Geetanjali Minhas | September 2, 2019
Rajpal Yadav is acclaimed for playing multidimensional roles. An alumnus of the National School of Drama, he also attended the Bharatendu Academy of Dramatic Arts in Lucknow. He has worked in theatre, television, Bollywood and regional cinema besides working in a Hollywood production. In 2016 he launched his political outfit called Sarv Sambhav Party.
If not an actor what would you have been?
A chhotu in my village.... As a young boy I wanted to be a doctor, I was involved in politics and I was also doing theatre. I think I was born to serve arts. Since my childhood I have been doing everything through the medium of art, be it reciting poetry in school since the age of five or performing in Ramlila. I studied chemistry, went to the Bhartendu Natya Academy and NSD and worked in theatre. I would only be an artist and nothing else.
What kind of roles do you enjoy the most – comedy or serious?
I like challenging and entertaining roles. Be it serious, comic or tragic, art is inspired from real life even though its base is always entertainment. Art has no boundaries or genres. It’s all in our mind. The canvas of art is bigger than all the oceans and you cannot bind art in any form. In these 22 years I never repeated the characters I have played and performed the roles of the same genre differently. This is very challenging. An actor like me breaks away from getting trapped in genres.
How has the film and television industry changed over the years?
Technology has changed everything, it has become like a small village. Today we are able to do interview through a small device. Earlier we had to sit together for hours to discuss scripts but now we can do the same on video call. In the last 10 years social media has had big impact. It has many advantages and few disadvantages. Everybody knows everything, competition has increased and it is easier for a talented person to get work. With almost 900 channels today there are capable people in every department doing their job. Change is important and brings out the best.
How have you faced the challenges that came your way?
Life is a challenge and you have to learn to live it. Since young age I have faced challenges in every stage of my life. Every day is a new beginning and teaches something new. Challenges make life come alive.
Your most memorable experience?
There are so many. In my village fairs there used to be ‘fatta’ talkies, which would run for a month and they showcased 10-20 films. After working in more than 200 films in the last 21-22 years and despite all the struggles, being recognized by people is a beautiful memory in itself. Once after my performance in Birmingham when I was in my car in the parking area an Indian family came running to me, hugged me and said, “We have only seen Charlie Chaplin on screen but you are our own country’s Charlie Chaplin and we are proud of you.” There are many memorable moments which dwarf memories of my struggles.
Governance issues that matter to you the most?
Elections really bother me. We need electoral reforms as the process is very unsettling. We must come out with a system where only four and a half years are committed to work and in the balance six months all types of elections are completed. Under the present system with our prime minister, chief ministers, ministers and MLAs and others down the hierarchy fighting elections year after year through the five-year period, the entire country is disturbed. When are we going to work?
How does the social and political environment in the country impact your creative expression effect?
It is bound to have an effect on you. Be it good or bad, it will affect you. There is no platform bigger than real life and the reel (cinema) too is inspired by reality. The reel captures this as an inspiration or as a spoof which is presented in the form of entertainment to the audience.
Your favorite pastime?
I like to spend as much time as I can with my six-year-old daughter who behaves like a teacher. I observe her and learn many things from her. With her I am reliving my childhood and cherish her company.
At the moment you are busy with…
Shooting and dubbing for “Jako Rakhe Saiyan” and waiting for release of “Time to Dance”. With five to seven films my dates are full till 2020.
Your future plans?
It's difficult to predict future. I try to give my best to whatever I am doing in the present. I aspire to be part of a few dozen projects that I aim to add to my library of work and devote some time to promote my political outfit, Sarva Sambhav Party, through which I want to encourage children between 10 and 18 years to read and understand our Constitution in their own native language.
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