Rajeev Mishra. The name might not ring a bell immediately…however, when one recalls ads for Tata Tetley Tea, Reliance Mobile, and films such as Banaras and Rewind, one begins to attach a face to the name—the name of an actor who is slowly but steadily beginning to carve a special place for himself. In an interview for PlanetBollywood.com, Rajeev shares his experiences, struggles and triumphs in the world of showbiz, his acting techniques and preferences, and much more…
You've done a few ads including ads for Tata Tetley Tea, Reliance Mobile Phones and Titan Watches. You've also appeared in films such as Banaras and Rewind—The Film. Overall, however, you have worked on a limited number of projects—is there any particular reason for this—for example, do you prefer working on a few projects at a time?
Tell us a little bit about your experiences while shooting for Banaras and Rewind…
Shooting for both of these films was an enriching experience for me as an actor. In Banaras, I played the role of a man who is caste biased and has his hand in the drugs business too, and always trying to make things work his way, while in Rewind, I play a blind man who is a member of a gang of thieves and is well versed with the game of Russian roulette! In Rewind, playing a blind man was an experience which told a lot to me about the hidden instincts in a man who cannot see.
Even though you've worked on some great projects, you're still in the initial stages of your career as an actor. You've mentioned online that you want to achieve wider recognition as an actor—how do you think you can achieve this goal?
Yes, I agree with you that I have worked on projects that have got applause and critic and cinegoers admiration, too, and still I’m in a phase that’s called the “initial stage” ! How to put it…I think my initial stage is taking a bit longer to end [laughs]. But, no worries…whatever happens as wished happens for good and what doesn't happen as per wish is still better, as god has best things for you in store…I have to keep working to achieve it. Yes, it gives me an eternal high to say I want a wider recognition—Reason: I want all sections of society to enjoy my work in all the forms I am able to get and perform--It gives a divine feeling when an actor’s performance is felt as his own past or present by the cinegoers…and that gives him a smile, introspection time, happiness in his heart, and that shows on his face, other than getting him entertained. And, to achieve it, I need my focus, dedication, thoughts all for the role and yes, I have immersed myself for it and I wish people who see my past work will believe me.
I can say I am very weak in my own presentation, or say my PR skills are very elementary-that’s the truth. I can sit, and have sat, outside the directors’ office for hours to ask for a role and video test, wherever I am given the chance, I perform-That’s what I know and that’s what I live for. I wish to achieve many more roles with my hard work.
How do you decide to work in a particular Advertisement and/or Bollywood film?
Never just for money, but yes that’s integral as blood needs oxygen. I love mileage, but fuel-age is necessary too to keep the mileage [smiles]. On a serious note, I give my best in any video test and the fact is the role tempts me a lot to perform and to bag it, and for roles that offer me that temptation, I am all set for it .
Did you always want to be an actor—or, is this a career you decided on later on in life?
Acting is ALL I have thought, loved, breathe and live.
Did you do any formal training to prepare yourself for a career in acting?
Formal in a sense I wanted to learn the process of how actors face light and the co-ordination with fellow actor in a scene and to fence off any fear of it. I did a basic in theatre and did plays for about seven years. I thought it was time to extend my work to the target audience I intended from the beginning, and have been working towards it.
There are so many actors/actresses in Bollywood, and there are even more aspiring actors and actresses—what do you think differentiates you from them?
Every one has a natural talent and a level of confidence which varies from person to person. Some are born with a golden spoon, some are already noticed and accepted because of there parents’ star status.
Some work hard and with full dedication with their natural ability and don’t stop when hurdles come, but move forward dealing with it and marching ahead grabbing every opportunity to make their presence felt on a larger scale, defying the standard cliché that is “This man doesn’t fit the bill.”
And, I believe in the latter.
Quite a few films have recently been released which highlight the dark side of Bollywood—what is your take on this?
Every field has its dark side take defence, politics, corporate, to generalize only Indian cinema has it, I am not comfortable. When ambition has no values and ethics, compromise is the best ladder…what is there more to say? But, ultimately, good work prevails.
I'm sure you must have had to face some hurdles when you initially started acting…
Initially, I was discouraged by many about not to think big, but to do whatever I was offered as the kind of face I have, my skin tone, and so on. I was sure even if one scene was offered to me, that should have its flow with the script rather within the script. I will make the impact given the chance, and every part I got to do made my belief more concrete. Whenever I got the chance to meet the director directly, I have given my best to change it into an opportunity and perform.
How do you prepare yourself for a role?
I put myself on with the narration and the script I get from the creative team and director. I work on my role as required by the director in keeping with what he needs from the character, and then I start working towards it-I apply method and instinct, natural feelings and impulse.
What are your dream roles?
To perform every role and with that every role to create a benchmark.
Are there any directors in particular you would like to work with? Any actors/actresses you would really like to work with?
So many directors—Subhash Ghai, Steven Spielberg, Ramgopal Verma, Martin Scorsese, Mani Ratnam, Sudhir Mishra, Mira Nair, director of Life Is Beautiful, director of Momento, director of Love Actually, a few in South India--I love their work--John Woo, and all who believe in make-believe on screen as real. In actors/actresses, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Julia Roberts, Amitabh Bachchan, Rajnikanth, Kamala Hassan, Judy Foster, Kate Winslet, Jim Carrey, Denzel Washington, Bridget Jones, Diary’s lead actress, Kajol, Aamir Khan, Mamoothy, Mohanlal…I admire Khaniyalalji [late], Amrish Puri [late], Pran, Madhubala, Maduhri Dixit. I am also inspired by late Kishore Kumar, Mohammed Rafi, Asha Bhosle, Lata Mangeshkar.
Do you plan on working in television, or are movies your preference?
Both mediums have their audience. Movies are for theatre and can be shown on TV, too. TV is great, too, but serials can’t be shown in theatre as shows. For me, content and medium have equal preferences.
Please tell us a little bit about your forthcoming projects…
I am looking for roles and am open to offers that may not sound exciting, but I will make them exciting with my performance [smiles].
Do you have any advice you would like to share for aspiring actors and actresses?
Believe in yourself and understand what is required from you for the role.
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