The bicycle diaries

Actor Rajkummar Rao tells a story he hasn’t shared before

The actor, who plays a journalist in his upcoming film Aligarh, decides to give an interview of a different kind to a journalist

I told actor Rajkummar Rao that I want to do something different with his interview. He thought for a while, paused for a while more, and then said, 
“I will tell you something that I haven’t told any other journalist before.”

I was hooked! Interestingly, Rajkummar Rao plays a journalist in Aligarh and challenged me to give a different treatment to his interview, something no one else has ever done.

A diary entry, perhaps?

Here’s a peek into the late night musings of the actor who recently completed five years in the industry.

He loved it, what do you think?

February 24, 2015
2.17 am
Balcony corner

My film is releasing in two days! It’s the same feeling every single time. Thursday nights are the worst. You wait for the barrage of messages and calls the next morning — the sheer numbers give you an idea of how your work has been received. Brrr.. It’s chilly in Mumbai, feels like a Delhi-kinda night. 
Usually on such Thursday nights, something strange happens to me — I time-travel. I seriously do. My time machine? The old bicycle I used to ride during my ‘struggling days’ in Delhi!

Cut to a not-so-busy Dilli ki sadak

Papa kehte hain’ is playing in my Walkman and I feel like ‘the king of the world’..much like Leonardo Di Caprio felt in Titanic. I bet he loved standing at the edge of the ship with his arms outstretched; he didn’t have to experience the polluted Delhi air after all. ‘What is so special about me?’ My brain can’t stop asking this question. ‘Can you wait?’ my inner voice retorts. This time, emerging from my heart. ‘Payega jo lakshya hai teraa..’, the next song starts playing.

Back to dear diary

When I look back, maybe there was nothing special about me, but then again, maybe there was. I did not know of any other lunatic who would ride a bicycle for almost 70 kilometres, listening to motivational Udit Narayan songs from the 90s on his Walkman, just to attend his evening classes. The reason I applied to DU was simple — theatre and then eventually acting. My mind was made up ever since I saw SRK in DDLJ. I would save up money and buy the same leather jacket, those round shades… Sigh! Those were some days!

I don’t like to ‘glorify’ my days of struggle. It was more like a rite of passage. After DU, I studied at FTII. In my head, I was moving a step closer to my goal. That was the time I opened myself to French cinema and other forms of filmmaking. While Mumbai happened eventually, films did not! However, I took pride in my art and knew I’d get my break. LSD was my golden ticket to B-town. Sometimes it gets difficult to believe that with Aligarh, I complete five years in the industry.

Living off that roadside chai and paying many thousands to the vada pav walas in different corners of the city brewed within me a fervour of some other kind. I would walk the streets as Rajkummar, but I would be playing multiple characters in my head at the same time. Maybe all actors all like that, they inhabit multiple worlds, all at once. Maybe, all dreamers are like that.
Revisiting the dilli ke din has somehow placated the fear of the impending Friday.

So, bring it on. I’m ready and I’m relentless. I will look you in the eye and tell you, here is all my effort, and the efforts of hundred others, condensed in a 2-hour film. We will keep working hard. We will not stop. Like Oscar Wilde said, ‘Pleasure is the only thing one should live for. Nothing ages like happiness.’ You may be my source of happiness Friday morning, but acting is my source of pleasure. You will meet me again within a few months dear Friday morning.

P.S. I still have that bicycle playlist. The song I’m currently listening to? Eye Of The Tiger.

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