Gajraj Rao and Neena Gupta are the heartbeats of Badhaai Ho, a film about a middle age couple facing unexpected pregnancy. Rao, who considers Badhaai Ho as the best film of his career, says a lot has changed in cinema as character actors are no longer treated as fillers in the story.
“Today roles are written for us and there is respect as well from everyone. Credit goes to leading man as they are not insecure about their craft and that is the reason why character actors like me are getting to do great roles,” Rao told PTI.
He says it was after a long while that he got the opportunity to showcase his acting prowess.
“I was not getting exciting work and I chose to not to pick up everything and anything. I used to earn money for my living from other things. I want to fulfil my creative emotional urge, be it through films or theatre. My home runs because of ad films that I direct.”
Rao’s production house Code Red Films has made advertisement for brands like Red Label tea, HDFC bank and Hyundai, among others.
Born to a lower middle class family, Rao feels humbled as to where he has reached as an actor.
Before making his big screen debut with a minor role in Shekhar Kapur’s Bandit Queen in 1994, Rao did odd jobs to earn a living.
“I was doing jobs for my survival. During this time, I was also doing theatre in Delhi which is where, I realised my love for acting. I did theatre in Delhi for four-five years.
“I had heard stories of struggling actors and so I was prepared for the struggle but I did not want to play a bechara actor. I had quit my job as I was not earning enough from theatre, I did script writing for TV news channels.”
Rao says he never chased anyone for work in his career and recalls being offered a small role in Black Friday by Anurag Kashyap while he was assisting Pradeep Sarkar on an ad film. “I have never ran behind anyone for roles. I have patiently waited for good work to come my way. ‘Badhaai Ho’ is the result of all my patience and hardwork.
“I was getting offers for films and TV shows but I have contained myself from not doing it just for the sake of it,” he says.
He believes the film will be a game changer in his over two decade long acting career.
“Whatever roles I have done so far are interesting but they were supporting parts or cameos. On page, maybe they did not seem memorable. For me, it is going to be like before and after ‘Badhaai Ho’.”
Rao says he has never shied away from any role as he wanted to play the characters.
“I never had any inhibition over doing roles, be it big or small or positive or negative. I only react to the character. This is a romantic film showing romance between an old couple and this has not been explored in the recent times.
“Usually, the romance between older couples is shown in a slapstick or cheap way. I had faith in the director.