Mumbai: Gajraj Rao credits his middle class upbringing for inspiring some of his most celebrated roles. The actor however has said despite having a rich bank of observations he never feels too self assured. Gajraj Rao currently is one of the sought after actors in the film industry.
Gajraj started with minor roles in acclaimed films like Bandit Queen, Dil Se and Black Friday. However, he gained popularity with The Viral Fever’s series Tech Conversations with Dad in 2018.
The actor got widespread acclaim with the National Award-winning Badhaai Ho! which released the same year. He played the role of the middle aged man Jeetendra Kaushik grappling with unexpected parenthood.
Gajraj said a habit that has stayed with him since his stage play days is feeling nervous before a performance. “I never get overconfident with my work. Even during theatre, I would remember all my lines but just before the show, I’d go to the washroom, wipe my sweat. Even today, I get anxiety a day before the shoot about how things would unfold,” Gajraj said.
Gajraj informed he has worked with co-actors who are so confident that they aren’t affected by ‘anything at all’. However, for him every day on set is ‘like an exam’.
“My script is full of notes, it’s more precious than my life when I’m working. I feel like I am about to step in a jungle and the script is my map,” Gajraj pointed out.
Gajraj was born in Dungarpur, Rajasthan. The actor’s family shifted to Delhi when he was five. He spent most of his life in different railway colonies in the capital, which the actor credits for helping him play his parts.
His ‘Shankar Tripathi’ from this year’s Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan was modelled on two-three different types of ‘extremely stubborn’ people he saw growing up. For Badhaai Ho!, Rao drew inspiration from a travelling ticket examiner in his railway colony.
“Growing up in a middle class environment helps any actor. You have ready samples in the library of your memory. All those references come to you, random instances from your life. I observe a lot. I am into people watching,” he said.
“My fascination for observing people was there even before I had thought of becoming an actor. I am lucky that this ability is there and it’s still alive,” informed Gajraj.
The actor currently stars on Disney+ Hotstar’s latest comedy-drama PariWar.
The six-part series has been produced by Arre Studio and directed by Sagar Bellary. It has an ensemble cast of Gajraj, Ranvir Shorey, Abhishek Banerjee, Yashpal Sharma, Vijay Razz, Nidhi Singh, Sadiya Siddiqui and Anurita Jha.
Gajraj has featured in several web series, including Bang Baaja Baaraat and Tripling. He said his turn on digital medium has been ‘life altering’.
“When I collaborated with TVF, it changed my perception of content. It was an amazing learning. I was lucky that I got connected with the medium at the right time, when things were taking a turn. I didn’t have this condition that I’ll only do films. I was watching the medium and knew things would change and it would become more democratic,” Gajraj said.