Will This Be The Year Of Rajkummar Rao?

‘I wish every year to be like this where I have amazing but different films coming up.’

IMAGE: Alaya F and Rajkummar Rao in Srikanth.

Rajkummar Rao spent considerable time with the real life Srikanth Bolla to get a sense of the man he would be playing in the film, Srikanth.

“He was very open about his life,” Rajkummar tells Subhash K Jha.

“He is such a great guy and so full of life. After going through many hardships, what he has achieved is phenomenal. He is a go-getter and a man with passion for his work and compassion for everyone.

“I had so many questions for him and he was kind to answer all of them with patience. I had put him on tape and would watch those videos again and again to understand the detailing of his body language and mannerisms.”

IMAGE: Jyotika and Rajkummar Rao in Srikanth.

Speaking of actors who have played blind men in the past, Rao says, “Naseer sir in Sparsh and Al Pacino in Scent Of A Woman are some of my favourite performances. I saw these films at FTII and loved their work. My intention was never to change anything. I have given it my all and my take to play a visually impaired was very different to whatever I had seen in past.”

The actor admits Srikanth was a special challenge in his career.

“It was very difficult. I had to go through a rigorous prep. I started with visiting blind schools and spending hours with real-life, visually impaired people,” he says.

“Just observing them for hours and then talking to them at length knowing about what they feel about different situations, how they handle things…. it was important to study their mannerisms and body language. I have not done anything like Srikanth before.

“This is the first time I’m playing a visually impaired character or a character with some kind of disability and I knew it would be very challenging. Somewhere, I was very nervous and scared.

“I like things which are challenging because that’s the fun of being an actor, when you push yourself out of your comfort zone. Whenever you play a character with some physical traits, there is a very thin line of making it caricature or doing it with authenticity. Authenticity comes with an enormous amount of preparation and research.

“There have not been many films made on visually impaired characters and as an actor, I knew this was my opportunity to portray something which has not been seen before. Also it’s a biopic, so that’s another responsibility. I got to live Srikanth’s life throughout the filming process.”

IMAGE: Rajkummar Rao in Srikanth.

Ask him about films not doing well at the box office, and Rao says he is not worried.

“Good films are doing well like 12th Fail, Madgaon Express, Chamkila… A good story and well-intended film will always find its audience.

Srikanth is very inspiring and entertaining. I feel the kind of response we got from the audience for our trailer gave us lot of positivity that people would want to watch Srikanth. True stories attract everyone if it has something new to offer.”

Where does Rajkummar place Srikanth?

“I can’t place my films, I love them all of them. I feel blessed that I have so many amazing films in my filmography. I am fortunate that got to work with some of the finest makers of our industry. It’s a director’s medium and you only grow as an actor working with good makers.

“My ambition will always be to push my limits as an actor. There is a lot of fire in me and I am very hungry as an actor.”

IMAGE: Janhvi Kapoor and Rajkummar Rao in Mr & Mrs Mahi.

The actor has another film coming up this month, Mr & Mrs Mahi. Will this be the year of Rajkummar Rao?

“Thank you so much,” he says with a laugh.

“I’m so proud of Mr & Mrs Mahi It’s a film with a big heart and so relatable. I wish every year to be like this where I have amazing but different films coming up. Of course, I won’t necessarily do four films every year. But whatever I do, my audience should be entertained.”