DOB: June 20, 1972
Birthplace: Mumbai, India
Residence: India & USA
Long an advocate of animal rights, Rahul Khanna has been an active voice for PETA India in the efforts to protect elephants. He is one of the few Bollywood stars to take a firm stand in the protection of animals. In addition to his genuine compassion towards animals, Khanna set a precedent for future generations of hopeful Indian and Asian actors by creating a unique career path that admiringly showcases a rare level of integrity and strength.
Despite having a Bollywood idol as his father, Khanna chose not the path of nepotism but instead worked hard at honing his acting craft at New York’s Lee Strasberg Institute. While this may seem a logical path, it bears remembering that in all acting industries across the globe, taking advantage of any open door regardless of ethics and fairness is normal practice. That Khanna chose the far more difficult path when he didn’t have to is clear testament to his stellar character. Forging a career based on his talent, skills and hard work, rather than on creating false rumors and drama in gossip magazines adds to his status as one of the truly rare enigmas of Bollywood. Khanna stands as a powerful example to those hoping to follow in his footsteps.
Born and raised in Mumbai, India, Rahul Khanna comes from an illustrious family of established and well loved actors. He is son of Bollywood idol and politician Vinod Khanna and older brother to another popular actor, Akshaye Khanna. Setting himself apart from the typical career paths of most Bollywood actors, Khanna did not take advantage of built-in familial connections to forge his path but instead first studied at New York’s prestigious Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute.
Khanna began his entertainment and acting career in 1994 with the coveted position of MTV Asia’s VJ, a four year stint that garnered him a loyal and large fan base throughout the continent. Khanna’s easy going manner, smooth voice and intelligently handsome looks easily appealed to masses of female fans, creating a built in following for his segue into serious and memorable acting roles. Deepa Mehta’s 1947 Earth became Khanna’s debut role, alongside Bollywood veteran Amir Khan, a role that would earn him Filmfare Best Male Debut Award.
Unlike many of his colleagues, Khanna’s path to success was a bit more unusual in several respects. It was apparent from his debut role that he was not just another pretty face in an industry that places extreme emphasis on actors’ sex appeal and ability to dance. Khanna displayed unrestrained, raw talent the likes of which won the characters he portrayed a permanent place in fans’ hearts, even though oddly, his real name often became eclipsed by those characters. A true testament to his acting abilities, Bollywood fans often recall his characters’ names and even describe the emotions he exuded as opposed to the more superficial hoopla surrounding many of his compatriots.
Khanna successively went on to steadily work in movies both in Bollywood and internationally, including Raqeeb, The Emperor’s Club, Dil Kabaddi and Elaan. He has also had strong success in theatre and television as actor and host in numerous shows such as Discovery Channel’s Discovery Week, Screen Awards and GQ India Awards. He has also been a model and spokesperson for internationally recognized brands including DeBeers, Toyota, Lay’s Chips, Pepsi and Audi.
Khanna dubs himself a boutique actor and it is perhaps this brilliant and humble move that has allowed him to have what appears to be a calm control over his successful career. He has managed to maintain a very popular and loyal following through the years without having his name and image slung around in nasty press coverage as is so prevalent with most actors. There’s a quiet sense of respect when his name is mentioned in industry circles, something he’s no doubt worked very hard to craft.