Rajkummar Rao is one of the finest actors Bollywood has seen in recent times. The actor, who started off his journey in Hindi films with the critically and commercially successful film, Love Sex Aur Dhokha, has, over the years, emerged as the new face of meaningful cinema in India. But Rao, who is versatile to the core, knows it well that how to strike a perfect balance between commercial potboiler cinema and meaningful cinema. On one hand, he does films like Behen Hogi Teri and Bareilly Ki Barfi, on the other hand, he also appears in movies like Trapped and Shahid. After receiving rave reviews for his recently released film Barfi Ki Barfi, the actor will next be seen in Newton. In an interaction with Eastern Eye, the National award-winning actor talks about his film and role in detail.
Brief us about your film Newton and your character in it.
My character’s name is Nutan and Newton both. He is a rookie government clerk who has been assigned a job to find the possibilities to conduct elections, fair elections, in the jungles of Chattisgarh where, of course, is the presence of Naxalite as well. So, he has taken this job on his shoulders. But people around him are not interested to take that dangerous path which he is sincerely committed to doing. So, that’s Newton for you. It’s a black comedy. It talks about something very important, which is the voting process in a democracy, but in a very humorous way. It’s not preachy and all. It is an entertaining film and touches upon some very important issues of society, like child marriage, casteism and all.
Apart from the script and director’s brief, where did you get the inspiration from to play such an oddball character?
Everything was in the script. I can’t deny the fact that my inspiration is from the script itself and the way it was written. Newton is somebody who is very idealistic in nature. And, probably, I am also idealistic when it comes to my work and acting. So, I could relate to him in so many ways. He is somebody who wants to do his job with full honesty and sincerity. That is how I am. I don’t want to corrupt myself when it comes to acting. I don’t want to follow the herd mentality. I want to create my own path. And I just want to stick to it throughout my career. But I did have a lot of discussions with Amit, my director, regarding my character. Then we came up with the physical look and decided to have curly hair for the character. So, that used to take almost two and a half hour every day to get ready. You just have to believe in the character’s ideology. That was my main concern. He was somebody who was standing against corruption. He was trying to find order in this chaotic world. He’s something who is standing against the system.
Did you have any workshops to prepare for your role?
For Newton, we did not have any workshops. But as I told you I spent a lot of time with Amit. I wanted to see his vision. I wanted to know how he is visualizing Newton and what he is expecting out of me to perform. My process is very organic. I first understand my character. Then I just react on set. I really don’t think how will I perform a certain scene. If I know my character in and out, then I think you can put me in any situation and I would react to it.
Which has been the most challenging role of your career so far?
There are so many of them. Honestly, I feel very nervous and scared before I start any new project. I just finished Bose almost ten days back. I was petrified before I started shooting for it. I was constantly thinking how would I portray a person like Neta Ji on screen. I had to work really hard for that.
Do the roles which you play take a toll on your physical and emotional well-being?
It, of course, takes a toll on your physical health. Like I gained 12 Kgs for Bose and now I have to lose all that. Gaining weight is easy as you can just eat whatever you want. Now, I am in the process of losing that weight. I think it will take a while to get rid of all this.
Emotionally also it affects a lot. For me, acting is more about emotions than the physical transformation. Physical transformation is something which helps, people can react to it instantly but for me, it’s the internal process which matters the most than the physical transformation.
Has any role in your career left you drained emotionally because you are an actor who is known to become the character that you portray on screen?
So many of them. Ometra was a very disturbing act for me. CityLights, Shahid, Trapped and now Newton, all have been emotionally draining. And Aligarh also.
What do you do to get out of your character?
Well, I travel. I go out and travel. I forget about everything. I go out of the country for ten days or so. If not out of the country, then out of this city for sure. Then I come back and start preparing for my next film.