Rajkummar Rao: I am yet to find my comfort zone
Rajkummar Rao, who has over seven films in the pipeline, says he is open to all kinds of roles and won't settle for any one genre
Rajkummar Rao has no time to breathe. He had Hansal Mehta's Omerta release in May this year and recently, Atul Manjrekar's Fanney Khan. Later this month, he has Amar Kaushik's Stree, followed by two international productions, Namrata Singh Gujral's 5 Weddings and Tabrez Noorani's Love Sonia. And if that is not enough, Rao also has Mental Hai Kya with Kangana Ranaut and Ek Ladki Ko Dekha To Aisa Laga with Sonam Kapoor.
If you wonder why we are rattling off his filmography, there is a reason. Rao has back-to-back releases. He just wrapped up the promotions of Fanney Khan and is already into his next, Stree, which has Shraddha Kapoor as co-actor. There's more — he begins shooting for Made In China next month with Mouni Roy as co-star.
We are at a suburban hotel with Rao where he shakes a leg with Fanney Khan co-star Anil Kapoor. Mr Jhakaas' enthusiasm can be infectious. AK does not leave any opportunity to say, 'My name is Lakhan'. as the shutterbugs go clicking.
Rajkummar Rao and Patralekhaa
So how is Rao balancing his busy date diary? "It's simple," he says, "I am doing what I love. I always wanted to be an actor." There are no complaints or exhaustion tales. "I enjoy the promotions. It's actually quite fun interacting with so many people. It's part of an actor's job," he says. Considered one of the finest actors of the generation, Rao is nonchalant about his success. "Things are just happening. I am playing my part and doing what I love to do. The release of films is not in my hands; it's the producers who decide. Last year, I had five releases. I just shot for Stree and it's ready to release."
Rao has been able to balance both real and commercial cinema. He is as comfortable being part of Shahid (2013) as Bareilly Ki Barfi (2017). "The lines are blurring," he says. "It is about choosing the stories I want to be part of. It is not that I am comfortable with a particular genre of films. I still have to find my comfort zone. What matters to me is that both kind of films do well. I want to do all kinds of roles. Whether it is Trapped or a Fanney Khan. I am open to all."
He also desires to work with different actors in multi-hero projects. "I am not the casting director," he says, "to pick and choose who I want to work with. That is the director and producers' call." He has shared screen space with Anil Kapoor, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan as well as with Sonam Kapoor, Shraddha Kapoor, Kangana Ranaut and Kriti Sanon. "There are so many actors I would like to work with... Amitji [Amitabh Bachchan], Ranveer [Singh], Ranbir [Kapoor]. It is a long list. At the same time, I have no qualms working with new faces."
Nor does he consider himself one-up as he is a trained actor, unlike most of the current lot. "That is such a narcissistic thing to say. But yes, I owe everything to FTII, Pune. I am what I am because of what I was taught there. It is the finest acting school in the country. It gave me a window to world cinema."
As part of the course, he was taught the basics of writing, editing, camera work, direction, but he prefers being an actor. "I never had a Plan B. Writing requires a lot of patience; it is a lengthy process. For now, let me enjoy doing what I like doing. It was only pure love for it. I didn't get into films to make money."
'Patralekhaa is a fine actor'
Rajkummar Rao has always been open about his relationship with Patralekhaa. Marriage is not on the cards anytime soon. The two teamed up in Hansal Mehta's CityLights (2014). She was later seen in Love Games (2016) and Nanu Ki Jaanu, besides the web series Bose: Dead/Alive this year. Rao says, "Patralekhaa is a fine actor. She's doing good work. We will be teaming up again in Hansal Mehta's Swagat Hai." Rao says he does not recommend her to filmmakers and casting agents. "She is capable of doing things herself. She will prove herself."
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