GQ India
The Insider Image Credit: GQ India
The Insider Image Credit: GQ India

The Insider

With unprecedented commercial success and critical acclaim, Rajkummar Rao now occupies a unique position at the very top of the Indian entertainment business. Once the ultimate outsider, this rule-breaking actor is blazing a trail – reflecting the drive and spunk of a new Indian generation

Nidhi Gupta

Rajkummar Rao doesn’t believe in the one-take formula of good acting. “You know how the media goes on about it, it’s become a thing,” he says, more bored than bothered by the concept. “I think you’ve got to do whatever it takes to get it right.” Sitting in an armless chair directly under the blast of the air conditioner, safe from this April afternoon’s bleachy sun, Rao’s calmly listing the things that vex him about, yes, the Hindi film industry – this large, messy world he’s been dying to be a part of for as long as he can remember – and also day-to-day existence in 2019.

He doesn’t like the way all movies are subject to a single formula when promotion cycles begin. He thinks climate change is the most urgent problem we’re facing today (“That video of the starving polar bear...” he trails off, shaking his head). He finds it hard to deal with laziness in his colleagues. He thinks we could all do with a good dose of compassion and a little extra Googling from time to time to find out “what’s really going on”. And he believes that the years ahead are going to be challenging for creators of content to produce something exciting enough to keep the “audience returning to theatres.”

But mostly, Rao’s just really glad about what the “digital boom” is doing for India’s entertainment industry. For instance, “I feel very hap


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