Actor Rajpal Yadav reveals how Charlie Chaplin's 1940 film The Great Dictator inspired him
David Dhawan's remake of his 1995 film Coolie No 1 featuring his son Varun Dhawan and actress Sara Ali Khan in the lead roles may have been a disastrous attempt. But some of the director’s most dependable actors, who are part of most of his films, delivered their performances as always, with a punch! One of them is Rajpal Yadav who played the role of Pintu (played by Shakti Kapoor in the original) in the remake. “I played one of the key roles in Coolie No 1, which was released on Amazon Prime Video and I think I was fortunate to be part of the film,” says the actor.
Rajpal, who debuted with the film Dil Kya Kare in 1999, has come a long way in the Hindi film industry. He is among those actors who have become an integral part of Bollywood films for their supporting roles. From playing comic characters and heroes’ sidekicks to even antagonists, he fits into any role with ease. “A few years after my debut, I got to play a small role with my idol, Amitabh Bachchan ji, in Hum Kisi Se Kam Nahin (2002). It was one of my biggest achievements,” he says. For Rajpal, who comes from a small village in UP, where, according to him, even getting electricity was a distant dream, acting with superstar Big B was a personal milestone. He recollects how he decided to become an actor after he watched Bachchan’s films, which were screened once a week in his village on a makeshift screen during the ’80s.
However, he says, his biggest inspiration has been Charlie Chaplin. “When I got admission at the Bharatendu Academy of Dramatic Arts in Lucknow, I remember watching the 1940 film The Great Dictator. I didn’t understand a single word of English but I still watched the film and read everything I could about Charlie Chaplin. Since then, I considered him the God of creativity. He was, is and always will be my creative teacher,” reveals Rajpal. This perhaps explains how the actor nails every role he plays. Whether it was in Hungama as Raja/ Tulsidas Khan, Mujhse Shaadi Karogi as Paul/Raj Purohit Jyotish or in Bhool Bhulaiyaa as Chote Pandit, the actor has delivered memorable performances.
Every remarkable artiste needs a director who can identify and give him a chance to perform and Rajpal credits three directors in the Indian film industry with his success. “There is this trio in my life whom I consider my tridev (three gods). They are Ram Gopal Varma, Priyadarshan and David Dhawan. These filmmakers have always cast me in significant roles. These directors are like my backbone in this industry,” he shares. When asked what he thinks of Coolie No1, Rajpal defends his director calling him a scientist who has a unique approach to filmmaking. “David ji is a great editor, and is like a scientist who experiments and creates his own language of cinema. He wants to entertain a family within two hours, to help them de-stress so that they are then able to face the world and its challenges. It’s this honesty and his hard work that inspire me a lot,” says the actor. Rajpal will next be seen in Hungama 2, Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 and Bole Chudiyaan.