Acting Can be learnt in Schools believes Raj Kumar Yadav
[dropcap]I[/dropcap]n a short span of three years, the young actor Raj Kumar Yadav has worked with the directors that a new comer in the industry could only dream of. Be it Dibaker Banerjee’s Love Sex aur Dhoka, with which he also debuted in the Hindi films, Ekta Kapoor’s Ragini MMS, Bejoy Nambiar’s Shaitan, Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs of Wasseypur Part 2, Bedabrata Pain’s Chittagong, Reema Kagti’s Talaash, Hansal Mehta’s Shahid and Abhishek Kapoor’s Kai Po Che!, which is scheduled to release on 22 February this year. He is currently shooting for Vikas Bahl’s film ‘Queen’ in which he is paired opposite Kangana Ranaut. Hailing from Gurgaon (Haryana), the promising actor, Raj Kumar Yadav, always wanted to be an actor and studied acting in Films and Television Institute of India (FTII), the pioneer film institute in India. The actor, on a free-wheeling chat with Pandolin, sheds some light on the passion for his first love i.e acting.
Did you always want to be an actor?
Yes. I was doing theatres in Delhi during my graduation before I enrolled myself in FTII Pune for two years acting course. The acting course in FTII was closed for like 26 years and it restarted in 2004. So, mine was the second batch of acting in FTII. I was very excited to join the institute as then it was the only film institute in our country and all over Asia which offered a course in acting. Lot of film pioneers like Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri, and Jaya Bachchan are passed out from this institute. I learned a lot from here. Where ever I am in the industry today, I give all my credits to the institute.
Despite belonging from the theatre background, what need did you feel to study acting?
Film is a different medium than theatre. I agree that there are lot of actors in the industry who came directly from the theatre background. But I wished to be prepared and equipped myself with all the required skills before I moved to Bombay.
Do you think that education in acting helped you getting your first project? Was there any struggle involved?
Absolutely! Whatever I have learnt in the institute helped me in my auditions and screen tests for Dibaker Banerjee’s film LSD. I had to pass three rounds of auditions.
About struggle, I think it depends. While some people are lucky, there are many who have to struggle. In my case, my struggles started when I was doing theatre in Delhi. For theatre, commuting down to Delhi from Gurgaon, when there was no proper infrastructure built, was kind of struggle to me. I am still struggling with each passing day.
When it comes to acting, I think you should know your craft well. Cinema has changed a lot and the kind of films is being made, there has been increase in demand for actors now. I think if you are good at your work, sooner or later you will get work.
What do you think about acting? Is it an innate talent or can be learnt?
Some people are born talented. But I believe that person who is trained in acting, always ended up being an actor. Acting course does help. It depends on what kind of course you do and from where you are doing it.
One of your films, Hansal Mehta’s ‘Shahid’ has garnered good response in many film festivals in India and abroad. How did you prepare for the role of Shahid Azmi?
Shahid is a biopic. If you google Shahid Azmi, there is nothing available on internet. You will only find very little information or a few pictures on net. So whatever I learnt about the character was through his family, friends and colleagues as I spent quality time with them. Then as an actor, I had to do other observations as well. For example, I went to court and sat there for hours to learn how it works. I had never been to court before, and that was my first time. What I found out is the reality that the court in real life is exactly opposite of what have been shown in films so far. Hansal Mehta wanted to show what actually happens and not how it has been shown. I also read about Indian laws, about courts, lawyers and all other things. It took me months to do research and preparations.
Tell us about your next film Kai Po Che!
It’s based on Chetan Bhagat’s film ‘Three Mistakes of My Life’. It’s a story of three friends Govind, Omi and Ishaan’s journey in Ahmedabad. My character is of Govind Patel, an ordinary Gujarati boy. Whatever happens in their life, that’s the film!
For preparing this role, I had to learn the Gujarati language and its culture. The most difficult part was to learn the Gujarati accent for Hindi language. Dialogues can be crammed but learning the proper accent was indeed a challenge. I met a lot of Gujarati people and friends. I tried to keep my character as real as possible.
Would you like to share any interesting episode that you had on the film’s shoot?
I think Garba dance was very interesting. In Bombay, when I used to watch people dancing Garba, I thought it to be such an easy dance that everyone could do it. But when I had to learn it and go through all the training, I realised it to be a very difficult one.
As an actor, what are the main challenges do you face?
It depends on how challenging the character is. As an actor, I have to be quite prepared to do any part.
What’s your general approach or creative process to get into the skin of the character?
Let me explain you by an example. Suppose If I am doing Kai Po Che! What I know is that the character I play is a Gujarati boy. So I learn the language. Then I see how he looks physically. Costume department helps me to get into his looks. Then I discuss with my director on his vision of my character like what does he think how the character behaves. Then as an actor I put a lot of efforts to understand the character’s background, his education, his relationship with his family or with his friends. Then there are those inner layers, like in the film we also have a cute love story between me and Amrita Puri. That relationship we have to work upon on a different level as it is not a typical love story. So that’s the process involved.
Also, on the shoot, there are lot of things which come absolute to me as an actor which looks natural to my character.
I don’t rehearse too much with my lines and with my scenes as I don’t want to make the whole process look too mechanical.
How was your experience working with the director Abhishek Kapoor?
He is very passionate about his work. He gave me a lot of freedom and showed immense faith on me. He gave me a space which an actor always need. I think being an actor himself; he understands the psyche of an actor very much.
What has been the major learning for you while working in films?
That acting in films is the only thing I can do. I can’t do any anything else apart from acting.
Is there any message you would like to give to young aspiring actors?
Work hard, keep working in your craft and hone your skills. It’s important to be honest to your work and don’t lose hope.
Is there any director you dream to work with?
Lot of good directors, I say! Moreover, I want to be part of good stories. I am sure with a good story comes a good director.
How do you measure your success? What’s your goal?
I think my success hasn’t started yet. My goal is to keep doing films, especially the kind of films I want to do.