In an industry traditionally dominated by the Khans and the Kapoors, a name stands out prominently – Rajkummar Rao. A director’s dream, Rao’s filmography is something he can and should be justly proud of. From Ragini MMS (2011) to Shahid (2013) to Stree (2018), Rao’s performances have been singled out by critics as being exceptional in their nuance and delivery. The 34-year-old has always been a poster boy of the ‘good cinema’ circuit and with his recent films like Bareilly Ki Barfi and Stree, he’s proved that content is king and content can bring in the money as much as masala can.

Rajkummar Rao
Rajkummar Rao and Shraddha Kapoor in Stree

In an exclusive interview with MW, the actor speaks about the recent shift in Hindi cinema, what he looks for before picking a project and his dream character.

There has been a marked change in the sense that ‘good cinema’ is also raking in the moolah these days and is being given due credit. What do you think has changed?

It’s a welcome change, whatever it is. I’m very happy that it’s happening and that people are accepting content and character-driven films now and they want to see something different on screen. I’m very glad that I’m a part of that change. 

How do you look at your career graph so far and would you change anything about it?

Would I change anything about it? No! I’m very happy with it and feel blessed, honestly. I know it doesn’t happen to everyone . . . the things that are happening to me. It’s my mother’s blessings and everybody’s blessings. I don’t want to change anything. I’m having a great time.

Rajkummar Rao

What’s the first thing you look for before signing a film? Script, director, guts?

The script, definitely. There’s nothing bigger than the script. I have to like a script and only then I can be a part of the film. If my heart is not there, then there’s no point doing it.

A film (past/present) you wish you were a part of?

The Godfather.

Your dream character?

Jake LaMotta from Raging Bull

A secret talent you have that nobody knows about? 

I can brush with both my hands!

What are your resolutions for 2019?

No, I don’t believe in resolutions. You want to do something, just go ahead and do it – don’t wait for it.

If you had to get one Bollywood dialogue tattooed – what would it be?

“Amar Akbar Anthony” because I believe in being secular and I believe in equality.

Rajkummar Rao
Ayushmann Khurrana, Kriti Sanon and Rajkummar Rao in Bareilly Ki Barfi

Rao, along with his peers Radhika Apte and Kalki Koechlin has recently joined hands with Audible, the world’s leading seller and producer of downloadable audiobooks. He’s in august company in this regard – the company has previously worked with Oscar-winning actors, critically acclaimed authors and other leading personalities.

Rajkummar Rao

“It’s a unique experience. It’s a great way to listen to stories – we live in such times that we don’t actually get to sit and read. For such people, it’s a great way to listen to stories. You can be in your car and listen to the story and even listen to one when you’re on a treadmill. I think Radhika, Kalki and me have given our heart and soul to narrate the stories,” he said.

(Header credits: Munna S)

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