“Didn’t come here to chase fame or money”

Looking back at his decade-long career, “Shahid” and “Stree” star Rajkummar Rao says his journey in Bollywood has been surreal and rewarding but not without its share of challenges.
The actor said his late mother’s faith in him kept him going even on days when he had nothing when he moved to Mumbai from Gurgaon to chase his childhood dream.
Rao started his career with Dibakar Banerjee’s “Love Sex Aur Dhokha” 10 years ago and soon earned acclaim for his performances in films like “Kai Po Che!”, “Aligarh” and “Newton”.
In an interview with PTI, the National award-winning actor spoke about completing a successful decade in the film industry.
“The initial two years when I was looking for work, it was extremely tough. There were days when there was no money to buy food. But my mother gave me that confidence had this unshakable trust in me.
“I would call back home and they would send me money so that I could have food on my table,” the actor told.
Rao, 36, a Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) graduate, said it was only after Banerjee’s found-footage drama in 2010 that things started moving forward for him.
But even when he was struggling, the thought of putting his acting ambitions on hold didn’t cross Rao’s mind.
“I never thought of giving up, of going back and doing something else. I never came with a plan-B. This is what I wanted to do ever since I was a kid. Things started moving post ‘LSD’ and since then the journey has been good.
“When I look back, it feels surreal. I never expected this to happen, to do all these wonderful films and roles. I didn’t come to this city chasing fame or money. I am in films because I really love it,” he added.
It isn’t that when his success streak started, there were no setbacks.
After consecutive hits, from 2017 comedy “Bareilly Ki Barfi”, National Award-winning black comedy-drama “Newton” to the 2018 horror comedy “Stree”, Rao saw a failure with his big 2019 Diwali release “Made in China”.
Rao said despite the film’s failure, he is proud of the project as he looks at failures only as temporary.
“I am proud of the film. There are those films as well which I think I could’ve avoided, but that’s alright. What I’ve realised is you can’t be low. The key is to get up and move on to the next one.”
Up next, Rao will be seen in director Harshvardhan Kulkarni’s “Badhaai Do”, co-starring Bhumi Pednekar. Backed by Junglee Pictures, the film is a sequel to the 2018 National Award-winning hit “Badhaai Ho!”.
The actor, who plays a cop in the film, said the movie is not “exactly a sequel.”
“Badhaai Do” continues the spirit of the first film—which chronicled the story of a middle-age couple facing unexpected pregnancy—and aims to deliver a timely message in an engaging manner.
“It’s a different world with new characters but our producers are the same. I’m extremely happy the way it has shaped up. Harshwardhan is a director to look out for. Bhumi and I had such a gala time making the film with him. The audience will see me in a new light with this one.
“What we are trying to say with the film is important but we are saying it in an entertaining manner. It’s the kind of film you’d laugh while watching but also take back home something from it,” he added.