“Kai Po Che” actor Rajkummar Rao has cleared the air about a recent casting controversy that he has been ousted from upcoming film “NH 10” on the insistence of actress and co-producer Anushka Sharma.
The 25-year-old “Band Baaja Baaraat” actress is co-producing the action thriller, about a road trip gone wrong, with Phantom Films.
Rao, 29, says the decision to back off from the much-delayed project was mutual as he had already committed to another film, and that he has no issues with Sharma.
“I never signed ‘NH 10’ officially. I was supposed to do it. Then it got delayed. Then I moved on to other films like ‘Kai Po Che’ and ‘Shahid.’ Then I started working on another film. I can’t do two films at the same time. I prefer doing one film at a time,” he said on the sidelines of the International Film Festival of India.
“So it was a mutual decision. I share a very good relation with the team. I think Anushka is also a very sensible girl. She is a really good actor and I don’t think she would do anything like that,” he added.
According to media reports, Sharma decided to replace Rao with actor Neil Bhoopalam, who is currently a part of Anil Kapoor’s “24.”
Rao’s last three films — “Talaash,” “Kai Po Che” and “Shahid” — have been hugely successful. In “Shahid,” directed by Hansal Mehta, the actor received rave reviews for his sensitive and accurate portrayal of lawyer and human rights activist Shahid Azmi, who was assassinated in 2010 in Mumbai.
When asked if the success of the film has sunk in yet, Rao said, “Yes, it has in a way. We have gotten a great response. Everyone who has seen the film has loved it. I think it is a great feeling. But now it’s all over, and I have moved on to another film. I have undertaken a new journey.”
“Shahid’s” success has also paved the way for a second collaboration between Rao and Mehta. The duo will work together in “City of Lights” which is being produced by Fox Star Studios and filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt.
“We have started working on that. ‘City of Lights’ is an official remake of 2013 British Filipino film ‘Metro Manila.’ We are just adapting it to the Indian context. It’s a great script. It’s a human drama about a couple,” he said.
Rao had a rather unconventional Bollywood debut with Dibakar Banerjee’s anthology film “Love, Sex Aur Dhoka” in 2010. But the actor has done pretty well for himself in the last three years.
Rao says he does not bother much about the praise that is coming his way and wants to rather focus on building his career on his achievements.
“It feels great. I am really happy and thankful to God that my career is going in the correct direction. It is very flattering. But I feel it’s too early to begin to enjoy it. I still have a long way to go. The start is really good. I just want to concentrate and not get carried away by all the laurels that are coming my way.
“I want to be honest to my craft. It gets a little difficult dealing with the fame and adulation. But you always have a choice. You either get carried away, or not get affected and continue to do your work,” Rao said.
The actor has recently changed his surname from Yadav to Rao and also added an extra “m” to his name.
“I always wanted to change it, and anyway Yadav or Rao are the same surname, so it does not matter much. My mother asked me to put an extra ‘m,’ and she asked me to do a whole lot of things. I told her I can’t do all of that, but only this much. I think she is just being a concerned mom just like how all moms are,” he said.