Mukesh khanna

Mukesh Khanna: The Legendary Actor Behind The Legend of Bhishma Pitahma

Born on 23rd July, 1958, the name Mukesh khanna reminds every kid and elderly from the 90’s  of the towering personality of Bhishma Pitahma, the most enigmatic figure from Mahabharat. B.R. Chopra’s Mahabharat in many ways is considered to be one of the greatest shows in the Indian Television history. The show made its actors famous irrespective of their caste, creed or religion. The popularity of the actors knew no bounds once the show hit the screens. Apart from India vs Pakistan matches, Mahabharat has entire markets and streets go empty once the show started airing. Two of the most iconic characters from B.R. Chopra’s Mahabharat  were Lord Krishna and the mighty warrior Bhishma Pitahma. The latter had been played by Mukesh Khanna.

A B.Sc graduate and a master in law, Mukesh Khanna also studied acting at the prestigious Film and Television Institute of India. He attended the school along with other veteran actors such as Naseeruddin Shah and Shakti Kapoor. Mukesh Khanna’s career started in the year 1981 with the movie Roohi. After an unsuccessful stint of five movies, Mukesh Khanna was approached by the Mahabharat team to play the character of Duryodhan in the television show. However, Mukesh Khanna till date stands by his rule of never playing a negative character on screen. He downright refused the role. Later he was casted to play the role of Arjun’s teacher Dronacharya for which he readily agreed. But as destiny had in mind for him, he began shooting not as Dronacharya but as Bhishma Pitahma or Dev Vrat. Mukesh personally feels that while acting 60% of the impact made by an actor is through his voice and worked extensively on the same by researching and practicing rigorously for his role of Bhishma Pitahma . Studying innumerable content at Mumbai’s British Library, Mukesh trained his voice to play the ever impactful character.

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According to Mahabharat, Bhishma Pitahma made the vow of celibacy in regards with the promise he made to his step-mother Satyavati. Such was Mukesh Khanna’s dedication towards the role that when he made the same vow on screen while playing Bhishma, Mukesh actually vowed not to marry and have any relations with a woman whatsoever. A Clint Eastwood fan, Mukesh Khanna advocated against good actors being judged by the number of box office hits they got. He believes that an actor should be known for his work than by the ringing of the cash registers.

Another character that made Mukesh Khanna appear on the Wall Street Journal’s front page is of Shaktimaan. Shaktimaan is celebrated as India’s first on screen super hero and was an instant hit amongst the children in India. It is often said that whenever he attended public gatherings he would be confronted by children who requested him to fly like he did on screen and at the same time was bowed to by elders beacause much of his audience from Mahabharat still considered him Bhishma Pitahma.  It is said that an actor is measured by the number of adverse roles he/she is able to play on-screen but Mukesh Khanna proved the other aspect right. He advocates what he plays on-screen in real life too. Playing the honourable character of Bhishma and a child favourite super hero Shaktimaan, Mukesh Khanna never has taken to personal bad habits of drinking or smoking as he believes that one can only be a super hero for the elderly and the children when he practices the habits of one in real life too. He even bashed Shahrukh Khan for his smoking habit on playing another super hero saying, ” How can one play a super hero for children if he smokes in real life?”

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Although Mukesh became famous and still is famous for the two roles he played, his true potential has never been recognised. This can be attributed to his adamant demand of never playing a negative character but is mostly because he never hopped from studio to studio in search of work. The stigma surrounding a star in Bollywood has always been that an actor can only be good if he/she delivers hits after hits adn no big production houses bank on actors that have been a part of a flop movie or two. Mukesh Khanna’s dialogue delivery and his heavy baritone voice is still considered one of the best in his class and was even recommended to  replace Amrish Puri as Bollywood’s super villain but again he refused the offer.

He now owns his own production company by the name of Bheeshma Productions and is also the chairman of Children’s Film Society of India. Among all his accolades, his true potential as an actor was never really discovered by the film fraternity which in itself is a loss for the industry if not alone for him. The only thing that may justify his stature can be that no matter how many actors may come and go, there has been and will be only one Bhishma Pitahma. The legend will live on with Mukesh Khanna’s name inscribed in gold.

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