Actor Rajkummar Rao could hardly contain his excitement when he spoke to us soon after the 61st National Film Awards were announced on Wednesday.
The 29-year-old Delhi boy won the Best Actor award for his stellar performance in Hansal Mehta’s film, Shahid.
“I always wanted to get a National Award, someday ... but I never thought that I’m actually going to get it this time for Shahid. The feeling is yet to sink in,” says Rao, who essayed the real-life character of human rights activist Shahid Azmi, who was assassinated in 2010.
Rao, who started his career with Dibakar Banerjee’s Love Sex Aur Dhokha in 2010, later went on to act in films such as Shaitan (2011), Gangs Of Wasseypur 2 (2012) and Talaash (2012).
He also got rave reviews for his act in Kai Po Che! last year, and most recently, Queen, where he had a small but impactful role. “I think God has really been kind to me ... my journey so far has been good,” says Rao, who’s known for his natural acting skills.
“I don’t do films for recognition ... I do them for the love of acting. I don’t think too much or even rehearse my roles. I just try to live the character and get under its skin when I’m in front of the camera,” says the Delhi University and FTII graduate, who fell in love with the stage when he was barely 15.
So, what has been his family’s reaction after he won the award? “Oh, they are very excited! I’m sure poore mohalle mein mithaai baant rahein honge,” he laughs. And, how has life changed ever since fame has arrived? “I think I’m the same as I was when I had arrived in Mumbai. Now, people recognise me on the roads, want to take a picture with me ... it feels good,” he says.I always wanted to get a National Award