Before playing a role in Shekhar Kapur’s Bandit Queen in 1994, actor Gajraj Rao had to do odd jobs like working at a tailoring and stationery shop. While mentioning this, Rao in a conversation reveals that he even wrote for Hindustan Times back in 1989, something that many are still not aware of. He interviewed iconic personalities like Mehmood, Utpal Dutt and filmmaker Yash Chopra during his stint.
“(Life mein) Dhakke bahut jyada khaye hai mene. I didn’t have a well-planned life because ghar ki financial situations badi amazing nahi thi. Not everything was in our hands. So these jobs have taught me a lot. I always say this bohot badi mushkil waali zindagi thi but I had the fire in me that I want to do something and give a good life to my family,” Rao shares as he opens up about his life before the acting career.
Originally hailing from Delhi, Rao used to often visit Mumbai to find work, before his acting career got the speed. Recalling an incident where he merely had six rupees in his pockets, Rao opens his heart: “Before shifting to Mumbai, I visited the city to find work. I was staying at my friend’s place for a month and was writing a script. That time, paise mere khatam ho gaye the. I went from Andheri to Worli to narrate that script and they rejected my script. Meri jab mein kul mila ke 5-6 rupaye the. I didn’t know what to do. Should I take a local train to go back home in those six rupees or should I eat something. Mujhe pure umeed thi ki meri script approve ho jayegi and I will get an advance. Wo jo thana… us din meri aankhon mein paani aagaya ki main karunga kya?”
Rao adds how he took 500 from his friend to go back to Delhi. “I told him everything and he gave me 500 rupees. It was a big amount back then. Sharmindagi bhi ho rahi thi mujhe ki ye situation aagayi hai meri, mujhe ye sab karna padra hai. But it was an important learning that I shouldn’t follow someone’s promises. Because the producer who called me said chinta mat karo, even if the script doesn’t work… he didn’t stick to his words,” the Badhaai Ho actor shares.
The actor who will soon make his teleplay debut with Akarsh Khurrana’s Gunehgaar is extremely content and grateful of his journey. “Even when I used to get smaller parts, I used to see that there are more talented actors than me who had no work at all, while I was getting work. I decided long back ago that I wanted to keep myself financially sound. Because I came from a not so great life due to my financial circumstances, kheech taan ke ghar chalte the. Also, aapki jo struggle hai aapki nahi hoti, aapke pariwar ki bhi hoti hai. I decided that acting ka shauk tab karo jab jeb mein paise ho, udhar na lena pade,” he concludes.