Gajraj Rao, who plays a pivotal role in Badhaai Ho, says he never wanted to put the burden of survival on his passion of being a performer or a creative person.
“Honestly speaking, I never wanted to struggle for my survival as an actor. I struggled to bag a good role in a good film. I always wanted to be a part of a story that is worth telling, and work along with good talent that offers me a learning experience,” said Rao.
After finishing his formal education in acting from the National School Of Drama, Rao worked in the fields of copywriting and dialogue writing, before becoming an advertising professional.
“I do not want to tell my family that they have to live in poverty because I am struggling as a creative person. At the same time, I do not want to act in a film where my role has nothing new to offer. So in the last 25 years, I found my way to bag a substantial role in films in a much sustainable manner,” he added.
Starting his career in 1994 with the film Bandit Queen, Rao has acted in several films such as Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi, Yahaan, Black Friday, Aamir and Talvar.
The film Badhaai Ho, which is about how an elderly couple tackle an unplanned pregnancy, sees the actor play the hapless husband.
While the film features actors such as Ayushmann Khurrana and Sanya Malhotra, the story mainly revolves around Rao and actress Neena Gupta’s characters.
How does he look at the growing opportunities for actors like Gupta and himself?
“I think such change is coming in cinema because of the lead actors like Ayushmann, Varun Dhawan, Ranbir Kapoor, Ranveer Singh, Rajkummar Rao... They are secure enough to be part of films where they allow writers and directors to give space to the character actors,” he said.
“There is no insecurity on things like the lead actor should have the best dialogues and all the footage in the film. Therefore, though these actors are crowd-pullers in the theatre, actors like us also finding our space,” he added.