The 'rockstar, Raja Sahib' Randeep Hooda can't stop praising

  • Sweta Kaushal, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Nov 05, 2014 17:18 IST

Actor Randeep Hooda, the macho star, will try a different stroke soon. Hooda plays the painter Raja Ravi Verma in Rang Rasiya that hits theatres this Friday (November 7).

Raja Ravi Varma was a painter known mainly for his portraits of Hindu gods and goddesses. Also known as Raja sahib, he often painted scenes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata. Varma is said to be the pioneer of modern art in India and was the first one to depict Hindu gods and goddesses in human forms.

In a candid chat with Hindustan Times, Randeep Hooda claimed that Rang Rasiya and Highway are two films he has enjoyed most working on, but added that Highway was depressing for him as an actor. "I did Rang Rasiya when I had done only two films so I enjoyed doing it the most. I could live the character fully because it was shot in one schedule, like Highway. I enjoyed Highway too, but that was a depressing film for me as an actor," Randeep said. "This (character he plays in Rang Rasiya) is far more free and charming," Randeep playfully added, hinting at the sensous scenes that most of his films have but Highway did not.

Filmmaker Ketan Mehta's Rang Rasiya was in the cans for five years before it managed to get approval from the censors. Why did Randeep decide to take up a "non-commercial, arty" film early in his career? It was because of "rockstar" Ravi Varma. "There was this man who was such a rockstar that Indian government could not handle his fan mail and they had to put up a separate post office for his mail. The man also gave us the sari as we know it and the way it is draped today -- very dignified and sexy way of dressing," Randeep said.

After making him read the film's script, Mehta showed Randeep some of the paintings of Raja Ravi Varma. Randeep said he was "aghast" when he realised that he was being asked to play a man whose works are worshipped at his own house. "I was sold on Ketan Mehta, but this fact was the icing on the cake."

Watch: Randeep Hooda in conversation with HT

"Ketan is one of the most original India voices when it comes to filmmaking. His Mirch Masala (1987) is one of my two favourite films, the other being JP Dutta's Ghulami (1985)," the actor added.

Randeep, who rarely interacts with his co-stars on the sets, claims that even the character that he plays in Rang Rasiya taught him a vital life lesson, one that changed the way he chose his films. "Raja sahib (painter Raja Ravi Varma) had said that the deepest desire of every artist is to get across to as many people as possible. That was the day when I decided I am not going to be a niche actor anymore and branched out to Bhatt films and other totally commercial potboilers like Kick. Niche is something which we put upon ourselves...I want to have a mass reach."

Randeep will also be essaying the role of the infamous killer Charles Shobhraj in Prawaal Raman's directorial venture Main Aur Charles. Denying reports that Main Aur Charles is a biopic on Shobhraj, Randeep said, "Main Aur Charles is not a biopic, even this (Rang Rasiya) is based on a novel (by Ranjit Desai) and not on his life. Main Aur Charles is based on a chargesheet given to us by Amod Kant, the investigating officer of the 1986 Tihar jail-break where a man and a couple of other people walked out of the maximum security prison in India -- just walked out! It's about that one incident -- how he did it and why he did it." Charles Shobhraj is a serial killer who killed 12 women and is currently serving his term in a Nepal jail.

Talking about his theatre ventures, Randeep said, "I am the only actor who's successful in both films and theatres, of my age."

Moving on from his professional to personal life, Randeep said that relationships "require nurturing, time and building". "And I am guilty of being present where I am (being a busy actor). So, it's not possible for me right now," the actor said. "The person you are involved with has to have as involving a life; none of the two should be left wanting the other one's time. I don't even have time to read or write," he added.

Four personal takes:

Childhood crush

"Mumtaaz and Zeenat Amaan were my favourite," said Randeep.

Fav hangout places in Delhi

The actor said, "Home or a friends' place and hotel rooms are my favourite hangout places for now. But before I came to the industry, Priya's and Chanakyapuri were my favourite places. I used to study in DPS RK Puram and we used to bunk school and go to Priya cinemas. And (smiles) Gurgaon thekas were the favourite spots for hanging out after 8."

Fav hangout places in Mumbai

"With Bombay it was always about work. The only place I enjoy is the race course, with my horses. That's my time away from everything human," said the actor who owns the polo team Royal Roosters.

Qualities you want in a life partner

"The person should be understanding and have a life of their own. She shouldn't be too skinny. And as mad as I am, actually someone who's not as mad so that there's a balance," the actor said.

Randeep Hooda recently visited the national capital for a special screening of his next film Rang Rasiya. The screening was held to collect funds for spreading awareness about eye donations.

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