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BW Businessworld

‘Passion Is What Drives Bollywood Or Corporate India’

In an interview with BW Businessworld, Rajkummar Rao talks about the films, elections and corporate India

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Rajkummar Rao-starrer Newton is the Indian entry for the Oscars this year. Rao (33) has been constantly experimenting with his roles — be it in Aligarh, Trapped or for his role of Subhash Chandra Bose in Bose: Dead or Alive.  In an interview with Suman K. Jha, Rao talks about the films, elections and corporate India.


Newton is the Indian entry for the best foreign language film at the 90th Academy Awards. What are your thoughts?

When the movie director Amit V. Masurkar told me that we have to shoot for the film in Chhattisgarh, I was a little surprised. It is not often that we shoot films in Chhattisgarh. But after the experience, we were overwhelmed. The people, the surroundings, were fantastic. We got many locals to act in the film. We should get more films shot in the state.

The film is also about Maoism / Naxalism. What are your thoughts about this menace?
I would say the film is about conducting peaceful elections in sensitive zones.

What would you to say to the Election Commission of India that helps conduct peaceful elections in these strife-torn zones?
Hats off to them! They help us conduct the largest peaceful exercise across the world. It is a huge achievement. At the same time, I feel elections are also a responsibility bestowed upon us — we need to go out and vote rather than whining about the outcome the rest of the five-year span about ‘this not happening’ and ‘that proceeding at a slow pace’. We are the biggest stakeholders in the election process.

Bollywood has, of late, been making a lot of socially-relevant films. How did this shift happen?

Yes, it is true that there is a new breed of writers and directors who take pride in making socially relevant films. What’s interesting, and heartening, is that they have been appreciated at the box office as well!

How difficult has it been for you to make a mark in Bollywood, coming as you do from a small town?
I come from Gurgaon, and I am here in tinsel town, living a dream. This has been a dream come true, especially when there are hundreds of youngsters trying to break into the film world everyday. I am blessed to have worked with the best of actors and directors. I am currently working with some interesting names in Bollywood, like Anil Kapoor and Aishwarya Rai. Among various genres, apart from making commercial films, I am also doing a web series. As an actor, satisfaction due to the body of work is very important.

There has been a corporate influence on Bollywood as well. How has it affected its functioning?
Yes true, Bollywood now functions as a corporate entity. There is this whole studio culture. Whether it is production, marketing, PR, or other departments, all are handled separately. This brings more cutting-edge professionalism to the entire exercise. This corporate influence positively affects the entire work culture.

What can corporate India learn from Bollywood?

Whether it is a startup, a business venture or a new film, it is all a function of the risk taking ability. We don’t produce a film unless we take a certain risk about it.

Similarly, for a business venture we need to have the risk taking ability. One common factor encompassing all is passion. When you combine passion and mission with expertise you produce a winning formula. This is true for all such ideas. In business, thus, what is true for Bollywood is true for corporate India as well.