Be it his ‘serious’ parts in films such as Shahid, Newton and Omerta; or ‘lighter’ outings in hits like Kai Po Che, Bareilly Ki Barfi (BKB; 2017) and Stree, he has successfully straddled between all kinds of roles through his decade-long Bollywood journey. But Rajkummar Rao readily admits that he was considered a ‘serious’ actor till BKB came along.
“People love to put actors in boxes, and are like, ‘if he/she has done a particular kind of work, then let’s give him more such parts.’ Till BKB released, people would see me as a ‘serious, dramatic actor’. But I, as an artist, never thought, ‘oh, I am going to do something very different.’ I knew that it was a great role for any actor – to portray a dual personality in a beautifully-written script,” says Rao, whose character, Pritam Vidrohi and his humourous undertones, became a talking point of the film.
The Aligarh actor, on his part, says it “never occurred” to him that he was “dabbling in comedy space” with the Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari’s directorial. “But the end result was amazing. The kind of response I got from people was overwhelming, and I really enjoyed that space. Films such as Newton, Trapped and Shahid take a toll on you, as a person as well as an artist, but when you have a fun part in a film like BKB, you enjoy those great moments,” says Rao, who started his film career with Love Sex Aur Dhokha, in 2010.
Like trade pundits, Rao also feels that BKB gave a completely new twist to his career path. “To be honest, I feel, in a way, some kind of a shift happened in my career with BKB. And, what’s interesting is that I really enjoyed that space (fun) as well. Then, of course, Stree (2018) came along and lot of things changed. As for me, I’ve constantly learnt and grown. As an actor, that’s exactly what you want to do — play completely diverse parts in all your movies,” he says.
At the same time, the Gurugram boy — loved for his ‘serious, dramatic parts’ in films such as CityLights and Trapped maintaind that a “lot of mental and physical” goes into such roles. “For instance, if you are doing a biopic, then you meet the person and try to understand his mental psyche. I guess, more than physical, it’s a lot about going on that internal journey,” says Rao, adding that the “idea is to stay as true to your part as possible.”
But he admits that, at times, that’s not easy. “On the contrary, sometimes, that can be very tiresome. Fun, comedy-laden parts, on the other hand, are all about having fun with the lines on the sets. You have to let it flow, and enjoy,” says Rao, who will next be seen in films such as Chhalaang and Ludo, both of which will release on OTT platforms.