What a year Rajkummar Rao had! From being an arthouse player he went into the 100-crore club with Stree. Earlier during the year he stunned us playing the terror kingpin in Hansal Mehta’s Omerta. In a freewheeling interview with Subhash K Jha, Rajkummar expresses the joy of being able to do the films that he wants to.
Raj, 2018 was a remarkably fruitful year for you. How do you look back on the year?
It was a wonderful year for me, just like 2017. I got to play a deadly terrorist in Omerta and a lover boy in Stree, two very contrasting characters. I am so glad people are liking the kind of work I am doing and the kind of films that are being made in our industry. There is a lot of gratitude in me. I just want to keep pushing my boundaries and keep exploring different characters with my films.
You are now counted among the most dependable actors of Hindi cinema. Does that put an extra responsibility on you?
I can’t work under pressure but yes, it’s overwhelming when people think of you like this. I’ve always listened to my heart barring once or twice, and that’s what has worked in my favour. I would keep doing films that I believe in and am very hopeful that I’ll keep getting the same love from our audiences.
It is being said that you have increased your remuneration quite a bit. Is this true?
(Laughs) I’ve never thought or talked about money. I never wanted to be an actor because I wanted to earn lot of money. My reason was only my love for my work. I’ve my team who deals in all my monetary aspects but all I can say is I’ve never left and will never leave a film because of money.
Stree has put you in the Rs. 100 crore club did you think it would become such a rage? What do you feel made it so popular?
We knew we’ve made a unique and an entertaining film but am sure none of us thought that, it would turn out to become one of the most profitable films of the year. We as a team had lot of fun while making Stree and I guess that’s what translated on screen and that’s what resonated with the audience as well. I am not sure what clicked, perhaps, the genre, not many people have tried this genre in our cinema.
Speaking of popularity the phrase ‘Bhikee pleej’ became a catch phrase. Where did that come from? Are you asked by fans to say it?
It was always in the script and as an actor I loved doing those particular scenes. Yes, there are lot of people who say Bicky Pleajj whenever they meet me. It has lot of connect with the audience.
You are counted along with Ayushmann Khurrana and Vicky Kaushal as apart of Everyman Hero trio? How is your equation with them? Is there a sense of competition among you three?
I’ve immense respect for both Ayushmann and Vicky. They both are doing some wonderful work and I feel very happy about it. I share a great rapport with them. I honestly don’t believe in competition in any art form. I think there is place for everyone and you’ve to be respectful towards others for their work.
Tell me about your projects in 2019 ?
There is Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga with Sonam and Anil sir (Kapoor), Mental Hai Kya with Kangana Ranaut, Made in China with Boman sir (Irani) and Mouni Roy, Turram Khan with Nushrat Bharucha and most probably Anurag Basu’s next with Fatima Sheikh. My hands are full. And that’s how I like it.
When does one see you direct a film?
I’m very happy acting at the moment and not thinking of directing anytime soon but may be one day I would love to direct.