The war of words between two actors from the popular 80s show Mahabharat, Mukesh Khanna and Gajendra Chauhan, has intensified. It all started when Mukesh put out an Instagram post explaining his absence from the reunion of the Mahabharat cast from The Kapil Sharma Show. Mukesh called the show vulgar and objected to innuendos and men dressing up as women to elicit laughs.
Gajendra, who played Yudishthir in Mahabharat, hit back at his former co-star and questioned why Mukesh did not leave Mahabharat, in which Arjuna dressed up as a woman. Mukesh has now released a fresh video, attacking Gajendra, whom he called ‘Dharamraj’, a reference to the character he played in Mahabharat.
Talking in Hindi, Mukesh had said in his video, “Dharamraj has displayed his lack of knowledge in an interview. He said, ‘Mukesh Khanna did not go on the show because he has objections to men dressing up as women and dancing’. Let me remind him that even in Mahabharat, Arjuna dressed up as Brihannala and danced in women’s clothes, so why did he not leave that show?’ I feel like laughing when I hear this argument, that too from someone of the Mahabharat family, who calls himself Dharamraj, one who always speaks the truth. I think his knowledge of Mahabharat is lacking. After Mahabharat, a lot has happened. He has done a lot of ‘vahiyat (vulgar)’ films. He would not have spoken like this otherwise.”
In an interview with Hindustan Times, Gajendra lashed out at Mukesh and said that he considers himself as an authority on Mahabharat, which is not the case. “If you see the video, he has himself said that he was not invited and that he would not go on the show even if he was invited. This is like ‘maan na maan main tera mehmaan (whether you approve or not, I am your guest)’. When he was not invited in the first place, how would he even go?,” he said.
“Secondly, I think he has started thinking of himself as an authority on Mahabharat. He goes around giving gyaan to everyone. In the process, he has lost his own knowledge,” he added.
Gajendra accused Mukesh of trying to gain publicity by commenting on prominent people. “He wants to comment on some popular people and bring himself in the limelight. First, he commented on Ekta Kapoor and her Mahabharat, criticising it and saying that it was badly made. Anybody has the right to make Mahabharat in their own way. No one has registered Mahabharat in his name. Then, he attacked Sonakshi Sinha, and now he has attacked Kapil Sharma. I think this is an attempt to bring himself in the limelight by attacking prominent people,” he said.
Talking about Mukesh’s attack on him, Gajendra said, “He did not take my name but he said Dharamraj Yudishthir. I also want to respond to Bhishma Pitamah. He said that I have made ‘vahiyat (vulgar)’ films. He insulted FTII, which he has been a student of. He has insulted films and the censor board as well. The censor board is a constitutional body that passes films. Every film is not released, only those that are deemed worthy of public viewing. He said that he regrets supporting me during the FTII protests. I regret that he supported me. I never asked for his support.”
Gajendra also said that Mukesh was only an actor on Mahabharat, not an authority on the epic. “He seems to consider himself an authority on Mahabharat, as if he has done a PhD on it. He has just done a role in the show, same as me. He has no right to comment on my role or career.”
“I also want to say, films are not vulgar. Films are either good or bad, hit or flop. He was a flop actor before Mahabharat. All his films had failed, which is why he turned to TV from films. He was first cast as Dronacharya. Vijayendra Ghatge was supposed to play Bhishma Pitamah, but he was busy with Buniyad, so he had to let go of the role,” he added.
Condemning Mukesh’s remarks, Gajendra said, “I object to his comments. Yesterday, he posted a video on his YouTube channel. I completely condemn it. He should look at himself. Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones at others. Please look at your own career and films. You were tagged as a flop actor before Mahabharat. It was Mahabharat which saved your career. I was just a newcomer. I did two films before doing the show.”
Gajendra said that The Kapil Sharma Show would not have been so successful if it was as terrible as Mukesh claimed it was. “If it is not quality, if it is not fit for viewership, no one will watch it. Crores of people cannot be mad. You can fool people for a day or two, not for so long. The Kapil Sharma Show has been running for so many years. With every episode, its TRP increases. The reason why he was not called on the show is rather interesting. We found out that Sony TV did a survey on which actors should be invited. Also, to come on a show like this, you need to have a sense of humour. He said that he does not watch The Kapil Sharma Show. But in his video, he has described what happens in the show – what was the comment made on Ramayan’s Arun Govil, how Krushna talks… This means he watches the show, he is lying when he says he does not. How does he know what happens in the show?,” he asked.
Responding to Mukesh’s comments that he has done ‘vahiyat (vulgar)’ films, Gajendra said, “I think it is better if he looks at his own filmography, he was tagged as a flop actor before Mahabharat. You look at any of his films before the show. None of them were successful. Otherwise, he would not have the need to shift his career to television.”
“See, I am not from Mumbai and I have no film background. I came on my own, had my own struggle and I built my career on my own. I have done more than 600-700 serials, 200 films. I have done small roles as well as big roles because beggars cannot be choosers. But I have worked in the industry, I have given 30 years of my life to the artists’ association, to serve my community of artists in Mumbai,” he added.
In conclusion, Gajendra said that Mukesh was his ‘senior’ but he will not back down if his comments continue. “He studied at the 1974 batch of FTII, he is my senior. He is older than me and I respect him but it is best that he does not make such comments. If he does, then he will get a response. I did not want to give it back to my senior but I have to because he is forcing me to.”
Mukesh, in the video, had taken umbrage for Gajendra likening Mahabharat with Kapil’s show. “How is he comparing Ved Vyas ji’s Mahabharat with The Kapil Sharma Show? That was a different kind of dance and this is a different kind of dance. Arjuna was a warrior and he was cursed by Urvashi to live like a woman for a year. He carried out his sentence like a warrior. Even if he danced as Brihannala, it was Kathak dance, which he taught to Rajkumari Uttara. He never did obscene things like, ‘Aa baith na mere paas, tu kahaan jaa rahi hai (Come and sit next to me, where are you going)?’. Arjuna only danced. Even Lord Krishna dances, everyone enjoys it. I don’t have an issue with dancing. No one dances in The Kapil Sharma Show but their actions… Notable film stars and cricket stars come on the show and these people (the cast members) say ‘Aye, main tere paas baithna chahti hoon (I want to sit next to you).’ You laugh at these things? I have an objection to that,” he added.