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Rajesh Krishnan is like a mix of Woody Allen and Guy Ritchie: Lootcase actor Gajraj Rao

Gajraj Rao on sharing screen space with Vijay Raaz and Ranvir Shorey in Lootcase, the delay in its release and why a digital premiere was a viable option.

Written by Mimansa Shekhar | New Delhi | Published: July 28, 2020 12:45:31 pm
gajraj rao lootcase character Gajraj Rao plays the character of MLA Patil in Lootcase.

Actor Gajraj Rao believes every film has a journey and was sure even his upcoming Lootcase will find its way to the audience. The comedy film which got delayed due to a clash with big releases and the coronavirus-induced lockdown, is now set to premiere on Disney Plus Hotstar on July 31.

Lootcase revolves around a red suitcase full of money which is being chased by a middle-class man, a politician, a don and a cop. The Rajesh Krishnan directorial also stars Kunal Kemmu, Vijay Raaz, Ranvir Shorey and Rasika Dugal.

In an exclusive chat with indianexpress.com, Gajraj Rao opened up about Lootcase, sharing screen space with Vijay Raaz and Ranvir Shorey, and the insider-outsider debate.

Here are excerpts from the conversation:

Q. The focal point of Lootcase is a suitcase full of money. I hope the actors weren’t tempted!

(Laughs) The chase and dark comedy has been crafted very well in Lootcase. Though the characters are going through hell in the film, the audience will have a laugh riot seeing that.

Q. How was it working with such a talented cast and crew?

I have shared screen space with Vijay Raaz and Ranvir Shorey. I knew them from before, but this was the first time I got to work with them. Both of them are highly talented and have a great onscreen aura. I was slightly tensed not to get carried away by them while performing and end up spoiling my own game.

Not just the cast, it even has a very talented crew. Director Rajesh Krishnan is one of the biggest ad-film makers of India and excels at quirky, situational humour. He is like a mix of Woody Allen and Guy Ritchie. The film’s writer Kapil Sawant has brilliant dry humour too.

Q. How did you get cast in Lootcase?

Director Rajesh Krishnan and the team had told me about the script in 2016, and I was the first one to get cast. They were so sure about my part that I did not have the option to refuse. Also since this project came before Badhaai Ho, the studio offered them several other attractive names, but Krishnan and Sawant stuck to my name.

Q. You play Minister Patil in Lootcase. How is he different from other politicians we’ve seen?

Luckily I got to see the rough edit of the film. Sometimes you aren’t sure about a film, but I am for this one. Patil isn’t a cliched character who’s either black or white. His personality and aggression unfolds slowly.

Q, When you put so much into a film, and then it gets delayed several times, what is your state of mind then?

Small films, with lesser-known director or less commercially viable cast, sometimes get pushed by the system. I believe the first time it was scheduled to release last year, that was around some big films and the producers must’ve thought it has less viability then. But when the team did an internal research in small cities, they realised the film had the same caliber as Badhaai Ho. Then it was decided that the film will release in April. We were sure that even if small, our film will have a deep impact. But then it got stuck due to the lockdown. A film should not remain on the shelf for long. So I guess the makers took a call. Though I’ve not spoken to anyone on this, but I’m assuming that this is the reason they chose to release it on Disney Plus Hotstar.

Q. But do you think OTT is now providing a good platform to small films which are high on content but aren’t able to get a theatrical release?

It’s a blessing for small films with great content. And this is happening across the globe. I loved Chintu Ka Birthday and Chaman Bahaar. Of course, bigger event films like Baahubali or the Marvel movies need to go to theaters only. But small films require more hard work to reach the audience. We are trying to promote Lootcase on our individual social media handles as much as possible to ensure a buzz. But good films are like red wine. If they have good content, they stay in the mind and people will keep going back to the OTT platform.

Q. While announcing its line-up of film releases, Disney Plus Hotstar did not call Kunal Kemmu and Vidyut Jammwal for Lootcase and Khuda Hafiz, respectively, during its virtual press conference. What’s you take?

That pain no one can explain. It’s unfortunate that this happened. Maybe there were reasons like time constraint and the announcement happened in a hurry. So I am only giving them the benefit of the doubt. But everyone is educated and civilised here. Whatever happened, the final jury is the audience.

Q. You have been a part of the industry for 25 years, but got acknowledged only recently. Did the insider-outsider thing hinder your work too?

The irony is every insider today was once an outsider, and every outsider today will become an insider tomorrow. It is nature’s rule that every parent will help their child. MS Dhoni, Amitabh Bachchan, Manoj Bajpayee are all examples. Bajpayee might want to promote someone from his family tomorrow. Yes, there might be undue preference in the beginning in some cases, but ultimately the deciding factor is talent. If you talk about me, I was on the field for so many years, just that with Badhaai Ho, I got a chance to hit a goal. I never really faced this insider-outsider thing and was just lucky to get support from every production house.

Q. Are you more cautious in picking the right scripts now?

Nothing is in your hands. If you had the option of choosing every film that was perfect, we would have very few flops. I try to understand the script. But more than that my concern is about the journey and the people I’ll be undertaking it with. I definitely try not to repeat characters, but if I say I won’t play the role of a father, that’s not possible. So I try to put different shades to it rather than making him a stereotypical father. My association with TVF really helped me in understanding the generation of today, by observing them on-camera and off-camera. I realised that today, youngsters don’t want a strict father.

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