanted to be an actor, right from his school days. “After my final year of college, I wrote all kinds of entrance exams like CAT and many others, but my heart was not in it. It was then that I realised that I would be a loser if I did not even try to pursue acting,” he says.

The actor’s advice to aspiring artistes is: “Don’t just flirt with the idea. Being in this field should not be just a ‘timepass’. It is not a hobby, and is not to be taken lightly. It is a full-fledged profession like medicine or engineering. Don’t be awestruck by the glamour in the field and most of all, don’t get discouraged by small failures. Getting ahead in the industry is a long process. Be persistent and honest with yourself.”

Rajeev’s best memories in his career go back to the time when he shot his first film, Aamir, in 2008. “The shooting of Aamir is memorable for me. There was a different level of passion at the time and I was also fighting the perception that TV actors did not act in films. But we gave everything we had to this film. That project, those people, that environment and that team will always remain close to my heart,” he says.

Rajeev is all set for the release of his film Fever next month. But for now, he is excited about The Legend of Jagannath. “This documentary has been put together and presented in such a way that the viewers will be left in awe. I am sure that this narrative will engross the audience completely,” he signs off.

The Legend of Jagannath will be telecast today at 2 pm, on National Geographic Channel.

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