After collaborating on projects like Shahid, Citylights, Aligarh, Omerta and Bose: Dead/Alive, the critically acclaimed director-actor duo of Hansal Mehta and Rajkummar Rao is back with a sports drama titled Chhalaang. In a conversation with indianexpress.com, Rajkummar Rao spoke about the USP of Chhalaang, his bond with Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub and playing another small-town character.
Here are excerpts from the conversation:
You play a PT teacher and getting into the right kind of body language surely needed a lot of observation. How did you work on your character?
I was very active in sports and physical training in my school. I continued sports for a while even during my college life. So, I have seen PT teachers very closely as I have spent time with them. I had some references in my mind but a lot of it was there in the script itself. So, I did not have to do much but to follow the material I had. I just tried to be honest to what was in the script and added my observations to it.
Chhalaang is that rare film where you and Hansal sir seemed to have had fun because you both usually collaborate on serious films.
The kind of films we did earlier were mentally taxing for both of us. Chhalaang was more about understanding the character and situation, and having fun with those lines and scenes. Unlike the popular belief, Hansal sir is a funny guy. He likes to have fun on the sets. So, it is always fun to collaborate with him.
Tell us more about your collaboration with Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub.
Zeeshan is a fine actor. I am a fan of Zeeshan. I love being with him on-screen and off-screen. I couldn’t have asked for a better co-star. We were blessed to have him on board. Also, in Chhalaang, he is not playing the typical antagonist. He plays a character who has his own ideologies. He stands for something he feels right. Zeeshan brought humanity to the character. It was so much fun to work with him. And he is such a funny guy. I love hanging out with him.
Montu is yet another small-town character. How is he different from what you played before?
He is very different than what I have played in Bareilly Ki Barfi, Made In China or Stree. These are different characters with no possibilities of similarities between them. There are so many different characters in small towns. There are so many stories coming from the heartlands. So, one cannot really say that a character should sound or look the same because they come from a small town.
Needless to say, you and Hansal Mehta make for a hit duo but what is the USP of Chhalaang?
I think people will get entertained, get inspired and relate to the characters we have played in the film.
Because you two are a hit duo, is there any pressure in terms of expectations?
I don’t take pressure because that way I would not be able to work. You cannot be in the moment, be honest to the part you are playing if you have a hundred things in your head to think about. I try and put everything in my characters. I try to be as honest as I can. Having said that, I believe my best is yet to come.
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