Actor Rajkummar Rao says he is proud to be a part of “Aligarh” as he feels the movie doesn’t take the conventional route of depicting gay characters on screen.
“Aligarh”, also starring Manoj Bajpayee in the lead role, is based on the life of Aligarh Muslim University professor Shrinivas Ramchandra Siras, who was suspended because of his sexual orientation. He was later found dead in his room.
Rajkummar said it is high time the cliched representation of gay characters is done away with.
“I am uncomfortable with how gay people are shown in comedies and films… I don’t agree with it. I anyway have a problem with anything that is caricaturist or over-the-top in nature. ‘Aligarh’ is an important film because it shows these people like anyone else,” Rajkummar told PTI in an interview.
The actor said there was not an iota of apprehension in him to come on board for the Hansal Mehta-directed drama as he fell in love with the script.
“A good script is rare to come by. 80 per cent of what we get is plain boring or conventional. ‘Aligarh’ is one of the most beautifully written scripts ever. I can’t say no to a story like this nor can I do anything (bad) to my craft.
“I knew we were making something very important. This would make people talk about the issue. As an artiste there was no hesitancy on my part. We wanted to tell this story with full conviction.”
Rajkummar’s character is inspired by journalist Deepu Sebastian, who covered stories related to Siras.
The actor said though he could not meet Sebastian during the film’s shooting, he got to speak to the journalist over phone which helped him pick little nuances of the South Indian man, from his accent to his commitment to work.
“My character is based on this guy called Deepu Sebastian. I spoke to him a number of times, tried to figure out his way of working. He was very open about everything, supportive and was all for the cause and the movie.
“He shared many recorded interviews with me which helped me pick his accent. I got a commitment and energy from him that I tried putting in my character. I could not meet him at that time though.”
The actor said they finally met after the film’s screening and Rajkummar was glad that Sebastian loved the film and his performance, even though a lot in the movie was fictionalised.
“I met him after the first screening and the first thing he told me was ‘I never kissed my editor!’ I told him, ‘It is okay no one will judge you on that’.
“He is a very sweet boy, he was very happy seeing the film. He liked my performance too. He was close to professor Siras, though he never met him personally. In the film, we have fictionalised this part.”
Talking about sharing screen space with Manoj for the fist time, the young star said, “Working with him was wonderful. Acting is about reacting to the other person. Manoj sir creates such magical moments on screen that it feels amazing working alongside him.”
This is Rajkummar’s third collaboration with Hansal after “Shahid” and “CityLights” and the actor admits he takes it as a huge responsibility to deliver his best.
“We just connect. It has happened to a lot of director- actor pairs like Hrishikesh Mukherjee worked with Amitabh Bachchan and Amol Palekar a lot, Martin Scorsese worked with Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio all his life… We also found our voice together. We understand each other really well and Hansal challenges me as an actor which is very good for me.”
“Aligarh” is slated to hit theatres on February 26.