Interview By: ANKITA R. KANABAR

His film is India’s official entry to the Oscars this year, and well, he’s a national award winner. Not to mention, Rajkummar Rao has continued to bag appreciation even from the audience back-to-back for his films. And probably it’s his dedication and passion towards the craft which deserves credit. Well, he has a fractured leg when we catch up with him and he’s busy working! He is back with a new film, this time a love story with a twist – ‘Shadi Mein Zaroor Aana’. He talks about this latest release and more in this quick chat.

We spoke last before ‘Newton’ and that time obviously, we weren’t aware that the film will be India’s official entry to the Oscars. What was the feeling like?
I’m very happy. It’s a film made with a lot of sincerity and I’m very happy that people saw that sincerity and chose it to be India’s official entry to the Oscars. Also, the kind of box-office success it had was great. I get a lot of hope in our cinema when I see films like ‘Newton’ doing so well.

Let’s talk about ‘Shadi Mein Zaroor Aana’ – when it comes to a space like this – being in an emotional, natural space – how does that come to you?
Nothing comes easy but as actors, we have to make everything look effortless, but a lot of effort goes behind that. Although, romance comes very naturally to me, contrary to the perception about me. I’m very romantic in real life. But the second half was very intense. When you love someone so much, and someone breaks your heart, you feel strongly about it. Then even the anger or hatred will be as strong as the way you love. For me, that was the exciting part. Internally, still of course, you connect to them, but you can’t forget what your partner has done to you. The second half was a lot of fun!

One sees a curve in the character from the first half to the second. So, how was it when you get the opportunity to show various layers within one film?
That’s what I look for, in every character. I enjoy shades in my character, otherwise it gets monotonous. When I read the script of ‘Shadi Mein Zaroor Ana’, I realised that there’s so much graph which these two characters have. They are two different people when they meet after five years, in the second half. So, I thought it would be nice to show two different traits of a character. Just like ‘Bareilly Ki Barfi’, that there is this one simple weak guy and then he is this flamboyant, loud guy. So, it was nice to play that.

How did the accent come by?
We had to obviously work on it. Our writer is from the same area, so he had already written the dialogues well. You have to work on it, but this is my third film based in UP. ‘Behen Hogi Teri’, ‘Bareilly Ki Barfi’ and now this, so I had the understanding on the language but all of us had to be on the same page when it came to the language.  Every character has a different demand. If you are doing a film set in UP, you cannot talk like a Delhi boy. You have to learn the accent.

Most people talk about your dedication and passion towards cinema and you’ve continued that with anything that you do…
That’s because I have a lot of hunger in me and I feel I have a long way to go as an actor. There’s so much fire I have that I’d never think that I’ve worked enough. I don’t think I have done enough. I’ve just started and still have a long way to go. For me, my work is not a sprint, it’s a marathon, and I’m going to keep running. I don’t think about anything else, the appreciation, the perception, the image. I just think about the film I’m doing at that point of time. That’s what I love, that’s why I am here. So as long as I’m doing the kind of films I want to do. I’m very happy with my life.

“I watch a lot of great cinema and some wonderful performances happening worldwide. That’s when I realise that I’m a very small actor in front of these people”

Do you also analyse your work?
That happens with every work you do. The first time you see something you analyse what could have been better and you go back thinking what could be wrong. The first instinct is always to criticise yourself. Also, I watch a lot of great cinema and some wonderful performances happening worldwide. That’s when I realise that I’m a very small actor in front of these people. I have to reach there. I have to grow with every film. I am not even ten percent of actors like Robert De Niro or Daniel Day Lewis.

So is your acting also influenced from the west?
A lot of actors have inspired me with their amazing work and performances but I won’t say I’m influenced. I’m inspired with their commitment and passion towards their work. It’s something which even I want towards my work, wherein, when you do a film, you think about nothing else, but just try and live that character completely. That’s something I’d love to do.

Now do you completely feel soaked into films, or are you still a bit detached?
I do detach myself a lot. Whenever I get time, I travel. I love talking about cinema otherwise also, but there are times when you feel you want to be with yourself. Like I was in Chicago some time back. I was there for a festival but I was still there, all by myself. Walking on the streets, eating the food. When I am on set, I try and be my character but once I’m at home, I’m not an actor. I don’t know how actor Rajkummar is.

And how is the person Rajkummar?
I don’t know that. I think I have forgotten who the real Rajkummar is. But I think I’m very honest. I don’t like faking things. I like being with myself, I like watching Netflix or Amazon, just chill and be alone.

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