An actor known famously for his comic timing, Rajpal Yadav has been the reason so many of us enjoyed movies like ‘Hungama’, ‘Waqt: The Race Against Time’ and ‘Chup Chup Ke’. Looking back on his journey in films, the 50-year old recalls his initial days of struggle in the industry. “I left no stone unturned to earn a living,” says Yadav in a recent interview with TOI.
“There was a time when I used to complete one project, land at the Mumbai airport, take the other packed suitcase my wife would send from home with fresh clothes and take off for another project from there itself. I once took up an offer to be a part of a film that was an adaptation of Munshi Premchand’s ‘Kafan’, and had to shoot in a village near Lucknow,” he explains.
He recalls that he had to live in a worn-out house, which was covered with dust. “When I used to get up in the morning, I had particles of sand in my nose. It was that bad! Shooting there was very challenging, but I never once complained about anything. I didn’t even tell my family anything about it. This, at a time when even the staff of actors used to get rooms in 3-star hotels. My staff thought I was crazy to accept such an offer,” he sighs.
However, he admits people recognise the name ‘Rajpal Yadav’, which is a great thing for him. “Every day is a new day. I take birth as an actor every day; and after a satisfying day of work, I die happily every night,” he humbly admits.
Speaking of his outlook on life and adversities, he says, “At a very young age, I learned that one should feel alive at every moment. I believe that I am the luckiest actor in Bollywood. I have been working for the last three decades, starting from my school where I used to participate in plays and even dance in weddings. No matter whose wedding it was, I used to close the doors to my house and dance to the music they were playing.
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When probed about how he got his big break, he revealed, “I came to Mumbai in 1997. I used to visit the offices of various directors and production houses, including those of Ram Gopal Varma, Mahesh Bhatt, Shyam Benegal, Govind Nihalani, and Prakash Jha. I was so regular at RGV’s office, that the watchman outside his office had started recognising my face.
He divulged that Ram Gopal Verma was making ‘Shool’ at the time with Manoj Bajpayee. “I, along with Nawazuddin Siddiqui and others, got one scene each in the film. I got the role of a coolie and had a three-line dialogue. Hundreds of people were gathered at the railway station where we were shooting, and I got such a good response that my three-line dialogue became 13-line long,” he laughs.
Speaking of his working relationship with RGV, Rajpal says, “I have done about 17 films with Ram Gopal Varma. Only RGV was brave enough to offer me a lead role in ‘Main Madhuri Dixit Banna Chahti Hoon’. The role he gave me in ‘Jungle’ changed my image in the eyes of the audience. The year when Hrithik Roshan got the Best Actor award for ‘Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai’, I received an award for Best Performance in a Negative Role.”
He explains that he never considered himself a hero. “I have never called myself a ‘hero’ because I have seen real heroes in my life. Right from the person who cleans glass windows in tall buildings, to the one who has carved the perfect tunnel out of a mountain, to the genius Einstein–they all are the real heroes. I am just a ‘zero’ when I compare myself to them,” the veteran actor humbly signs off.
What a legend this man is!