Playing real-life characters gives me real high: Rajkummar Rao
For the actor, mental preparation for such parts takes precedence over physical transformation
He bagged a National Film Award when he essayed the life of lawyer Shahid Azmi in 2013 film Shahid. Now he is seen as Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose in the web series Bose: Dead/Alive. Actor Rajkummar Rao says portraying somebody's life on-screen gives him real high as he gets ecstatic over the response he gets from fans.
Rajkummar is on a roll. He has just won two Asia Pacific Screen Awards for his role in Newton, India's Oscar entry for the foreign film category.
Always one to go an extra mile for his roles, the Film and Television Institute of India alumnus had to gain 13 kg and go half bald for his role in Bose: Dead/Alive, which is available on Ekta Kapoor's digital app ALT Balaji.
"There is a sense of responsibility when you play a real-life character because there are people, who will see your work, make comparisons and judge you. They have all the rights to do that because they know the real person. They might have seen that person also," says Rajkummar.
"Actually, playing a real-life character as an actor gives me real high because there is so much of research material available in front of you. It's amazing how you get to recreate somebody else's life on-screen. It's wonderful when you get responses like, ‘You actually look like him'," he adds.
For the actor, mental preparation for such parts takes precedence over physical transformation. "I had to look like Netaji and was asked to gain weight and go half bald, but the mental preparation was more challenging as I had to read a lot of books on his life. Also, there's this autobiography on his life, which I used to read on sets. I even spent a lot of time at his house, Netaji Bhawan in Kolkata."
"It was fun -- the physical transformation. I got to eat a lot. Usually actors are required to follow a proper diet and not eat anything that they want. Also, shaving my head was an easy decision for me," adds the 33-year-old.
There's an ongoing controversy over Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Padmavati over conjectured distortion of historical facts, but Rajkummar says, in his case, for Bose: Dead/Alive, he had "all the creative freedom which was required to play Netaji on-screen. We didn't really think that we were making a web-series. A feature film could have easily been made out of it, but Ekta chose to make a web series. But my process of preparation didn't change, I worked the same way I would for a film," he says.
Rajkummar is riding high with the success of his recent films. "As an actor, I don't really think about what's going to happen at the box office, because that's something nobody knows. I really want to enjoy whatever I am doing and then see how it is being accepted."
"If a film does well, we all feel happy, but if it doesn't, I am still fine as I know that I have done my job with sincerity, maybe the film didn't connect well with the viewers," he adds.
With Bose: Dead/Alive now already receiving positive reviews from critics and viewers, Rajkummar is next looking forward to join the team of Newton in the US once he recovers from his leg injury. "I am very excited about Newton. Soon I will join the team in the US for promotions," he concludes.