Rajpal Yadav

Rajpal Yadav with Martin Sheen in “Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain,” opening in India Dec. 5.

New Delhi — Actor Rajpal Yadav says his role in the upcoming film “Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain,” a drama set amid the Bhopal gas disaster that occurred in 1984, is a tribute to the victims of the tragedy.

The 43-year-old National School of Drama graduate, mostly known for his comic roles in Bollywood, plays the character of a rickshaw driver around whom the whole story revolves.

"This film is my tribute to the victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy. I am representing one of them in the film. It’s one of the dreadful tragedies in world history and as severe as the Titanic massacre. Revisiting the past with the film was a horrific experience for me," said Yadav.

The makers are also planning to hold a special screening of the film in Bhopal Dec. 3, two days ahead of its official release in Indian theaters Dec. 5.

"We are planning to do a premiere in Bhopal on the day the disaster will complete 30 years. We think that everybody should know how the chemical leak in Union Carbide led to the biggest manmade industrial disaster in history that killed over 5000 innocent people," Yadav said.

“Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain” is directed by London-based Indian director Ravi Kumar, who did extensive research before helming the project. The film also stars Hollywood actors Martin Sheen, Kal Penn and Mischa Barton besides Indian artists Tannishtha Chatterjee and Yadav.

Yadav said he was not the first choice for the role but when he bagged the offer, it was not a tough job for him.

"This film marks my trilogy in showing various facets of the common man after ‘Main Madhuri Dixit Banna Chahti Hoon’ and ‘Main Meri Patni Aur Woh.’ In these three films, you will get three different psychologies of the common man. ‘Main Madhuri...’ and ‘Main Meri Patni...’ were the films which Ravi watched of mine and finalized me from 12 actors," he said.

The “Bhool Bhulaiyaa” actor feels lucky that he will be able to break free of his funnyman image in the industry through this film.

"I feel an actor is an entertainer first, then a performer. When somebody offers you a role which you might not have done for a long time, then it becomes a challenge for you. I did play a troubled common man during my NSD days, but it is the first time that I am dealing with such a subject again," he said.

Yadav said sharing screen space with Sheen was a learning experience for him.

"He (Sheen) is a wonderful actor. He is a thorough gentleman, and I got to learn so much from him. He is super energetic, too," Yadav said.

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