If there is one actor who can be credited for changing the landscape of Bollywood in the last few years with his performance-oriented roles, it is Rajkummar Rao. He mostly picks characters which are realistic, slice-of-life and vulnerable. While films like Trapped, Shahid, Aligarh, Newton, Omerta, CityLights and Judgementall Hai Kya allowed him to exercise his acting chops, his Bareilly Ki Barfi and Stree emerged as commercial hits.
His upcoming projects include Ludo, Roohi Afzana, Chhalaang and Badhaai Do. But before we get to see more of Rao in the coming months, the actor shared with us the story behind landing his first film project – director Dibakar Banerjee’s Love Sex Aur Dhokha (2010).
Here’s what Rajkummar Rao shared:
1. How did your first film, Love Sex Aur Dhokha come to you?
I came to Mumbai in 2008. And I started auditioning for whatever I could do. I didn’t want to do TV because I always wanted to be a film actor. So I auditioned for this ad and there were some 40-50 people with me in that ad. It was some kind of a montage. And I just had to give one reaction shot. But my first film was Love Sex Aur Dhokha. I read an article in the newspaper that Dibakar Banerjee is planning a film and he wants to cast newcomers. That’s how I reached out to the casting director and kept following up till he called me for the audition. And some three rounds of tests happened and I got that first phone call that we all wait for. And then we had a workshop for around a month, and by the time we started shooting, I think we all were really prepared with our characters.
2. What do you remember of your first day on set?
My first shot actually was the first shot of my story in the film where I am putting that CCTV in the store and then I say ‘aagaya?’. That’s the very typical thing in Delhi we all say with the antenna thing. Earlier it used to be ‘aaya? nahi? ghuma… aaya, nahi? aaya aaya…’ (laughs). So that was the first scene which I did.
3. Were you nervous? How many retakes did you take?
I was a little nervous. But as I said, because of the workshops, we were pretty clear what we were supposed to do. So I was happy also. Honestly, I don’t judge actors on the number of retakes, that if you give less retakes, you are a good actor. I don’t see it like that. But I was the one who was asking for retakes. I thought I could do better. Give me one more, I can do better. Dibakar was like ‘Raj, we’ve got the shot’, but I said ‘No sir, one more! I can do better sir’
4. Who were your co-stars? How was the rapport with them when you got to meet or work with them again later?
Oh great! Nushrat (Bharucha) is my co-actor again in Chhalaang. As I said, all of us were doing a workshop together for almost a month so we became like this really good bunch of friends. And we were very happy as for most of us, it was our first film.
Also Read | First of Many: Gajraj Rao | Vivek Oberoi | Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub | Rajpal Yadav | Rajeev Khandelwal | Govind Namdev | Neena Gupta | Pankaj Tripathi | Satish Kaushik | Mohit Raina | Shahid Kapoor | Anang Desai | Jimmy Sheirgill | Tabu | Harsh Chhaya | Gaurav Gera | Saurabh Shukla | Deepak Dobriyal | Seema Pahwa | Annup Sonii | Sayantani Ghosh | Annu Kapoor | Ajay Devgn | Vishal Malhotra | Rahul Khanna | Ashutosh Rana | Jaaved Jaaferi | Ashwath Bhatt | Varun Badola | Renuka Shahane | Taapsee Pannu | Manoj Bajpayee | Milind Soman
5. If given a chance to go back to your debut role, what’s that one thing you’d like to change or do better?
So now when I look back at my performances, I feel that maybe I can do them differently. I can bring in something new to these characters.
6. One film or role that inspired you to become an actor?
DDLJ, Shool, Ghulam and more.
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