HE appeared for the first time on the screen as Bhishma in the television serial Mahabharata and ever since has created a niche for himself in the tinsel world and an everlasting place in the hearts of millions. I went to meet Mukesh Khanna to know his views about the role of cinema and television in the process of nation building. In his inimitable style, he expressed his pain and anguish about the eroding value system in the society, but, at the same time opined that if more and more efforts are put to retain and rejuvenate our ancient heritage and cultural values, we can take our nation on the path of glory with more speed and vigour.
Remembering the impact of the serial Mahabharata on the national consciousness, he told that even non-Hindus were influenced by the good-for-humanity messages emanated from the greatest of the epics. He emphasised that in order to inculcate the moral values in young generation, T.V serials and films depicting the lives of national heroes should be made. He disclosed that he was observing the children watching foreign- origin films like Superman and Batman and he wanted to make the same with an Indian super-hero who could catch the imagination of the younger lot; the production of the serial Shaktiman was the result of those thoughts. He told that so many messages like environmental protection, keeping the personal hygiene and respecting the elders, were disseminated through the Shaktiman serial.
At present, Mukesh Khanna is playing the role of Major Uncle in a specially made for children serial “Hum Honge Kamyab”. The said serial is based upon the lives of the great men and women who have served their motherland and is planned to be shown in various schools at different places. He told that he is planning to produce the animated and 3D versions of the very successful serial Shaktiman. Besides, he is envisaging to make more movies for the children and it can be very well imagined that when released, the said movies will help create better citizens.
Mukesh Khanna was perturbed about the quality of the sop- operas being telecast nowadays; he maintained that most of them are highly negative in content and are offering poor quality of entertainment. He said even the print and the visual media is full of negative news, though, he praised the role of media in uncovering the various scandals which have engulfed the country. He stressed that so many positive developments are also taking place in the society; the same should be highlighted by the media and the endeavour would certainly motivate other people to contribute their might in the noble cause of nation-building.
He contended that parents are not spending adequate amount of time with their children and consequently the latter are getting deprived of the valuable parental guidance. According to him even changes are required in the education system where more and more emphasis should be laid on reinforcing the Guru-Shishya tradition.
Mukesh’s family – in the aftermath of the partition—had migrated to Mumbai from Multan (now in Pakistan). When told about their ancestral temple in Dipalpur tehsil in Okara district of Pakistan and the highly neglected state of the same, he said, it is meaningless to expect from the Government of India to take initiative and talk to the Pakistani government for the upkeep of the Hindu temples in that country. He maintained that the people themselves should take the cudgels upon their shoulders and take steps for the maintenance of the places of heritage which have been left behind in Pakistan.