Interview Hindi

Rajkummar Rao: If two people aren’t meant to be together, they will never be

The Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana actor speaks about his beliefs on relationships and heartbreaks.

Mayur Lookhar

The year 2017 will go down as Rajkummar Rao's year. His films may not have set box-office records, but the gifted actor has chipped in with one memorable performance after another. His show in Bareilly Ki Barfi (2017) earned him a letter of appreciation from no less than Amitabh Bachchan himself.  And Rao's film Newton (2017) is India’s official entry to the Oscars.

The actor has had four releases already this year and one more is coming up — first-time director Ratna Sinha's Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana. There is the much-awaited web series too, Bose: Dead/Alive.

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Rajkummar Rao is out to speak about his next, Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana, that is set to be released on Friday, 10 November. He is wearing a blazer and a lungi! On first glance, he looks like the late freedom fighter Subhas Chandra Bose, whom the actor will be seen playing in the web series. The lungi might be surprising, but given his fractured leg, Rao has few options.

Photo: Shutterbugs Images

Usually anyone with a leg fracture keeps his movements limited. Rao, however, walked on his crutches, across rooms, happily agreeing to journalists' requests for video interviews outside.

After a wait of two hours, it was finally our turn to interact with the star. You feel for the man and it is hard not to apologize for stealing away his rest. True professional that he is, Rao brushes it off with "not at all! I’m doing better now. I wanted to get done with the interviews.” 

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Hurt he may be, but Rajkummar Rao is buzzing with energy as he speaks about Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana. Like Bareilly Ki Barfi, this film, too, has a lead actress named Kriti (Kriti Kharbanda). And, like the earlier, film, here too Kriti’s character only pretends to love Rao's Satyendra.

Kharbanda’s character Aarti, though, does more harm. Going by the trailer, the leading lady dupes Satyendra into believing she loves him, only to run away on the wedding day. How tough is it to win a Kriti’s heart on the big screen?

Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana song: Kriti faces Rajkummar's wrath in 'Mera Intkam Dekhegi'

Rajkummar Rao breaks into a laugh and says, “I think I'll have to ask my punditji. What is this planet Kriti? What's the connection between these planets? However, I'm very happy. They both are amazing. Bareilly Ki Barfi has been a huge success; Kriti Sanon has got tremendous response. Once this film is released, I'm sure Kriti Kharbanda, too, will get immense response from the audience.”

The actor showers praise on his Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana co-star, saying, “Kriti is a fun-loving, full-of-life girl. She is very passionate about her work, too. She will be a revelation in this film.”

The two different tales, Bareilly Ki Barfi and Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana, both have Rajkummar Rao essaying two different shades in one character. This, says the actor, prompted him to take up the project.

Rajkummar Rao and Kriti Kharbanda in Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana

“The character [Satyendra] is very relatable," he said. "There was something new for me to do. As you saw in the trailer, the first half and the second half are very different. Like in Bareilly Ki Barfi, there are different traits to this person. It’s fun to explore those in one film, being the same guy. Satyendra has a sweet, romantic side to him in the first half. In the second half, he is all intense.”

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Each role comes with its own set of challenges and playing an IAS (Indian Administrative Service) officer was no easy task. Speaking about his method, Rajkummar Rao said, “With a film like this, where you are playing an IAS officer, it’s important to know what is the kind of work they do, what are the duties they have to perform, their body language, the clothes they wear. I work towards all that and try to make the character as human as possible, and not try to make it an authoritative character. I have friends who are IAS officers. The one common thing I found was that most of them wear spectacles.”

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Rajkummar Rao began 2017 with a stupendous performance in Vikramaditya Motwane’s Trapped. Just when we thought he couldn’t get better, he proved his versatlity with Bareilly Ki Barfi. Then came Newton, where he played a dedicated, sincere government clerk on election duty.

The actor has been appreciated for all the roles he took up this year, each very different from the other. An Akshay Kumar does 3-4 films a year, but Rao has fared better with five releases in 2017.

“It [doing so many films in one calendar year] was not intentional,” he said. “ It just happened. I don’t even look back and see, ‘oh wow, I have had so many releases this year'. As long as I’m ready for different work, to take up exciting scripts, I’m okay. I don’t have any complaints. I don’t plan anything in life. I just live in the moment, give my 200%."

A look at Rao's filmography will take you back to the days when artistes used to work on multiple projects simultaneously. Rao, though, takes one film at a time, “These days most actors do one film at a time," he said. "I can’t live two characters simultaneously, that’s split personality. You can’t do that.” 

Artistes are often asked how they relate with the characters they play. Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana’s Satyendra nurses a broken heart and is out to avenge his humiliation. Did Rajkummar Rao ever have bitter feelings over a heartbreak? 

“I’ve had heartbreaks in my life," he confessed. "You feel very angry, helpless, you want to do something in that moment, but I’ve never been vengeful. I believe in the universe. If two people aren’t meant to be together, they won’t be together. There was a time, though, when I fought for my love and got it back. Sometimes, you have to make an effort if you want something badly in life.”

Before he takes off, we ask the man why he returned to Farah Khan’s Lip Sing Battle television reality show, where he had broken his leg. And how did he manage to perform with an injured leg? 

“I did two performances on a wheelchair, one was with Hrithik Roshan sir," he said. "He came all the way just to dance with me. That was very sweet of him. I wanted to go back to the show. Had I not done so, it would have stuck in my mind that I went there and could not finish it.” 

The star credited Farah Khan and her team for taking care of him. “Thanks to Farah Khan and the team," he said. "They were extra careful this time. Farah is so loving. She calls me twice a day, and we meet every alternate day... she was there with me throughout when the accident happened. She took me to the doctor. It was her doctor who conducted the operation. She and Patralekhaa [Rao's girlfriend] are my two strong support systems."

After Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana is released, the web series, Bose: Dead/Alive, will be launched. As he leaves, the actor promises to meet us again soon in connection with the series.

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