Raj Rajesh was never attracted to the glamour world. However, destiny had different plans in store for him. Today, Raj is one of the most prominent names in the Odia television industry, with shows like To Aganara Tulasi Mun and Savitri to his credit. He has also been part of a few web series and telefilms and has won quite a few awards for his performances.
Born to Niranjan Panda and Pushpalata Sarangi in Jagatsinghpur, Rajesh was always good at studies. His family shifted base to Bhubaneswar, when he was still a child. However, besides academics, Rajesh was also inclined towards dancing. “I used to watch television and practice dancing. My mother was an Odissi dancer but couldn’t pursue her dreams owing to family obligations. She was the first to spot my talent and got me enrolled in a dance school,” he says.
Raj was only 12 years old and as luck would have it, he got a chance to work with prominent comedian Papu Pom Pom on his show Faltu Katha. “I played his son on the show. That was my first brush with acting. Since then I wanted to become an actor but academics were a priority, as my father wanted me to appear for civil services examinations. I was doing my Plus II from SOA University and my batch mates advised me to try my luck in acting after watching my performance in a few college plays,” says Raj, who had by that time also appeared in a few music videos.
Rajesh’s father was reluctant to see his son as an actor, while her mother always wanted to see her son on screen. Finally, Raj took admission in Biju Patnaik Film and Television Institute. “I completed the course but had to struggle a lot. Those were the most difficult days of my life as I struggled to get work since I had no background in films or television. I had to survive on my pocket money. I would often go to Rabindra Mandap to watch plays of eminent theatre director and actor Ajit Dash. My friends, who were very supportive, suggested that I audition for reality show Mitha Mitha Jodi that was aired on Colors Odia. Fortunately, I was selected and finally I was the runner-up on the show,” says Raj.
Finally, people started recognising him and soon he was offered a role in Srikant Goutam’s film Mitha Mitha. Since then there has been no looking back for the actor. He was cast as the antagonist in To Aganara Tulasi Mun, which was aired on Sarthak Channel. “The show gave me immense popularity and offers started pouring in,” he says.
Raj was seen next in the show Savitri but had to quit midway after he met with an accident during Cyclone Fani. “I was sitting in my living room when the glass door of our balcony broke. Sharp pieces pierced my body and I was severely injured. I regained consciousness after 24 hours and got 25 stitches on my body. However, I am a lot better now,” he says.
Raj, who was seen in the first Odia web series, Saheb Biwi aur Sala, for which he also won the Best Actor award, is gearing up to shoot for the second season of the show. “After my accident, I had to stop shooting for a couple of months but now I have resumed work. I will soon be seen in a telefilm titled, Twist Bala Love Story, which will be aired on Sarthak,” says Raj, adding, “There was a time when many had discouraged me to take up acting. Today, they are appreciating my performances. I feel if there is a will, there is a way. Hard work always pays.”
BRATATI BARAL, OP