Birthday Love: Five Rajkummar Rao performances that won our hearts


Known for his unique selection of films and a realistic portrayal of characters, the epitome of versatility and great acting skills, Rajkummar Rao turns 35 this year. He is certainly one of the most phenomenal actors of this generation, having received critical and commercial success worldwide and winning numerous hearts over the past few years. Most of his films have received great critical appreciation and success. He has been praised for noteworthy performances time and again by critics and fans alike.

Rao is the recipient of one National Award, an Asia Pacific Screen Award and three Filmfare Awards. On the occasion of his birthday, looks at five of his brilliant roles that won over audiences, among similar such others.

Govind Patel in ‘Kai Po Che!’ (2013)
Considered as one such role that brought him to the limelight of the industry, Rajkummar Rao’s remarkable delivery as Govind in Abhishek Kapoor’s hit Indian drama is still remembered among all. Although a supporting actor, his strong onscreen presence was appreciated by audiences at large. He brilliantly portrayed the simplicity, the young charm, the ambitiousness and the different layers of emotions of his character. Be it Govind’s altercations with his friend Ishaan played by Sushant Singh Rajput, his breakdown during Gujarat earthquake and the loss of his property, his romance with Ishaan’s sister, his fear during the communal riots or the painful finale of losing his dear friend, Rao delivered a stellar performance in each scene. It was with this role he received his first Filmfare nomination and showcased that he was here to stay.

Shahid Azmi in ‘Shahid’ (2013)
One of his highly acclaimed performances of all time, Rao played the titular role in Hansal Mehta’s biographical film. Based on the life of lawyer Shahid Azmi, this film gave Rao the platform to showcase his acting prowess and he was certainly successful in his attempt. As the character traveled through the different phases of his life in the film, Rao breathed life to each such shade with perfection. His portrayal of the pathos and intensity of the character was so realistic, that the film very rightly earned him his first National Award as well as Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actor.

Shaurya in ‘Trapped’ (2016)
It is not every day that Bollywood comes up with a survival film. One such rare instance was Vikramaditya Motwane’s 2016 project revolving around the survival of a call centre employee named Shaurya who accidentally locks himself in his new apartment. Keeping the audience hooked to a single story in an enclosed space with a lone character for the entire length of the film is indeed challenging. However, Rao turns out to be a maestro and the role arguably becomes one of his finest deliveries to the day. He owns every single frame of the film and the viewers become a part of the character’s struggle. Rao even underwent a physical transformation to get into the skin of the character. This is a film that he completely carries on his own shoulder and keeps the audience at the edge of their seats throughout. Rao bagged another Filmfare Critics Award as Best Actor for his role.

Newton/Nutan Kumar in ‘Newton’ (2017)
The official Indian entry for the 90th Academy Awards, Newton was a beautifully crafted film that received immense appreciation worldwide. Rao once again proved his mettle onscreen and effortlessly essayed the titular role. Newton Kumar is a visionary-like character in the Naxalite setting of a political drama film. Rao’s character is graced with idealism and a subtle dark comedic undertone. He is as convincing in his role as determined his character is to establish a free and fair voting system. Rao makes the character so believable that the actor and his character merge into one and viewers often fail to mark the difference. Besides the huge critical acclaim, Rao also received the Asia Pacific Screen Award as Best Actor for his part in the film.

Vicky in ‘Stree’ (2018)
One of his most recent works, Rao’s role in this hit horror-comedy shows his versatility as an actor. Unlike most of his major roles, Vicky is not a character laced with any complexity or depth. He is more like the boy-next-door, a simple tailor, a dedicated friend, a little nervous and slightly curious being and someone who falls head over heels in love easily. Rao’s comic timing in the film is brilliant and so is the portrayal of the simplicity and innocence of his character. Amidst the various mysteries in the film, Rao casts his own spell and presents one of his most loved characters to date. wishes Rajkummar Rao a very happy birthday and hopes he continues to play such iconic characters in the forthcoming years!

– Varsha Roy

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