What's the fun in doing conventional things, asks Rajkummar Rao (IANS Interview)

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New Delhi : With a filmography boasting of titles like "Shahid", "Newton", "Trapped", "Shaitan", "Kai Po Che!" and "Queen", actor Rajkummar Rao, who has carved a niche for himself in just eight years in Hindi filmdom, says he enjoys being an unconventional hero in Bollywood.

"What's the fun in doing conventional things? I would rather be known as someone who is unconventional. I like being unconventional. I like doing things which are different. That's what I like... It gives me a boost as an actor," Rajkummar told IANS.

Having worked with some of Indian cinema's finest filmmakers like Hansal Mehta, Vikramaditya Motwane and Amit V. Masurkar, Rajkummar says he does not work under pressure.

"I don't take pressure. I can't really work under pressure. I do one film at a time and I try to live in that character and in the moment. I am not a futuristic person who thinks what is going to happen after five years. And I don't live in the past. All my energy is channelised into what's happening today," he said.

Rajkummar is currently riding high on the success of his latest entertainer "Stree", a horror comedy.

Over the years, from starring in intense films like "Shahid", "Trapped" and "Citylights", Rajkummar has pivoted in light-hearted comedies like "Bareilly Ki Barfi", "Behen Hogi Teri" and "Stree".

What's making him shift from intense films to light-hearted cinema?

"There is no reason behind it. It is just that I got the 'Bareilly Ki Barfi' script and I really liked it, and I thought I should do it. People accepted it. It was great... the response I got for playing Pritam Vidrohi had me thinking, 'Why not? Let me explore this genre as well'.

"People know me for doing intense parts and something which is socially relevant. But I want to keep exploring," he said.

Does he feel the Hindi film industry is working towards building an ecosystem of healthy co-existence of all kinds of genres?

"Yes, definitely. I think it started (about the time) I entered the industry in 2010. There was Dibaker Bannerjee, Anurag Kashyap, Vishal Bhardwaj, Imtiaz Ali... Hansal Mehta also came... I think the shift had already started by the time I came and, of course, it has grown from there," he said.

Rajkummar described 2017 as a year instrumental in bringing about a great change in the Hindi film industry.

"How content-driven cinema worked so well... Yeah, the shift is definitely happening... It is such a good change and it is the kind of change I would like to see so that we just go to watch a film and not put them into brackets -- that this is an art film or commercial movie. People go for stories now," he said.

After the overwhelming response to "Stree", Rajkummar has a gamut of films in his kitty like "Love Sonia", "Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aesa Laga", "Made In China", "Mental Hai Kya" and "Imli".

(Durga Chakravarty can be contacted at durga.c@ians.in)