Actor Rahul Khanna.
Actor Rahul Khanna.

Maintaining work-life balance, the Rahul Khanna way

Exercise, travel and dogs are actor Rahul Khanna's favourite ways of switching off

The other day, someone told me that they felt I hated working. I couldn’t help but laugh because it couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, I love nothing more than working. But I like doing things in a certain considered, methodical way and at a pace that suits me because at the end of the day, I want to really enjoy what I do for a living. That said, I also want to do certain things purely for joy!

One of my favourite books, The Art Of Stillness by Pico Iyer, explores this idea of finding richness in stillness and retreat. I think modern society tries to make you feel like you’re being unproductive, lazy and inferior unless you’re constantly “stressed" and “overextended" with things “to do". There’s far too much glorification of busy. In my opinion, it’s all about achieving a balance.

But what is the correct balance? I think the answer is different for everyone and something only you can figure out for yourself.

In my father’s day, being an actor meant just doing films. But today, there are many different new avenues available. I’ve done film, TV, theatre, events, appearances, and now even social media assignments. I love the variety and I feel each one enhances and informs the others in some way. At the end of the day, I get to be creative—so it’s almost irrelevant in which medium it is.

Since I divide my time between India and the US, I feel like I get to meet and interact with a wide variety of very different people and I think that really has broadened my outlook and perspective.

When I meet new people (especially outside India) and they learn I’m an actor in the Indian film industry, they always go, “Oh, so you must do five to 10 films a year." It’s often tedious trying to explain the esoteric space I occupy in such a prolific industry. I had been hearing the term “boutique" used to describe everything from hotels to investment companies that were more niche and realized it was also quite apt for me. I decided to try using it in my social media bio and found it always got my point across plus got a good laugh.

So many of my friends are artists—photographers, directors, designers—and while they are all driven and passionate about their careers, they have shown me that it’s equally important to disconnect and have experiences outside your work, to travel and just “be" to reflect and come back recharged with new ideas and perspectives.

My favourite ways of switching off are:

Exercise: I do crossfit, yoga, swimming, hiking, water skiing… anything that gets me moving—and if it’s outdoors, even better.

Dogs: the ultimate stress busters. My lifestyle doesn’t allow me the luxury of owning one myself but I make sure I have access to dogs belonging to friends and family, wherever I am in the world. It’s like my canine Uber—dog sharing. Their owners are always thrilled to let me take them for hikes or runs or even just have them around at home for the day.

Travelling: I’m a bit of a nomad at heart and I need a change of scene, often. I have a few retreats I frequent. My favourite is a friend’s ancestral property on the beach in Goa where I go to watch turtles hatch every year.

In Work Wise, actor Rahul Khanna talks about how to best lead life at work and outside it.

As told to Sandipan Dalal.