Home Interview Rajiv, the last Khilnani who left Sindh

Rajiv, the last Khilnani who left Sindh

Rajiv, the last Khilnani who left Sindh

“Our family house was in possession of the government for a long time and acted as Radio Pakistan building. We got it back from the government in late sixties, sold it  and moved to Clifton area in early eighties” – Rajiv Khilnani

By Nasir Aijaz

As a result of my ongoing quest for locating the members of Khilnani families who migrated to India and other countries from Bhiria, a tiny town and the Karachi city of Sindh in 1947 as a result of partition of Indian subcontinent, very recently I found two names – Rajiv Khilnani and Vinita Khilnani. Both are settled in the USA and are known figures of the world of art. Rajiv is a painter and actor while Vinita is an actor, comedian and singer. It’s perhaps a coincidence that two Khilnanis chose the fields which do not relate to their education. Rajiv is an MBA while Vinita has double masters – MS in biology and master’s in public health.

After I published their profiles based on the information gathered from different websites on their professional life, I somehow succeeded to establish personal contact with them for knowing their family background.

It took a few days to make him pass on some information as Rajiv responded to my queries in bits because of his busy life. Every day I used to send him a question or two, and he would answer, recalling his family life in Sindh. It emerged from the conversation that Rajiv belonged to a family that was settled in Karachi. The hometown of Khilnanis was originally the Bhiria, a small town of Naushehro Feroze district (formerly Nawabshah) but a few families had shifted to Karachi where they had well-established businesses. They were well-settled and had played a significant role in the development of Karachi. Rajiv was from one of those families.

Rajiv Khilnani - Sindh Courier-1
Photo Courtesy: Rajiv Khilnani/Instagram

The following is the conversation with Rajiv.

Rajiv please would you share some details of your parents/ancestors. Where did they live in India after partition, as I am currently writing a series of articles on the Khilnani family that had a great role in promotion of education as well as in philanthropic work in Sindh? Rai Bahadur Dewan Kauromal Chandanmal Khilnani was a renowned educationist and social reformer who authored more than fifty books.

As far as I know and remember, my family never left Pakistan at the time of partition. My dad was born in Karachi and his father died when he was about 5 years old so his mother decided to stay back in Karachi. I was born in Karachi as well. All I know is I belong to the Rewachand Fathechand side of Khilnani family.

But would you please share more details about your family – your father’s name, other family members, any family member still living in Karachi, your life in Karachi, education, other memoirs, when did you leave Karachi etc. etc.

My dad passed away 10 years ago. His name is Jashan Khilnani. His brothers Parmanand, Khemchand, Chutru, Gopal, and Dharam Khilnani (all deceased). Sisters Bhagwati & Sarojni Seth. My dad had a stepbrother Harriman Khilnani whose family moved to Bombay during partition. My grandmother’s name is Kartar Devi. Prof. Sunil, a renowned author of several books, is my first cousin, from Khemchand Khilnani. He is my dad’s elder brother’s son. He is currently settled in India.

Khemchand Khilnani had moved to India during partition. Bhagwati and Sarojni moved to India after marriage. Chutru moved to London, I believe in the sixties.

We used to have a big family house on Garden Road (Off Bandar road) across from Naz and Nishat cinema. I believe we even owned one of the cinema.

Our family house was in possession of the government for a long time and acted as Radio Pakistan building. We got it back from the government in late sixties and sold it in early eighties and moved to Clifton area in early eighties.

While the house was still in government’s possession, our family lived near the Bhutto family residence in the Old Clifton area (I wasn’t born then)

Most of my family members went to Karachi grammar school for education. I did not go there. I went to Saint Michael’s Convent in Karachi for my High school. I did my MBA from an American University that had a Campus in Sea View at one point. Southeastern University Washington D.C.

Rajiv Khilnani - Sindh Courier-2Do you or other relatives speak Sindhi?

I don’t speak Sindhi but can understand it. Some of my cousins speak Sindhi.

Do you have contacts with other Khilnanis in India or in other countries?

I am in touch with some of my relatives in India. Lives have gotten so busy, hard to keep in touch.

I am also in touch with cousins in USA. But our family is really spread out between West and East coasts.

Do you know Vinita Khilnan, also an artist in USA?

I have met Vinita and even acted with her in a small project. We have been trying to figure out if we are related. She asked her father and he wasn’t sure either. I have never met her father but if I recall correctly he is a doctor in the Los Angeles area.

Do you feel proud of being a Sindhi, a Khilnani having roots in Sindh?

I am very proud of my roots.

Rajiv Khilnani apologized for having insufficient information about the Khilnani family members saying, “It’s just that our family is so big, spread out and have such a generational gap that I don’t have answers to give. More importantly accurate answers to share.”

Rajiv-Grandfather-Sindh CourierOn my request for sharing some old photos of his family and home in Karachi, Rajiv said, “I am trying my best to track down some old photos for you with little success. I live in Los Angeles and my family who might have some old photos live in a whole different town.”

“I will try my level best to send you a photo or two, but can’t promise.”

And after a few days Rajiv shared a photo of his grandfather.

Also read: Meet Rajiv Khilnani, a Visual Artist & Actor 


Nasir Aijaz, Chief Editor, Sindh Courier, is a Karachi-based senior journalist. He is author of nine books on literature, history, language and some other research works.   



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