Ahead of the release of HIT: The First Case, actor Rajkummar Rao chats about his film choices 

The film sees Rao, a taekwondo expert, pulling off some real-life action sequences on screen for the first time

Sharmistha Ghosal Published :  14th July 2022 12:00 AM   |   Published :   |  14th July 2022 12:00 AM

Rajkummar Rao

Prolific actor Rajkummar Rao, who has been enthralling us with his impressive performances since his debut in 2010 with Love Sex Aur Dhoka, believes that the only thing that has helped him survive in Bollywood for 12 years is his honesty towards the profession. “I have always listened to my gut feeling while saying yes to a film. If there’s something new that challenges me as an actor, I always try it. The journey as an actor has been very exciting for me since I never imagined it this way… it seems surreal. The only lesson I have picked up in all these years is to listen to one’s own heart,” tells the rooted artiste.

Last seen in Badhaai Do, a comedy-drama on lavender marriage in a small town set-up, Rao is back in a Telugu remake, HIT: The First Case which released in theatres today. The film sees Rao, a taekwondo expert, pulling off some real-life action sequences on screen for the first time.

Here are excerpts from a chat we had with Rao when he came to Kolkata for the promotion of HIT:

HIT is a remake film, any particular reason you said yes to it?

When we started having conversations initially for remaking HIT in the Hindi language, honestly, I wasn’t too keen on it since I personally am not very fond of remakes. But when I watched the film I found it to be a brilliantly made thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat. I had a chat with Sailesh Kolanu to know more and he seemed to be very passionate about the project and wanted a new voice and a new take with a redone script and different approach. Hence I said yes to the film. Also, it happens to be my first film where I play a cop and get to do a lot of action

Rajkummar Rao
Rajkummar Rao

Tell us how you prepared for the role?

The film was very demanding since I had never done such an intense character like this before. It was both physically and mentally taxing. My character, Vikram, suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and is struggling with panic attacks. There were no reference points for the physical aspects or manifestations of the attacks, for which I had to study a lot about the disease. I watched a lot of reference videos of experts as well. It was very difficult to get out of the spell since as an actor a part of you too gets transported into the character’s world.

We also see you doing a lot of action, could you put your Taekwondo lessons to use?

Not really, because it’s a very real action film where there are no flying-in-the-air action sequences, which many cop films do have. But we had very real-life action scenes that are usually a part of a real policeman’s life.

How was it working with Sanya Malhotra?

Sanya is a fantastic actor and a dear friend and I have been following her work for a long time now and was looking for an opportunity to share screen space with her. In Ludo, we acted together but were not paired opposite each other. She is very fun-loving and real and thankfully, we share the same wavelength and passion for work.

Rajkummar Rao
Rajkummar Rao

The film also sees your character struggling with PTSD. What’s your take on mental health issues?

It is extremely important to talk about mental illnesses and take professional help. We see many people, especially the young generation, who are not aware that they are going through clinical depression and need help. We need to open up about mental health issues and I hope my character Vikram’s journey in this film to an extent helps trigger conversations around the same.

How do you cope with low phases in your life?

We all have our lows and I am no exception. When I go through low phases I keep a positive approach towards the same and accept it as a part of life. But I never let it linger for long and the very next day I am up on my feet to face the world since we have to keep on moving, no matter what.

Any regret you have in life?

I have this lifelong regret of not being able to bring my parents to Mumbai and make them see my achievements as an actor…they passed away much before that.

How do you keep yourself fit?

I work out six days a week and that includes a lot of cardio, running, strength training and muscle building. I am a vegetarian and a very conscious eater and I start my day with a glass of fresh green juice. I keep a strict watch on what I eat and follow a diet that doesn’t have much gluten or sweets. But there are cheat days too when I allow myself to indulge in some comfort food.

Rajkummar Rao
Rajkummar Rao

Your fashion choices?

I am all for comfort clothing when it comes to daily wear. These days, I am very much into anti-fits and I love many homegrown labels that offer style with comfort. But I also like Indian wear and love bandhgalas and suits.

What are your other upcoming films?

There’s Anubhav Sinha’s socio-political drama Bheed which also stars Bhumi Pednekar and Pankaj Kapur, Vasan Bala’s Netflix original Monica, O My Darling and Raj and DK’s Guns and Gulaab.

Have you ever contemplated doing regional cinema?

I did shoot for Bengali film Ami Saira Banu in  2016. I was playing the role of a transgender in the film but it got stalled after almost 80 per cent of the shoot. I would love to do a Bengali cinema given a chance since we watched and learned about the great filmmakers including Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak and Mrinal Sen during our FTII days.

How are you now balancing marriage and work life?

Balancing life is easy, thanks to the fact that we both are in the same profession and we get to discuss work. We also watch things together, mostly thrillers, docus and at times even mindless content to relax.