Actor Rajkummar Rao is now among the most acclaimed actors in Hindi cinema, having appeared in both independent movies and mainstream hits. But there was a time when, like so many others, he was trying to make his mark in Mumbai with little resources.
Rajkummar appeared at the India Today Conclave East 2022 earlier this week, ahead of the release of his new film, Hit: The First Case. During the conversation, Rajkummar spoke about evergreen issues concerning the film industry, such as the emergence of streaming services, nepotism, and the success of South Indian language films. He also spoke about the experiences that shaped him, first as a student, and then as a struggling actor in Mumbai.
He said, “It was difficult being an outsider. I grew up in a joint family in Gurgaon and at that time, it was just a small town. I fell in love with cinema as a kid and knew this is what I wanted to do. I used to ride a bicycle 70 km up and down to Delhi when I was doing theatre. It was like going to meet your girlfriend. I worked really hard at FTII. I wanted to learn as much as I could.”
He added, “Eventually, I moved to Mumbai, but that was tough. There were times when I lived on one Parle-G ka packet a day with just Rs 18 in my bank account. Luckily, I had friends from film school who helped. But I never had a Plan B. I always wanted to become an actor.”
Rajkummar broke out with roles in Love Sex Aur Dhoka and Ragini MMS, but gained further prominence with acclaimed performances in films such as Shahid, Kai Po Che! and Aligarh. He has also appeared in mainstream hits such as Stree and Bareilly Ki Barfi and also starred in the Oscar-nominated film The White Tiger.