Rajkummar Rao on working with Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in Fanney Khan: She gave me space to perform
Rajkummar Rao is at a stage in his career, which could only induce envy among most actors. It is rare to see someone in Bollywood who is a perfect blend of off-the-cuff films and mainstream cinema. While his five releases last year fetched him awards, accolades and love in plenty, he will strive to repeat the feat encore with his string of releases that are all set to hit the marquee in coming months.
With Fanney Khan, and in the company of seasoned performers like Anil Kapoor and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, with whom he shares a romantic angle, Rajkummar is also entering a territory which could only be described as commercial to the core. “Working with two stalwarts was like a dream come true for me but the most important thing for me was the story and that got me excited. It talks about dreams and aspirations, and I could just connect to the character. It also has a message in the form of body shaming which is a big taboo,” informs Rao.
After having made his debut with Love Sex Aur Dhokha eight years ago, Rao has had a dream run at cinema halls. Despite the misfires, his work in most films has been lauded by critics and audiences alike. The cherry on the cake was 2014 when he was given the National Award for his performance in Shahid. The eight-year journey has only seen his career trajectory going north. One reason that could be attributed to his success is his approach towards his roles. For the actor, its immaterial if he is the lead in a film or not. “Honestly it’s the content which is the star of a film. I am not in the lead in Fanney Khan but I believed in its story. There are also films where I am playing the lead, like Stree or Made in China. Again the story mattered to me. There were so many films that were offered to me where I was supposed to play the lead but I said no to all because the plot did not excite me. There is no point doing a film where you don’t feel comfortable.”
Of late, the performances in his films has been so crisp that many have now started believing that if he is part of a film then the script for that film ought to be good. “It does not make me any confident or add any pressure to my performance. I keep reading all these amazing things and there is a lot of gratitude in me about all these. But I don’t really let these things blur my vision because I know that there is a lot I can do. There is so much of fire and hunger within me as an actor that I only want to push myself as an actor.”
The journey has also seen him make progression from a supporting actor to someone who can now pick and choose his roles. “You can always pick and choose your roles, and it’s not that you can only pick your roles only after a point. The important thing is you should know how to say no. You can’t really say yes to all films and should do only those films you strongly believe in. There is no point giving three months of your life to a film that you are not even excited about. It won’t do any good to me nor to the film.”
Ask him about the experience of being paired romantically with Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in the film and he says that the actress gave him ample space to perform. “Aishwarya has done a phenomenal job in the film. I have always liked her and there has always been a mutual admiration. With Fanney Khan, she gave me the space to perform as an actor. She never made me feel like she is Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and I am this newcomer, and when you have that level of comfort with your co-actor, it shows in your performance.”
Omerta, Rajkummar’s last film with his mentor Hansal Mehta, failed to strike a chord with the audience. “When we made Omerta, we knew that it’s a niche film and meant for a limited audience. There are some film’s that you do for life. When Shahid released, of course it did not make it to the Rs 100 crore club but till date, I get messages for my performance in Shahid. It’s not that every film of yours will be a success, you should also be proud as an actor of what you are doing.”
A look at Rao’s repertoire of films also reveals that he often experiments with his physique. While Trapped required him to look starved, Omerta and Fanney Khan demanded a fit Rajkummar. The actor believes that the exercise is mentally draining and takes a toll on the physique. “I don’t really think about it. It’s bad but I don’t really consult any dietitian or doctor before I take these extreme steps of eating or not eating. As of now, all is good.”
One final question that demands an answer from the actor relates to his fascination for action films. This gels perfectly with his Taekwondo background which, in the past, has also fetched him a gold medal at the state level. “I would love to do an action film. I think before Bareilley Ki Barfi, people did not see me as someone who could make others laugh. It’s just that one film which can change things. If a script comes along and is good enough and has action in it then why not. If it requires six pack, I will go a step ahead and try for eight packs,” signs off Rajkummar.
Updated Date: Aug 07, 2018 12:04:20 IST
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