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Bollywood Bookshelf:  Rajkummar Rao gets booked

The Trapped actor reveals how his acting has been shaped by the books that he has loved

brunch Updated: Nov 12, 2018 12:19 IST
Zuni Chopra
Zuni Chopra
Hindustan Times
rajkummar rao,bollywood bookshelf,Zuni Chopra

He didn’t shy away from playing the non-glamorous role of a human-rights lawyer in Shahid (2013), the fledgling government clerk who was hell-bent against communist rebels in Newton (2017) or a journalist in the film Aligarh (2016).

A feted and talented Bollywood actor who also has a love for the written word, so busy that the word ‘busy’ seems an understatement, Rajkummar Rao, the National Award-winning actor and the poster boy for alt-cinema, has still made time to answer my burning questions on all things books! He is, in his own words, a voracious reader, and he claims that his acting has been shaped by the books that he has loved.

Do you remember the first book that shaped your identity?

Rajkummar: Yes, it was Robert De Niro’s biography. I wasn’t a voracious reader before that but that book gave me a new perception towards acting.

If your house was on fire and you had to save three books, which ones would you choose?

Rajkummar: The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, The Godfather by Mario Puzo and The Bhagavad Gita.

What fictional character do you most identify with?

Rajkummar: Howard Roark from The Fountainhead.

“Wild Seed by Octavia Butler is the most underrated book”

What’s a classic you haven’t read?

Rajkummar: The Odyssey by Homer.

Name your top three favourite authors.

Rajkummar: Saadat Hasan Manto, Ayn Rand and Walter Isaacson.

What non-fiction book would you recommend?

Rajkummar: My Autobiography by Charlie Chaplin.

Books on Rajkummar Rao’s mind

What book that hasn’t been made into a film would you want to see a film adaptation of?

Rajkummar: There are so many amazing stories by Premchand or Harishankar Parsai. Those might make good films.

Do you judge people on the basis of their book choice?

Rajkummar: No, I don’t judge people for anything.

What’s the most underrated book or book series?

Rajkummar: Wild Seed by Octavia Butler.

What’s your favourite reading spot?

Rajkummar: Flights, my vanity van and my balcony. Coffee, too, is a great companion! [laughs]

Kindle or hard copy?

Rajkummar: Both have their own advantages, but I am totally in love with the smell of a new book.

“Robert De Niro’s biography is the book that gave me a new perception towards acting”

Which fictional character would you like to cosplay as?

Rajkummar: I know I’m being repetitive, but Howard Roark from The Fountainhead.

What’s your favourite book-to-screen adaptation?

Rajkummar: The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

Which movie of yours would make the best book?

Rajkummar There are many, but, to name a few – Shahid (2013), Trapped (2017) and Newton (2017).

(The author is a 17-year-old girl from Mumbai who has written the novels The House That Spoke and The Island Of The Day Before. She is a regular contributor to HT Brunch)

From HT Brunch, November 11, 2018

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First Published: Nov 10, 2018 22:39 IST