Rajkummar Rao on his new film 'Badhaai Do': Playing a queer character is a huge responsibility

MumbaiWritten By: Subhash K JhaUpdated: Feb 01, 2022, 06:39 PM IST


Story highlights

The multi-talented Rajkummar  Rao who plays a gay man married to a lesbian in his new film 'Badhaai Do' tells Subhash K Jha why the film is important to him and to the audience, and about being married.

The multi-talented Rajkummar  Rao who plays a gay man married to a lesbian in his new film 'Badhaai Do' tells Subhash K Jha why the film is important to him and to the audience, and about being married.

Raj, how has life changed after marriage to Patralekha?

Nothing much has changed. But yeah, I feel complete and there is a very slight shift on a subconscious level. The love between us is growing every day. It’s such a joy to get married to the person you love and who is also your best friend. We just need everyone’s blessings.

How sensitive is the film 'Badhaai Do' to the LGBTQ community?

 I can say with confidence that our film is very well-researched and made by some very sensitive people. Harshvardhan Kulkarni, our director has made sure that he involves people from the LGBTQ community at every step so that we don't hurt somebody’s sentiments.

But why are there so few sensitive films made in India on the LGBTQ community?

I can’t talk about other people’s work but I’ve been a part of some beautiful films on the LGBTQ community like 'Aligarh' and 'Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga', and 'Badhaai Do' is in that space only just that it’s slightly more entertaining but the message is going to be the same. You will have to wait and watch the film.

In the film, you play a gay man married to a lesbian. What is your personal opinion on such beard marriages?

Playing a queer character is a huge responsibility. For that matter, as an actor, I do my best to ensure that any character I portray on the screen does not propagate further stereotypes in society. Being in a marriage of convenience is a very real and serious issue, people who choose to be in these relationships would have sectarian families or would have to deal with immense bigotry in the societies they live in. The decision, assuming that they even have a choice, and this is also a big leap in some societies, to be in a marriage-like this would be massively driven by the fear of being seriously harmed physically or emotionally. Any life decision, let alone a big one like marriage, that is driven by such fear and pressure can never be good.

How has 'Badhaai Do' changed you as a human being. Do you now understand the queer community better?

Doing this film has made me realise that a simple act of loving who I want and marrying the person I want is unfortunately a privilege when it should actually be a right. As a CIS heterosexual male, in all honestly, I can't say I completely understand what they must be going through, I do acknowledge the privileges I have and anything I say I know I will be coming from that place of privilege and will always have an outsiders view to a very important issue that the LGBTQ community has to face. All I can say is that we have done our best to bring this very serious issue to the masses in the most palatable manner without being disrespectful.

'Badhaai Do' is your third release during the pandemic. How have you managed to remain so busy at times when civilization in recession?

I was just fortunate that the government allowed shoots and were shooting with full precautions and in a controlled bubble that environment. We have to keep working and keep living our lives in this new normal.

How had the pandemic changed your life?

Fortunately, most of us are vaccinated now. Of course, just like many people out there, I am equally scared and anxious about the Pandemic and it is absolutely normal to feel this way. We must take the pandemic seriously and take all the precautions. However, life has to go on, just as all other industries have learnt to adapt in the pandemic times, as must the entertainment industry. The Government has taken all the necessary steps and people incharge in theatres are making sure that they go the extra mile to make all the necessary precautions for everyone’s safety. It's important to remember that even though everything is so uncertain, we must keep living every day to the fullest and be kind to others. Hopefully, Badhaai Do will bring joy to the audience.

How has the pandemic changed your life?

Everything is so uncertain and keep living every day to the fullest and be kind to others. I’ve seen death so closely in this pandemic especially in the second wave all of us have lost someone or the other either in our family, closed circle or in our social circle. All of us were trying to help as many people as we could.

What is your takeaway from the pandemic?

Leave beautiful memories for others to remember you with once you’re gone.

Is the OTT the only way forward for cinema now?

I believe both the OTT and movie-theatre industries will coexist and that’s great for artists and technicians as it will generate much more employment and will serve great content to the audience.

Where do you see yourself a year from now? What are your forthcoming films?

I see myself here only and hopefully will be a part of some wonderful stories and hopefully, this pandemic won’t be there. I have finished 'Monica O My Darling', 'BHEED', 'HIT', and  Raj-DK’s next web series.