Rajpal Yadav may be doing not-so-big roles in films but he made each of them significant and left a mark on the audience. Having started with popular serial Mungeri ke bhai Naurangilal, Yadav has played a string of varied roles in his TV and film career spanning 20 years.
As of now, Rajpal, 46, is readying to play a role in Barefoot Warrior, an Indo-American film based on India’s first football team in 1948 London Olympics and 1950 Football World Cup. India withdrew from the 1950 World Cup for not being allowed to play barefoot. The film is directed by Kavi Raz, who has previously helmed The Black Prince in 2017.
Talking about the shift from comic roles to non-comedy ones, Yadav said, “I have a problem being called a comedian. An actor must never be typecast in one way or the other. I am an actor and can perform any role depending on the requirement of the film. I have done several serious and multi-dimensional roles. The role of a cabbie in Barefoot Warriors is of this kind only.”
He adds, “In India, big stars like Akshay Kumar or Salman Khan do comedy and serious films and we call them great actors. But when it comes to actors of my stature, people rush to typecast me as a comedian without giving a look to all my work. People who call me a comic actor are uneducated. It is their weakness. I feel pity for them.”
Apart from a number of notable and rib-tickling roles in Chup Chup Ke, Garam Masala, Phir Hera Feri and Dhol, the National School of Drama (NSD) passout has proved his mettle in Main Madhuri Dixit Banna Chahti Hoon!, Chandni Bar, Mein Meri Patni Aur wo and Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain.
On stretching his creative boundaries, the Shahjahanpur-born actor remarked, “In the age of internet and social media, the creative world has also come closer. So foreign directors are also showing deep interest in scripts involving Indian and Hindi cinema actors. Kavi Raz contacted me for this role in Barefoot Warriors. Popular American actor Sean Farris is playing the lead role in this sport-based film.”
Rajpal entered Bollywood in the year 2000 and on his contribution to Hindi Cinema, he averred, “2003 was the year my film Main Madhuri Dixit Banna Chahti Hoon! came. It came at a time when either art films or purely commercial ones were being made. I was the part of the experiment where semi-commercial cinema started knocking at our industry’s door. Several such films came afterwards and eventually fresh faces got their due chance in the industry.”
To those who complain about his inconsistent appearances in films, Rajpal said, “I have become little experimental with my roles. I don’t wish to continue doing the same kind of characters and 2018-19 has some different work in store.”
Does his short height come in the way of role experimentation? Rajpal made a point by saying it is not the height of the body that counts, it’s the mental height that takes you forward. “I have gained a 100 feet mental height since my early days. Look at Sachin Tendulkar, Charlie Chaplin or Napoleon Bonaparte for that matter. Did height come to hinder their way to success? Those have decent heights, they seldom have big fights,” said the actor.
He also adds that an actor always has multiple shades of talent and every actor waits for the right script and director to explore their new side of the talent. “Jahan Rajpal Yadav ki baat hai, wo comic Roles bhi top class kar sakte hain or kisi tarah k role bhi top class karskte hain. Kyuki Rajpal Yadav top class actor hain (One thing is certain that Rajpal Yadav can do comic roles as well as any others role in a best way because he is a top class actor),” he quipped.
On being asked about his political ambitions as he had floated a political party, Sarv Samabhav Party, in 2017, and was seen rubbing shoulders with AAP leaders in Delhi, Rajpal said, “I have formed this party not as a career option but for some social work. As an individual, I owe much to society I am part of. Besides, I keep on meeting politicians from all across parties and ideologies. The party is in a nascent stage and gradually we are expanding our roots with already 4-5 lakh people have joined it. We are targeting the 2019 General Elections.”