The very talented and prolific Rajkummar Rao, basking in the surprise success of his new film Stree, says he couldn’t have hoped for a better birthday when he turned 34 on August 31. “It was just my luck that Stree opened on my birthday and became an immediate favourite among filmmakers. The (box-office) numbers are humongous. I feel blessed,” says the affable Rao.
What did he do for his birthday? “I spent it with very close friends and of course (girlfriend) Patralekha. The entire day went into answering messages and calls. I’ve never received so many good wishes on my birthday.”
I remind Rao that the number of birthday greetings is a measure of success. He laughs modestly. “In that case I’d like the numbers to grow. Stree has surprised everyone and now I’m all set to shoot Made In China for Dinesh Vijan who has co-produced Stree .”
Rajkummar describes Made In China as a crazy comedy. “It’s wacky and out-of-the-box. And loads of fun. I know I am choosing roles that are fun to do and fun to watch. The funda is simple. If I don’t enjoy doing a film, I can’t the expect the audience to enjoy watching it.”
Talk veers to girlfriend Patralekha and marriage. “We’ve been together for 7-8 years. We don’t talk about marriage. We don’t see the need. When we do we will get married.” Is it because Rajkummar doesn’t believe in the institution? “Oh no! I do believe in the institution of marriage. And we will get married when we are ready.”
In an industry known for its fickle relationships Raj can boast of long-lasting friendships, not just with Patrelekha but also someone like the filmmaker Hansal Mehta who singles out Rao as “One of the people in my life I can count on. Raj is not a friend, he’s family.”
Recently when Hansal was ill, Rajkummar delayed his shooting for Stree in Madhya Pradesh by a day to be with his friend in Mumbai. Raj is delighted to hear this. “Did Hansal Sir say this? Yes, he is a very close friend. I feel our lives are defined by the people whom we trust and love. We are nothing without them. So if you ask me about my birthday wish, it would be this. Let the people whom I love be with me as I move forward in life.”