You step out of the theatre wondering, “How does this man fit all his characters like a glove? How is he so perfect in EVERY film?”
From idolizing Shah Rukh Khan to surviving just on Rs 10,000 a month, Rajkummar Rao has gotten here just because of his persistence and hard work.
He has always been fascinated by Shah Rukh ‘sir’ since he was the ultimate outsider who made it to the top. But, it’s not that easy to ‘make it’, just showing up in Mumbai isn’t enough. He started by doing some forgettable ads and was struggling in every sense of the word.
“I made about Rs 10,000 a month––but still, there were days when I didn’t have money, and I’d call my friends asking to share their meal.”
But, giving up was never an option for him, even if it meant hunting for auditions and only getting to try out for the smaller roles.
“I didn’t let any of it demotivate me – I believed that someone would see my talent.”
In a career span of nine years, Rajkummar Rao has created a niche for himself that is not restricted by any stereotypes. Every character played by this ‘Stree’ actor stays as a character and is not overpowered by his personality, which is a rare feat.
The most important call of his life came when he got the news that he got the movie ‘Love, Sex Aur Dhoka’.
“The words were, ‘Ho gaya hai. You got the film.’ I fell to my knees, called my mother. The movie released, and I got a lot of love… that’s when the doors opened. But I’ll tell you a stand-out moment for me – I think it was after the release of Queen.”
Another memorable moment came for him when he finally met Shah Rukh Khan. He recalled that he was shooting in the same place as King Khan and tried his luck to meet him.
“I sent a message across to him––I didn’t think he’d know me, but, he called me to his trailer – he knew my entire bio! He made me feel so special. I was already a fan, but that day I was probably his biggest fan. I was nervous and in awe throughout. I once spoke to his posters…and now there he was, in front of me. How can I even explain what that felt like?”
The year 2017 had been an exceptional year for this actor.
Around two years ago, we saw the Badass Babua in Bareilly Ki Barfi and though the film’s main hero was Ayushmann Khurrana, the audience couldn’t stop praising Rajkummar Rao’s performance. His stellar transformation from a naive saree-salesman to the man who commands a room was simply awe-inspiring.
That’s not all!
Rajkummar delivered an amazeballs one-man show with Trapped which made us wonder that if one man has so much potential in him, how is he still not the most talked-about actor yet?
Trapped didn’t have a long list of actors and was completely dependent on Rao’s able shoulders and he carried the film with such conviction that even in points when the audience is thinking of ways to get out of the trap, he holds you till the end.
The limitations of his character ‘Shaurya’ don’t allow him to venture into a dangerous territory until he’s afraid of death and the audience is afraid for him.
In an image-driven, PR-managed industry, each actor has turned into a brand and with every brand comes its baggage. But that is not the case with Rao. The ‘Trapped’ actor’s visibility is limited to his work and we seldom find him in stories that are not associated with his projects.
“I knew my success depended more on my work than my appearance.”
With 9 years in this industry, this isn’t the first time that Rao has shone as a promising man. Hansal Mehta’s Shahid (2013) was a breakthrough role in this actor’s life and he won the prestigious National Award for his performance.
With Citylights (2014) and Aligarh (2016), Rao had shown his mettle and was way ahead of his contemporaries when it comes to doing the job of an actor.
His name might not feature in Koffee with Karan’s Rapid Fire but we all know that Hindi cinema is much more than that small group who run a mutual-appreciation society.
Even before he started doing titular roles, Rao’s spark and ability to mesh in a scene were evident from his extended-cameo appearances in films like Love Sex Aur Dhokha (2010), Ragini MMS (2011) and even, Queen (2014).
Most newbies get launched with a lot of hype and even if their performances are underwhelming, they get multiple chances to reboot their sinking career.
Rao has no godfather in the industry and after his course at FTII, he came to Mumbai to struggle like thousands of other people. But unlike many, he succeeded!
“Yes, nepotism exists but there is a ray of hope. I am just an ordinary guy from Gurgaon, who dreamt of becoming an actor. If I can do it, anyone can do it.”
One of Rao’s best films, Omerta, directed by Hansal Mehta was applauded at the Toronto International Film Festival and from what we’ve heard so far, this one will be another gem in Rajkummar’s crown.
The man is the most coveted actor in Bollywood right now and another milestone, Fanney Khan, with Aishwarya Rai, shows that even the mainstream guys are starting to catch up with him.
He was also seen in ALTBalaji’s web series, Bose: Dead or Alive, and like always, he sank into the character, Rao got his head shaved, gained some weight and even took up smoking.
“Gaining weight, losing weight and growing a beard is not method. That’s just being true to your character. Method acting is a training module. Any actor who undergoes that training is a method actor.”
There are very few actors who manage to build up a filmography as unique as Rao’s in 9 years and if he continues to portray characters that are as complex and interesting as these previous ones, his filmography will certainly leave a legacy.
2017 might not have been a great year for Hindi films but it certainly will be remembered as the year when the reign of Rajkummar Rao started.
Everything that goes around does come around because people who refused to cast him in a lead role before offer him movies now. His words for every person who is struggling – “I’ve believed in my craft, even when things weren’t going well. I just knew – I put it out in the Universe and attracted it all. Remember, no matter what anyone else says, no one is going to believe in you, the way YOU do – so hustle, and let the Universe do the rest.”
But what if the Universe a.k.a society pulls you down because of certain inabilities within you? What do you think differentiates Rajkummar Rao from the rest of the actors?
It is his zeal to move upward in his life and career, no matter how hard the world tries to pull him down. In the words of the famous YouTuber Bhuvan Bam: “Talent can never be pressed down under the bricks of pressure, talent has its way of oozing out of the cracks.” That’s where MagTapp comes in handy and gives us a second chance to resurrect our talent in the face of this constantly critical society. MagTapp gives you the confidence to understand and converse in your desired language. Because language should not be an obstacle in your path to Enlightenment. You’re a Genius! And let no one else tell you otherwise. MagTapp: empowering all lives to bring out the badass babuas from within you !!