Born in Chandigarh and having travelled the world along with his father, Raaj Singh Arora has dabbled in television, films and OTT. Best known for playing the love interest of Sakshi Tanwar in the web series Karrle Tu Bhi Mohabbat, Raaj also made a mark with films like W and The Great Indian Escape, and the Telugu hit-maker Sahasam. He was recently seen the Sanjay Dutt-starrer Torbaaz, which had a digital release on Netflix. We caught up with the actor for a quick chat about his acting journey, and more. Excerpts from the interview:
If you were to pick a favourite moment from the last movie or series you shot, which would that be? And why?
The last movie that I shot was Torbaaz, starring Sanjay Dutt and Nargis Fakhri. The movie featured a lot of kids as it revolves around the lives of child suicide bombers. I play the cricket coach to these kids living in refugee areas. My introduction to the kids was quite informal. They were not informed about the character I was playing, and the team gave me a day to break the ice with the kids, since most of my scenes were with them. When I met the kids for the first time, they very inquisitive, and we gradually started bonding. In fact, on some days we would just play cricket!
Any funny memory from a movie set you would like to share?
I’ll pick Torbaaz again. We were shooting in Kyrgyzstan in extreme weather conditions. There is this scene where I had to teach wicket-keeping to the kids. I was just provided with a track suit for the scene and did not have proper warmers. My luggage arrived a day later. So I shot that scene in just a track suit in a nail-biting cold. As soon as I sat down for the shot my trousers got torn. The shoot was paused for a whole 15 minutes, and the entire cast and crew of around 100 people were rolling with laughter.
Most number of retakes you have given?
The maximum number of retakes I had was for Karrle Tu Bhi Mohabbat for Alt Balaji. There was this scene where Sakshi Tanwar, Ram Kapoor and I are kidnapped on gun point, and we had to argue with each other. But we couldn’t control our laughter and the director had to undergo around 20-25 takes.
If you could swap your gender, one role you would have loved to do?
I would love to do any role played by Tabu – Maqbool, Haider, Maachis, and several others. I absolutely admire her acting skills. There is a lot of gravity in all her roles, be it commercial cinema or art films. I was a kid when she saw her in Maachis, and since then I have have been awestruck by her.
One thing you hate about Bollywood?
One thing that I do not like about Bollywood is they do not believe in experimenting. The industry is very stereotypical. They give badges to actors depending upon the roles they have played, and even the actors have typecast themselves. They are not open to playing different kinds of roles. For example, if an actor has a romantic lover-boy image he would stick to that. I really admire the way Aamir Khan experiments with his looks and roles in every movie. As an actor we should be more open to experimenting with ourselves, especially those actors who have achieved a lot in life, and have those resources at their disposal. Also, OTT has given a platform to many talented actors. They can now showcase their acting skills, which was not possible earlier.
The most filmy thing you have done in real life?
This was during my college days. I had played a prank on my family on April Fool’s Day. I applied red ink on my head and clothes and pretended that I had met with an accident. They were really worried, and came to know only later that I had played a prank in them.
One secret talent you have?
I am a great cook. I have been living on my own since I was 11 years old, and therefore have learnt to cook for survival. And, not I can cook different kinds of cuisines — Continental, Chinese or pure Indian dishes like a sarson ka saag.
If you were a ’90s Bollywood movie, what would be your title?
I believe 90’s Bollywood was ruled by Govinda, and I am a fan of his work. He was the true superstar that time. So any title of his movie will be good for me.