Rajkummar Rao (born 31 August 1984), also known as Rajkumar Yadav, is an Indian actor. He has established a career in Hindi cinema and is the recipient of several awards, including a National Film Award, three Filmfare Awards, and an Asia Pacific Screen Award.
|Born||31 August 1984|
|Other names||Rajkumar Yadav|
|Alma mater||Film and Television Institute of India|
Rao graduated from the University of Delhi and went on to study acting at the Film and Television Institute of India and graduated from there in 2008. He then moved to Mumbai and made his film debut with the experimental anthology film Love Sex Aur Dhokha (2010). After a few brief roles, he had his breakthrough with the drama film Kai Po Che! (2013). He rose to prominence with his portrayal of Shahid Azmi in the critically acclaimed biographical drama Shahid (2013), for which he was awarded the National Film Award for Best Actor and the Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actor.
Rao went on to feature in the successful romantic comedy Queen (2014) and starred in the acclaimed dramas CityLights (2014), Aligarh (2016), and Trapped (2016). The last of these earned him another Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actor. Among his 2017 releases, the romantic comedy Bareilly Ki Barfi and the black comedy Newton were both commercial successes and won him several accolades including the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor for the former and the Asia Pacific Screen Award for Best Actor for the latter. His highest-grossing release came with the horror comedy Stree (2018).
Early life and education
Rajkummar Rao was born as Raj Kumar Yadav in Gurugram, India. He finished his schooling in Gurugram at S.N. Sidheshwar Sr. Sec. School and graduated in Arts from Atma Ram Sanatan Dharma College (ARSD)–University of Delhi. He was simultaneously doing theatre with Kshitij Repertory and Shri Ram Centre (SRC) in Delhi. In 2008, Rajkummar graduated from the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune and shifted to Mumbai for a film career. Rao cites Shah Rukh Khan as his inspiration to act: "If an outsider could make it as big as him, then maybe there was hope for me."
Film debut and early work (2010–2013)
After graduating from FTII, Rao spent the next year visiting studios and meeting casting directors. In 2010, he got his big break when he was cast in Love Sex Aur Dhokha along with actress Nushrat Bharucha, after responding to an ad that mentioned that Dibakar Banerjee was looking for newcomers.
Rao next signed Ekta Kapoor’s Ragini MMS in which he played a negative role. Ragini MMS succeeded, and his performances in both films were appreciated. He also appeared in Bejoy Nambiar's Shaitan. Raja Sen of Rediff, while criticizing the film, singled out his performance as "reliably terrific".
In 2012, Rao performed a series of small, but significant roles in films such as Gangs of Wasseypur – Part 2, Chittagong and Talaash. Anurag Kashyap selected Rao for Gangs Of Wasseypur after watching his performance. For the role of Shamshad Alam, he visited Wasseypur to perfect his character and accent. However, his character's screen time was considerably reduced in the final script. Rao, who was eager to work with Anurag Kashyap, went ahead with the movie anyway. In the critically acclaimed Chittagong, he portrayed the role of freedom fighter Lokenath Bal. In Talaash, he played the role of a junior officer to Aamir Khan's character. Rajeev Masand of CNN-IBN commented: "...it takes Rajkumar Rao just one scene – in which he's merely a spectator with a single line of dialogue – to show what a good actor can bring even to a small part."
Critical recognition and rise to prominence (2013–present)
In 2013, Rao played the role of Govind in the film Kai Po Che!, Abhishek Kapoor's adaptation of Chetan Bhagat's novel The 3 Mistakes of My Life. The movie was a commercial and critical success, and earned praise for the lead performances. Saibal Chatterjee of NDTV remarked: "No praise would be enough for Raj Kumar Rao. Delivering a measured performance as the self-effacing man lost in 'the magic of numbers', he is a consummate scene-stealer." He followed Kai Po Che! with a leading role in the biopic Shahid, based on the life of the slain lawyer and human rights activist Shahid Azmi. It earned praise from the critics with Anupama Chopra writing: "Shahid is Raj Kumar’s triumph. His Shahid has strength, anguish and a controlled anger, but also real charm. His smile lights up the frame. See Shahid for him." The role earned him a National Film Award for Best Actor (shared with Suraj Venjaramoodu for Perariyathavar) and a Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actor.
Rao then starred in the coming-of-age dramedy Queen (2014) opposite Kangana Ranaut. He played Vijay, a man who calls off his wedding with his fiancée. Rao's performance was well received; Saibal Chatterjee wrote that "He brings remarkable restraint to bear upon his interpretation of the disgustingly conservative city slicker who cannot see beyond his nose. Rarely has an object of derision stood his ground with as much firm intent as he does." The film received critical acclaim and was financially successful.
Rao next starred in Hansal Mehta's drama City Lights (2014). In 2015, he appeared alongside Sonam Kapoor and Pulkit Samrat in the romantic comedy Dolly Ki Doli (2015). In April 2015, Rao featured with Emraan Hashmi and Vidya Balan in Hamari Adhuri Kahani. Both Dolly Ki Doli and Hamari Adhuri Kahani were box office flops.
Another critically acclaimed movie, Aligarh, featuring Rao in a supporting role, was released in February 2016 earning him a Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor nomination. He has been honored with life membership of the International Film And Television Club of Asian Academy of Film & Television by Sandeep Marwah.
The actor is known for his appearance and dramatic excellence for his characters in various films. For his 2016 film Trapped, Rao lost 7 kg in 22 days by a controlled and planned diet consisting of one carrot and coffee only. For his performance, Rao won his second Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actor.
For the 2017 Ekta Kapoor-Hansal Mehta web series Bose-Dead/Alive, he gained 11 kg for the role of Subhash Chandra Bose & Omerta. In 2017, Rao starred alongside Kriti Sanon and Ayushmann Khurrana in Bareilly Ki Barfi. The film turned out to be both a critical and a commercial success at the box office. For his performance, Rao won the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor. Also in 2017, he starred in the black-comedy film Newton. Rao received universal acclaim for his performance and won the Asia Pacific Screen Award for Best Actor. He was also nominated for the Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actor.
In 2018, Rao featured alongside Shraddha Kapoor in the horror-comedy film Stree. The film grossed over ₹180 crore (US$25 million) against a budget of ₹23–24 crore and emerged as a commercial success, becoming Rao's highest grossing film. For his performance, Rao won the Screen Award for Best Actor.
In 2019, he played the role of Sahil Mirza, in the romantic comedy-drama film Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga alongside Sonam Kapoor and Anil Kapoor. The film received mostly positive reviews and was a moderate box office success grossing ₹44 crore ($6.2 million) on a budget of ₹30 crore ($4.2 million).
Rao will next appear in the thriller Mental Hai Kya alongside Kangana Ranaut and will also feature in the comedy-drama Made in China opposite Mouni Roy. He has also committed to star alongside Nushrat Bharucha in the social comedy Turram Khan and alongside Fatima Sana Shaikh and Sanya Malhotra in Anurag Basu's as-yet ensemble romantic drama. He has also began filming for another horror comedy Rooh Afza, co-starring Janhvi Kapoor. After finishing Rooh Afza, Rao will then begin filming for Stree 2, a sequel to his popular 2018 horror comedy Stree, co-starring Shraddha Kapoor again. Rao has been signed three films for Dharma Productions.
|Denotes films that have not yet been released|
|2017||Bose: Dead/Alive||Subhas Chandra Bose||ALTBalaji||Web series|||
Awards and nominations
Rao won a star screen award for best actor 2018 for Stree. Rao has been the recipient of a National Film Award for Shahid (2014); three Filmfare Awards: two Best Actor (Critics) for Shahid (2013) and Trapped (2017), Best Supporting Actor for Bareilly Ki Barfi (2017); and an Asia Pacific Screen Award for Newton (2017).
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- Singh, Apurva (12 April 2014). "Mahesh Bhatt: 'Humari Adhuri Kahani' to be completed with Vidya Balan". The Indian Express. Retrieved 17 April 2014.
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- "Raj Kummar Rao survived on daily diet of a carrot and a coffee for next film". Hindustan Times. 3 November 2016. Retrieved 11 September 2017.
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- "Bollywood celebs on a vacation".
- "Kangana Ranaut and Rajkummar Rao wrap up Mental Hai Kya". The Indian Express. 9 July 2018. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
- "Rajkummar Rao Announces The Wrap Of Made In China With This Pic". NDTV.com. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
- Press Trust of India (10 September 2018). "Rajkummar Rao, Hansal Mehta team up for comedy Turram Khan, Nushrat Bharucha is leading lady". Hindustan Times. HT Media. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
- "Bose Dead/Alive: Rajkummar Rao, Makers Hope to Change Entertainment with the Web-Series". News18.