Soha Ali Khan showed up with Sharman Joshi on Star Plus' Baa, Bahu Aur Baby. It made me think about all the big-screen aspirants who have made a place for themselves on television... like Iqbal Khan. He can't get over it. "Back home in Kashmir my show is more popular than KBC. When I went home recently I was treated like a rock star."

The popular character Angad in Sony's Kaisa Yeh Pyar Hai is now a double role... or so it seems.

According to inside information, it's just the protagonist Angad inventing his own double to get even with his enemies… sort of what Dev Anand did in Vijay Anand's crime caper Jewel Thief.

Laughs Angad's godmom Ekta Kapoor, "Iqbal Khan as Angad is rocking. He'll remain exclusively on Kaisa Yeh Pyar Hai. His popularity is uncontainable. He has no time to do another show."

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Fate has strange plans for the unsuspecting. Iqbal Khan started his career as the disastrous debutant in the farce Funtoosh.

"My career could've been wiped out after that. Then came another film, the thriller Bullet. We all worked very hard on the action scenes. We shot in Bulgaria… But it fell apart."

On the brink, this Kashmiri actor would have probably returned home. But then television and Ekta Kapoor happened. "I don't know what I'd have done if Kaisa Yeh Pyar Hai hadn't come along. My well-wishers told me going from cinema to television would kill my chances in the movies. But you know what? I'm glad movies didn't happen. Better the monarch on the small screen than a struggler on the large screen… I had no one to give me a decent break in movies. Thank God for Ekta Kapoor who saw me as the right person to play Angad in Kaisa Yeh Pyar Hai."

Today there's no looking back for Iqbal. "The fan mail and adulation I get is overwhelming. My fans are mostly girls. They call. I SMS them back for their kindness. God knows how they get my address. But they send me gifts at home… chocolates, candles, little gestures to show how much they love me. Recently, I had been to Maldives for a show. I couldn't step out of my hotel… I'm so grateful for all the love... I'm loving every minute of this sudden hyper-activity in my life. Actually, I was working as much as 23 hours a day. I had to be hospitalised twice for exhaustion. Now I work 13 hours. There's no time to do any other serial at all. I'll remain exclusive to Kaisa Yeh Pyar Hai… just like Cezanne Khan who does only Kasauti Zindagi Kay."

Does Iqbal face an identity crisis when people call out to him as Angad? "Not at all. There's only one Angad. And he's played by Iqbal Khan. There's no confusion about the identity."

Iqbal shyly reveals there's a lady love on the scene. "She's Sneha Chhabra… and pyar happened to me from before Kaisa Yeh Pyar Hai. She has been with me from the time I was hanging out of trains and buses, struggling to keep my body and soul together. Today, Sneha is as much a part of my success as she was a part of my struggle."

Marriage? "Not for another four years… I need to buy a house, build on my savings account. I think I need to ask Ekta for a raise," he jokes.

"Right now I just want to enjoy what God has given me."

(The views expressed here are those of the author and Indiantelevision.com need not necessarily subscribe to the same)

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