The unlikely new star

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Rajkummar Rao is on a high, with his feet firmly on the ground

Rajkummar Rao is in a good space, as more and more directors are writing roles keeping just him in mind. With a slew of interesting films such as OmertaStree, Fanney KhanMental Hai Kya and Five Weddings lined up, Rajkummar said he has been on a high, yet feels humbled, because filmmakers are considering him worthy of the roles. He is now looking forward to doing more interesting work. “Earlier I had very few films and very limited work but the doors have opened and I am embracing as much as I can. There are plenty of options to choose from,” he says.

The Woods gets the Newton star to look ahead as well as look back..

The Woods: How has the journey been?

Rajkummar: I feel blessed actually. There are so many people out there who come to the city of dreams. I knew I had to struggle every day and was prepared for it — to meet people and carve a niche for myself. There was no other way out for me. I never thought that people would welcome me on the first day. It took time but it has been a worthy journey.

• On one hand you have received critical as well as box office acclaim for films like Bareilly Ki Barfi and Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana, and on the other you are choosing films like City LightsKai Po Che!Gangs Of Wasseypur and Newton. Are you trying to balance your career?

• I want to balance my career with all types of exciting roles. Be it a Stree or Omerta or a Mental Hai Kya, I am just trying not to limit myself to any particular genre. I want to explore everything. Destiny and the audience have played a huge role in my career and their energy has helped me take it forward. I will always be thankful to them.

raj kumar• Tell us about your upcoming movie Omerta?

• When Hansal Mehta Sir asked me what are you doing in July, I said nothing. He said ‘Let’s start this film’. I knew about the story earlier as he wanted to make this film. It’s an intense, fast-paced thriller. I play quite an evil guy. He is brought up in London. As a character he does namaz five times a day. (Omerta is based on terrorist Omar Saeed Sheikh’s life)

• Was there any research for the role?

• I didn’t know about terrorists and their mind. I read a lot of books and saw videos and he has a lot of hatred and anger in him.

• Earlier you did Shahid which was similar to Omerta.

• With Shahid I learnt what not to do. Shahid and Omar came from the same background and both were victims and how they chose different paths. Shahid chose to save people whereas Omar chose to kill people.

• How has your bond with Hansal Mehta grown over the years?

• It’s more personal than professional. We make films every year. For the last seven to eight years we have been working together and he’s like a father figure to me.

• People are calling you the Leonardo DiCaprio of Bollywood now.

• It’s a huge compliment. I feel blessed. I love these titles and it tells me what people think of me. However I don’t let these come in way of my work.

• Tell us about your forthcoming movies?

• Well, there’s Stree being directed by Amar Kaushik which is a challenging role. I will be getting into the space of horror comedy. It was great interacting with the locals of Chanderi, picking up the language nuances and mannerisms for my character. Then there’s director Prakash Kovelamudi’s Mental Hai Kya with Kangana Ranaut. I am doing Fanney Khan with Anil Kapoor and Aishwarya Rai, being directed by Atul Manjrekar. Anil Kapoor — he’s so full of energy and life. What a talent! We have finished shooting. I have learnt how to be disciplined, to love what you do and be as hungry, and look good as you are looking in your 60s after working with him. Lastly there’s Five Weddings with Nargis Fakhri. I had a great time shooting with her. She is like one of my male friends and we used to make funny videos on Instagram.

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