Raj Singh Chaudhary is responsible for the making Anurag Kashaypâ€™s Gulaal. It was his story idea that inspired Anurag Kashyap to make a hard hitting film on. The film has now opened to great reviews and audience response is multiplying with every show. The soft spoken newcomer, who plays the main protagonist in Gulaal in a free wheeling chat, shares with us his journey and his resilient wait for seeing his debut film as a main lead release.
Raj was studying Software Engineering in Bangalore when he was suggested by friends to try out modeling. He got his portfolio done and entered the Mr. Graviera contest and also came fourth at the Gladrags Manhunt contest. â€œI did a few modeling assignments after that for brands like Allen Solly and Van Heusen, but these were more for time pass for earning some extra money during college. After I finished my engineering I started a company with two of my other friends and in one yearâ€™s time I realized they have been cheating me completely. I went back to Kolkate where my parents were settled. That time I was juggling between starting my own company or take up the admission for a MBA course that I had got in the US. Just that time around a Kolkata based filmmaker Tapan Jha selected me for a Hindi-English film. But since it was taking time to take off, Jha suggested me to go to Mumbai and do a workshop on acting.â€ he tells us.
â€œAfter coming to Mumbai, I realized here the norm is that if you have to become an actor you have to take dance, fight, horse ridding classes which is okay but as two-three years pass by one gets completely lost here as there was no one here to properly guide a newcomer. It was during these times that I wrote a story on my college hostel days on ragging and what inspired me to write this story was Satya. I always wanted to write something as real as stark as Satya was. Pankaj Saraswat who had acted in Anurag Kashyapâ€™s Paanch introduced me to him. I narrated my story to Anurag and he told me he would get back to me on it. He wanted my story to have a backdrop and it was decided as Rajasthan. Few months later he was back after translating my amateurish attempt at writing into a completely mind blowing script which is Gulaal. He even selected me for a role in it. Gulaal that time was being produced by Jhamu Sughand but then financial problems erupted for the film and the shooting got stalled. Had Gulaal released back then, it would have been Anuragâ€™s second film. During that waiting period Anurag took me up as his assistant for Black Friday and I played a small part in it. Later he used my short story to make the script of No Smoking for which I assisted him as well.â€ says Raj.
Finally then Gulaal got the finances it needed and it took off. In the meantime Raj acted in Sushil Rajpalâ€™s Mehmaanjee which set to release soon and is based on the theme of groom abduction which still prevails in interiors of Bihar. He also bagged an ensemble cast film Meridian Lines which deals with the Karma theme. It stars Irrfan Khan, Soha Ali Khan and Abhay Deol. Also on the cards is Waiting Room thatâ€™s set in a quaint railway station waiting room.
Talking about Gulaal, Raj says, â€œThe film is set in Rajasthan exploring the dynamics of royalty vis-Ã -vis the democratic system. Sectionalism today has set everywhere in a big way and the film is the true reflection of where our nation stands today.
I am playing a Rajput prince of the erstwhile fictional kingdom of Rajpur, who stakes claim to his legacy. The film is about India and I am confident the youth will identify with it. Whoever has seen the film has said that it is Anuragâ€™s best film so far.â€
Raj considers working under Anurag both as an actor and as an assistant, an enriching experience. â€œI have grown as an actor working with him. He has been like a strong pillar for me and that helped me in my trying times.â€ says Raj.
â€œIt is wonderful time for someone like me to be in films right now what with lots of good work happening around; directors open to experimenting and the increased level in acceptance of diverse subjects.
Raj is keen on doing films that have a perfectly blend the commercial with the artistic. â€œBut right now I am hardly in a position to dictate terms. It all depends on how Gulaal does.â€ he admits candidly before signing off.