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'Playing a queer is a huge responsibility'

By SUBHASH K JHA
January 31, 2022 12:32 IST
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'Doing Badhaai Do made me realise that a simple act of loving and marrying the person I want is, unfortunately, a privilege when it should be a right.'

IMAGE: Rajkummar Rao and Bhumi Pednekar. Photograph: Kind courtesy Rajkummar Rao/Instagram

Badhaai Do is an important film, not just for Rajkummar Rao, but also for the story it tells.

The actor plays a gay man married to a lesbian, played by Bhumi Pednekar.

"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," Rajkummar tells Subhash K Jha.

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 everyday.

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 involved people from the LGBTQ community at every step so that we don't hurt somebody's sentiments.

IMAGE: Rajkummar Rao and Bhumi Pednekar in Badhaai Do.

Why are such few sensitive films made in India on the LGBTQ community?

I can't talk about other people's workm but I've been a part of some beautiful films on the LGBTQ community like Aligarh and Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga.

Badhaai Do is in that space, only that it's more entertaining, but the message is the same.

In the film, you play a gay man married to a lesbian. What is your personal opinion on such 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 screen does not propagate 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 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.

IMAGE: Rajkummar Rao and Bhumi Pednekar in Badhaai Do.

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

Doing this film has made me realise that a simple act of loving and marrying the person I want is, unfortunately, a privilege when it should be a right.

As a 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 will be coming from that place of privilege.

We 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 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 time when civilisation in in recession?

I was just fortunate that the government has allowed shoots.

We were shooting with full precautions and in a controlled bubble.

We have to keep working and keep living our lives in this new normal.

 

IMAGE: Rajkummar Rao and Bhumi Pednekar in Badhaai Do.

How has 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 normal to feel this way.

We must take the pandemic seriously and take all the precautions.

But life has to go on.

Just like the other industries have learnt to adapt in the pandemic times, so must the entertainment industry.

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.

Photograph: Kind courtesy Rajkummar Rao/Instagram

Is the OTT the only way forward for cinema now?

I believe the OTT and movie theatre industries will co-exist and that's great for artists and technicians, as it will generate more employment and 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, a part of some wonderful stories.

Hopefully, this pandemic won't be there.

I have finished Monica O My Darling, Bheed, HIT, and Raj-DK's Web series.

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SUBHASH K JHA