Rakesh Chaturvedi (Om) is a graduate from the National School of Drama (NSD) and is pursuing a career as an actor, writer and director in Hindi cinema for the last 20 years. So far, he has acted in films such as Kesari, PadMan, Parzania, and many more. He has also written and directed movies like ‘Bolo Raam’ and ‘BHK Bhalla@Halla.Kom’, featuring the veteran, Manoj Pahwa. Rakesh happens to be a theatre veteran for the longest time and in an exclusive chit-chat with IWMBuzz, Rakesh talks about his theatre journey, importance of theatre, working with Akshay Kumar and a lot more. Read to find out –
Tell us a bit about how your theatre journey started and how you look at it?
I wasn’t aware of the word THEATRE in the beginning. I was watching Hindi films studiously and just wanted to become a star on the silver screen by believing that I am a very good actor. In the hopes of seeing myself on the silver screen, I came to Bombay (Mumbai) twice and failed badly, and learnt that no matter how great you feel about your talent and yourself, you have to polish your skill first. And then I heard about actors like Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri, Pankaj Kapur and so on, who are the product of the place called THEATRE. This is why and how I started doing theatre with the Darpan theatre group, Kanpur. I got admission in the National School Of Drama, Delhi, in 1997. After a three-year diploma course in acting from NSD, I shifted to Mumbai in 2000 and was still doing theatre with the Motley theatre group. So I would say that I am lucky enough to have found the right path for my acting career at the right time and gradually understood that theatre is not only the way to get your chance in cinema, but also a great place to work on yourself continuously.
You direct as well as act. Which one do you enjoy more?
Hahaha…. Difficult Question … Ummmm…Both!!
You have worked with someone like Akshay Kumar twice, in movies like PadMan and Kesari. Tell us a bit about your equation with him.
Akshay sir has a huge body of work and he is a star in the true sense. Anyone can end up feeling dwarfed by his stardom. But his humility does the trick. He sends out such good vibes and makes everyone around him comfortable. There was a one-year gap between PadMan and Kesari. Akshay Sir couldn’t recognize me because i was sporting a beard and mustache for my character. We met early morning on the set, shook hands and the shoot began after the formal greetings. I realized Akshay sir was trying to recognize me and after 3-4 hours of the shoot, he suddenly said, “Arre! Inhone toh PadMan me mere saath kaam kiya hai!” And he again shook hands with so much warmth and affection that the moment will always remain in my heart. Bagging roles in good films is something every actor craves for, and both collaborations with Akshay Sir have made me grow as an actor. Just working with him is an “icing on the cake”.
How much of an impact does theatre and stage still have when it comes to young actors getting work in films or web series?
See, It’s very subjective. A huge amount of work is happening these days in cinema, web series and TV. One will get work, but after a certain period of time, he/she will be trapped in monotony and get bored by doing the same thing and start losing interest in work. We can achieve truth and variation in the characters by practicing in theatre on stage only. It makes your work different from others and you yourself enjoy the most, and the audience as well. So it’s up to every person how long he/she wants to sustain in this field.
Among all the plays you have acted in, which is your personal favorite?
Hahahahah…. Difficult question again … I’ve done more than 40 plays, and put my mind, heart and soul into each and every play, so it’s very tough to decide… I would like to say, “ALL”.
Lastly, how do you think theatre can grow in the country in terms of audience and engagement?
In these days, audiences have many choices for entertainment. And theatre is not only a purpose of entertainment. Theatre helps to develop our personality and society in a big way. So it’s needed to make it compulsory in our education and curriculum during school and college time. And in the entertainment field of theatre, producers who make plays need to market their product innovatively, like other platforms are doing.