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Q&A | Raj Kumar Yadav

A trained actor from the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune, Gurgaon boy Raj Kumar Yadav was destined to be an actor. After watching Agneepath (1990) for the first time, he became Vijay Dinanath Chavan for a week. The week he watched Hum (1991), he channelled Amitabh Bachchan’s Tiger/Shekhar and beat up his brother. He wanted the girls in his college to call him Raj, after Shah Rukh Khan’s character in Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995). Now he is a different character in every movie he is in.

In three years, from his debut as Adarsh in Dibakar Banerjee’s Love, Sex Aur Dhokha to playing Govind in the forthcoming Kai Po Che directed by Abhishek Kapoor, Yadav has made his mark. Movie insiders say his role in the forthcoming Shahid, based on the life of lawyer and human rights activist Shahid Azmi, who was assassinated in 2010 in Mumbai, is staggering. Edited excerpts from an interview:

You have managed to play eight very different characters in your eight films so far.

I usually pick films where the story moves me and then I look at the director. I have been fortunate enough to work with Dibakar Banerjee, Anurag Kashyap, Hansal Mehta, Reema Kagti and Abhishek Kapoor. And I have learnt that you need to be careful what you choose because typecasting happens very quickly in our industry. If I get a script like Shahid, I would jump at it again. But if I got a bad script from a big production house, I would not do it.

What attracted you to ‘Kai Po Che’?

Govind is a great character to explore. It’s a great story and has Abhishek Kapoor and UTV behind it. Although I am nothing like Govind, I felt connected to him. He’s only after money, he wants to do everything on his own terms, he has grey shades and he’s dating his best friend’s sister.

You were the “senior" actor among your ‘Kai Po Che’ co-stars, Amit Sadh and Sushant Singh Rajput.

I don’t think the number of films counts as much as your craft. Yes, in the sense of how many films I have done I guess so, but the others did not behave like I was their senior. We all bonded off set and on set. There was no insecurity or jealousy.

What are your future projects?

There’s Shahid, Mira Nair’s short film and Queen with Kangna Ranaut. I have not signed anything else on after that.

Is it hard to stay grounded when you see billboards with your face all over the city?

Honestly, I am very neutral about every film. I don’t expect to be recognized. I also do not worry about the outcome of my films. My wish is to be the greatest actor, but that actor who nobody knows as a person or recognizes off screen. I dream about that. I think of Sachin Tendulkar—the biggest Indian celebrity ever. If he can be so humble then who are we?

Kai Po Che releases in theatres on 22 February.

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