Mumbai: Gajraj Rao has been in the film industry for over two decades, but the actor says it was 2018 film Badhaai Ho! that gave him a chance to score some good roles.
Rao made his acting debut in 1994 with Shekhar Kapur’s Bandit Queen, and went on to play supporting parts in films Dil Se, Aks, Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi, Black Friday, Talvar and Rangoon, among others.
Playing a middle-aged man grappling with unexpected parenthood in Badhaai Ho – opposite Neena Gupta, turned out to be the 49-year-old actor’s career-defining project.
Comparing his journey in the movies with the midfielder in a football team, who provide reliable support to the goal-scoring forwards, the actor said the 2018 film got him the long-due mass recognition.
“In a match of football, there are few of them who score the goal like (Lionel) Messi, (David) Beckham, (Diego) Maradona and other players supporting the team. All I can say is before Badhaai Ho, I didn’t get chance to score goal and after this film, I got a chance to score a goal.
“I believe I was getting love from the audience but (after ‘Badhaai Ho’) I was noticed more,” the actor said.
A theatre actor and a successful ad filmmaker, Rao said he has always been careful with his movie choices and an increase in the number of offers has not brought any change in the process. “I have always been conscious while choosing my roles. I always think a lot before choosing my next project, the script and the makers are important factors for me.”
Rao, whose latest release is Kunal Kemmu-led Lootcase, said after boarding a project he tries to imply his real-life observations while creating the character and rely on the writing.
“Whoever I meet in real life, I observe their mannerisms, the way they talk and think. I do a marriage of these observations with my characters. And it makes my job easy as an actor.
“On the script level, there are a lot of things that are crafted and defined. Like in Badhaai Ho and Lootcase my character is very nicely crafted and it makes things easy for an actor.”
The actor added that for his role as a shrewd politician in the latest comedy-drama, directed by debutant Rajesh Krishnan, he drew references from one of his relatives.
Lauded for his pitch-perfect comic timing in back-to-back films like Badhaai Ho, Made in China, and Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan, Rao said he is too new to be scared of getting pigeonholed.
“To get stereotyped one needs 15 to 20 years of time. I have just done two films (in this space). This question should be asked after ten years to me. Let me do this now,” Rao said.
“I am enjoying whatever work is coming my way. It is important to get work. I consider myself blessed that I am receiving good offers,” he said.
Also featuring Ranvir Shorey, Vijay Raaz, Rasika Dugal, the comedy-drama premieres on Disney+Hotstar last week.