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'Acting is not about looking good and saying your lines...': Rajkummar Rao time travels to his FTII days

07:00 AM Oct 22, 2021 | S Ramachandran

Rajkummar Rao is on a roll. After headlining comedies like "Bareilly Ki Barfi" and "Stree", he is now gearing up to tickle the audiences' funnybone with Hum Do Hamare Do. The film, which sees him opposite Kriti Sanon, is a paradigm shift from the situational comedies he has starred in earlier.

“It is different from what I have done earlier. I used to play a character who was in a funny situation like say a Bareilly Ki Barfi, Ludo or even Stree, where I had to stick to the nuances of the character and not be funny. Here my character is funny in itself,” he explains.

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Directed by Abhishek Jain, in the movie Rajkummar stars as Dhruv, who, in order to marry the love of his life (played by Kriti), 'adopts' parents (essayed by Paresh Rawal and Ratna Pathak Shah). The film releases on Disney+Hotstar on October 29. And the actor is going all out promote the film.

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The last few years haven't been great for the actor with many of his films like Roohi, Chhalaang, Made in China, Judgementall Hai Kya not garnering much appreciation. Rajkummar has his hopes pinned on Hum Do Hamare Do to bring him a much-needed respite from a lull.

The National Award winner, who started his Bollywood journey in 2010 with Love, Sex Aur Dhokha, became an overnight sensation with the horror film, Ragini MMS in 2011. And it has been no looking back for Rajkummar since then, who went on to feature in critically-acclaimed films like Gangs of Wasseypur 2, Shahid, CityLights, Aligarh, Trapped, Newton, among several others.

Speaking about his foray into showbiz, Rajkummar is honest to admit that acting was the only talent he had. “I fell in love with acting when I was a kid. I was never chasing fame and money, and acting was what I always wanted to do. My friends used to persuade me to go to Mumbai since I was good at mimicry. But becoming an actor is not that simple or easy. I did theatre and then went to the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) to hone my craft. Cinema is changing and there's a lot of talent out there and I wanted to come prepared to Bollywood,” the actor says, who had aspirations of doing theatre.

Also Read: 'Not a film, it is an emotion': Rajkummar Rao, Hansal Mehta celebrate 8 years of 'Shahid'

Taking a walk down memory lane to his training days, the Ludo actor says, “There was a wonderful place called Shriram Centre for Performing Arts near Mandi House. I enrolled for a two-year acting course there and used to travel from Gurugram to Delhi for that. I come from a middle-class family and we were not too well off financially. My dad, Satyapal Yadav, was a government employee working in the revenue department. Later, when I got decent marks in class 12, I applied to different colleges and got into one where I pursued Bachelor of Arts.”

The actor, born Raj Kumar Yadav, would leave home by 6:30 am, attend lectures and then go to his acting classes and return home late at night — a schedule he followed for three years. “Then I got to know that FTII was restarting their acting course and since I always wanted to act in films, I applied and got through in my first attempt. There you are not just attending classes, but breathing cinema and 'talking actors' with some great teachers,” says Rao, who only knew one Hollywood star, Tom Cruise, before his FTII days.

Also Read: Rajkummar Rao to star in Anubhav Sinha's social drama 'Bheed'

Recalling his two-and-a-half years at FTII, Rajkummar says, “The place where I come from in Prem Nagar, Gurgaon, gave me access only to Hindi films. At FTII, I watched the cinema of greats like Daniel Day Lewis, Meryl Streep, Akira Kurosawa, Francois Truffaut, Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, among others, and was highly inspired by them. FTII opened a new world for me. I realised that acting is not about looking good and saying your lines. For me, it became a much deeper spiritual journey,” he shares.

Currently, Rajkummar is busy with Hit: The First Case, in which he is paired with Sanya Malhotra. The movie sees Rajkummar play a police officer. Incidentally, his other movie, Badhaai Do with Bhumi Pednekar, sees him as a havaldar. The movie is a sequel to the 2016 Ayushmann Khurrana-starrer, Badhaai Ho.

Also Read: Nahi bhi karta toh chal sakta tha': Rajkummar Rao reveals there are few films that he is not proud of

Playing is a cop is not a first for Rajkummar. He has donned the uniform for his previous films like Shaitaan and Talaash. “Playing a cop is always exciting for me. I shot in Dehradun for Badhaai Do and Hit is also a thrilling story,” says Rao. “I am a big fan of films like Ardh Satya, Shool and Ab Tak Chhappan. I like these kinds of characters... They are my reference points when I play a cop,” Rao adds.

The first schedule of Hit: The first Case was completed at Khasakothi Hotel in Jaipur, which doubled up as a police station for the film. After two more days of shooting in Samod, Jaipur, the film will have its final schedule in Mumbai for a week and then it will be wrapped up. Rajkummar also has Anubhav Sinha's social drama, Bheed, and Vasan Bala's Monica, O My Darling, in his kitty.

Also Read: Rajkummar Rao, Radhika Apte, Huma Qureshi to star in Vasan Bala's 'Monica, O My Darling'; first look out

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