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Perhaps, it is this passion for filmmaking and a quest for perfection that has fuelled Rakesh's 25-year-long career as a director, and helped him succeed on several occasions. "I stand by my vision, no matter how bleak it might sound to other people. On most occasions, I have been proven right. And even when things haven't gone as planned, at least I have had the satisfaction of attempting something different, for instance Kites," he says
Rakesh's tryst with films began when he was all of 16. After his dad, music composer Roshan, passed away, he had two options — to either join the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune, or work as an assistant director. Rakesh chose the latter, as this would allow him to continue staying with his mother and younger brother Rajesh (a popular music composer now).
As an assistant director for four years, he learnt the nuances of the trade. Rakesh was preparing for a plunge into the technical aspects of filmmaking when he got his first break as an actor in the Balraj Sahani-Nirupa Roy starrer Ghar Ghar Ki Kahaani (1970). "But my acting career saw more downs than ups. I tried time and again but things didn't fall into place," he recalls.
So, it was important for him to consider alternatives and he chose to turn producer in 1980, with the Rishi Kapoor and Tina Munim-starrer Aap Ke Deewane. He also played a parallel lead in the movie. His production house, Filmkraft, backed Kaamchor in 1982, with him in the lead. The film turned out to be one of the biggest hits that year. "I thought the success would take my acting career forward. Instead, it boosted leading lady Jaya Prada's career and left me to fend for myself," he says with a laugh.
As a producer, Rakesh took keen interest in editing and direction. He would often spend hours with the technical crew. At this time, acting offers had started drying up. "I thought it was apt to turn director. Khudgarz marked my debut," he says. The film did average business at the box office but made his peers take him seriously. He also understood that in order to stay in the business, it was crucial that every movie be different from the other. That is when he thought of a woman-oriented subject in Khoon Bhari Maang (KBM). "I was told this film will not work but I was confident," he says. Even today, KBM is a cult classic for the drama it offers. Ever since, Rakesh has witnessed tremendous success with films such as Khel, Kishen Kanhaiya, Karan Arjun and Koyla.
Rakesh's biggest success — for reasons both emotional and financial — is Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai (KNPH), which made his son, Hrithik, an overnight star. Coincidentally, Aradhana (1969), which inspired KNPH, turned its lead actor Rajesh Khanna into a superstar.
Having proven himself with Bollywood formulae films, Rakesh decided to take the less-travelled route and made a science-fiction film Koi Mil Gaya. The success, in turn, laid the base for a superhero film, Krissh. "While making Krissh, I wanted to turn it into a franchise, which I am doing now with Krissh 3," explains the 63-year-old.
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