Khana Khazana is an iconic first food show on Indian television, which catapulted Chef Sanjeev Kapoor to nationwide fame. Very few know that the show was about to be shut down initially, with Hansal Mehta struggling and pleading with the channel to keep it afloat. 

In Mid-day`s podcast series, The Bombay Film Story, Hansal revealed that Sanjeev Kapoor was initially rejected by the channel. It was his unique recipe, Sham Savera, that became popular overnight and saved the show. 

Recalling those days, Hansal shared, “I used to be an editor. I used to do Khana Khazana and I used to be a freelance editor. And editing is something I taught myself, because Khana Khazana would have been impossible to pull off if I could not edit. The budget was Rs 32000, there was no money to pay anyone.”

Sanjeev Kapoor was rejected by the channel

Hansal Mehta is responsible for bringing Sanjeev Kapoor to the drawing rooms and then making him popular among housewives. However, initially, Sanjeev was rejected by the channel. “Zee TV did not want him. They said, kisko le liya. It was a risk I took. I don`t know if you remember an actress called Radha Seth. She was anchoring the show. Hmm. And I was supposed to have different chefs but she walked out after the first episode, or something.”

“So, then I took Sanjeev. I shot with him and I just sent the episodes to Zee. The content head almost murdered me. He said, `Who is this?` I said, he`s a chef. He said, `We don`t want him.` So the show was a struggle. I pleaded with him, saying that I have invested money in this, I will lose it all. A friend`s father had loaned us the money,” he continued.

Sanjeev Kapoor became the nation`s brother

“The show was shutting down, it was the 13th episode. I had called another chef for the episode and he didn`t turn up. So I called Sanjeev, `Please save me, do this one episode, the show is shutting.` Sanjeev came on his bike. He asked, what do you have? I said, spinach, paneer, tomato, ginger, garlic, this and that. So he made a dish out of palak paneer and makhani gravy… palak with paneer inside, made dumplings, fried them, put them in a makhani gravy, put some cream on top and called it Sham Savera. 

“That episode went out, and ZEE TV called me. At that time there were no mobile phones, there was a response department. They called me and said, aake dekho aap, response aaya hai. There was a cement bag full of letters addressed to Sanjeev Kapoor for Shaam Savera. And most of them had rakhis. Sanjeev became the nation`s brother,” Hansal shared.