Payal Rajput: Nothing can stop you from achieving your goal
The actor talks about her Sandalwood debut with Head Bush, working alongside Dhananjay, and meeting Puneeth Rajkumar on the sets of the film
Payal Rajput, an actor from Punjab, who made her Hindi debut with Veerey Ki Wedding, feels fortunate with the way her career in South Indian cinema is going forward. “I started with a Punjabi film, for which I won awards, then came to the limelight with a Telugu film, RX 100, and also worked in Tamil. With my Sandalwood debut also in place, I will soon follow up with Malayalam too. I’m aiming to conquer the hearts of people by working in different languages,” says Payal.
Speculations about Payal making her Sandalwood debut always did their rounds, which finally came through with the gangster drama, Head Bush directed by Shoonya. The actor says Dhananjay, the lead actor and producer of Head Bush approached her for the role. “I knew about Dhananjay’s popularity in Sandalwood. When we met in Hyderabad, he shared details about my role and the script, and I thought it was perfect for my debut,” she says.
Head Bush is based on Agni Sreedhar’s autobiography My Days in the Underworld, and Payal agrees that playing a real-life character was a huge responsibility. “Being part of a biopic, we have to portray real-life characters, and the pressure will be more than the fictional roles. I did a fair amount of homework for my role, in consultation with Dhananjay, and especially with Agni Sreedhar. I have great respect for the writer,” says Payal.
It was important that Payal completely understood the milieu in which she was making her debut in Sandalwood. It wasn’t a run-of-the-mill subject, and the period setting of Head Bush made it all the more challenging. “Half knowledge is always dangerous. When I got to play the role, I sat with Agni Sreedhar to understand the subject, and specifically, my character. She is a girl from Punjab, who lived in Bangalore, spoke broken Kannada, and falls in love with MP Jayaraj. Although I had heard the name of MP Jayaraj, I didn’t have a lot of information about his background. It was necessary for me to do the groundwork to understand my character even better. The reason they chose me is that I’m a Punjabi and fluent in the language, and I suited the character they had in mind. In fact, I came to know that the real-life person on whom my character is based on was alive. I wanted to meet her, but it didn’t happen. They gave me the character sketch and got me to work on the body language and the slang. I have even tried to learn a few lines in Kannada, and I managed to lend my own voice. I did a lot for this film, and hope to see good results,” she says.
Payal shares her experiences of meeting the late actor Puneeth Rajkumar on the sets of Head Bush. “I met Puneeth sir, and expressed my excitement of meeting him. He was happy about my Sandalwood debut,” says the actor, who has lovely things to say about her co-star Dhananjay. “Working with Dhananjay was a comfortable experience. He is such a brilliant actor, and I have learned so much from him. He is a down-to-earth person, and I’m sure he would be a dear friend for the rest of my life. Moreover, the Kannada industry has been very welcoming, and I’ve experienced this right from the time I entered the sets of Head Bush.” With the world’s eyes trained on Kannada cinema, Payal is glad she is making her debut in this time and age. She asserts that it is the best time to be in cinema, irrespective of the language. “Today, cinema is providing everything to an actor, and nothing stops you from achieving your goal. You just need to have the required talent and work at your craft, and you are good to go.”
Apart from Head Bush, Payal also has the Telugu film, Ginna, co-starring Vishnu Manchi, which will be released in multiple languages, hitting the screens on the same day. “There is double pressure when you have two releases on the same day. I have some good vibes about Head Bush, and can’t wait to watch it on the silver screen,” says Payal, who is waiting to know the film’s result, as it will help her to take that next step in the Kannada industry.