Rao, who explored OTT and theatrical releases in 2022, addresses the growing divide between two media; asserts movies must be judged only by stories
For Rajkummar Rao, the first month of 2023 has been a mix of something old and something new. While he has shot for his maiden music video Achha sila diya, the actor is gearing up to return to the all-familiar world of Stree 2. Mounting the sequel to a successful film like Stree (2018) is not easy. Rao is aware of the fact, as he says, “We are in the writing process, and will take the film on floors soon. The team is being careful with the writing, considering it is a huge responsibility.”
Rao’s run at the movies in 2022 mirrored that of Bollywood, which witnessed only a handful of big-screen hits. The actor’s two theatrical offerings — Badhaai Do, and HIT: The First Case — failed to set the cash registers ringing, whereas his OTT offering Monica O My Darling received a thunderous response. As the divide between the big-screen euphoria and the intimate experience of the digital platforms grows wider, Rao emphasises that the story matters, not the medium. “I don’t choose movies on the basis of medium. Nor do [I determine] which film I should do for the big screen, and which for OTT. We should stop categorising films like that. For me, the fun lies in the process of making a movie. I am sure if we made Newton  today, so many people would say it is an OTT film. But it did so well at the theatres.”
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The year has left him with some important lessons. He believes that Badhaai Do would have benefited from a different release date. “Badhaai Do might not have been a big success, but it wasn’t a big failure either. I am sure that if it was released slightly later, it would have done way better.” That said, the actor is “grateful for the year gone by”. It has only strengthened his belief that a film must be the right blend of content and commerce. “I’m only doing stories that I believe in. I am pushing myself as an actor. As long as the economics of your film is right, there is nothing to worry about. All we know is to make a film with utmost sincerity and within the right budget. If it’s a good story, it will find its place.”