The Dark Horse
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Ever since unconventional films started doing well in Bollywood, several actors who are not necessarily star material have started enjoying prominence. One among them is Raj Kumar Yadav, the bad boy from many recent films. First discovered by filmmaker Dibakar Banerjee for his film Love, Sex Aur Dhokha, Yadav found popularity soon after his debut film released. This was followed by Ragini MMS and Gangs of Wasseypur II, after which Yadav seems to be making his mark as a poster boy of alternate cinema in Bollywood. "I don't look at films as offbeat or mainstream. I look at them as good and bad. If I like a script, I take it up," says the actor. Currently, he has Shahid, Vikas Bahl's Queen where he is co-starring with Kangna Ranaut, and Abhishek Kapoor's Kai Po Che! along with Sushant Singh Rajput and Amit Sadh, in the pipeline.
Like most youngsters in India, Yadav too grew up on a daily dose of Bollywood. During his growing up years in Delhi, he made sure he watched enough Bollywood films. "We used to rent video cassettes and watch all possible movies on VCR," recalls Yadav. The actor very often got into role-play mode too. "After watching Agneepath, I would pretend to be Amitabh Bachchan from the film. Similarly, when I watched Baazigar, I behaved like Shah Rukh Khan's character for days," he says.
Yadav's antics were enjoyed by family and friends, and this is what encouraged him to take up theatre and dance in college. "It was my stint in college that encouraged me to take up acting as a profession. I started taking it seriously and hence applied for an acting course at Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) in Pune," says Yadav. His determination paid off and he was selected at the FTII. The time spent there gave him the confidence and moulded him into an actor.
However, in Bollywood, an FTII stamp isn't necessarily a ticket to success. "One has to work hard and struggle a fair bit before your dreams gain shape. I too went around asking for work and gave several auditions. However, I was fortunate that it was during that time that casting directors were coming up in a big way in the industry. It is they who helped me meet the right people," he says.
A meeting with Banerjee was one such chance meeting. LSD also opened several other doors for him because people within and outside the industry noticed his work. "There was a reversal of sorts. Filmmakers have now started approaching me and I get to read scripts," he says with a smile.
Despite the recent good run he has had in the industry, the actor is cautious enough to realise that fortunes change every Friday. "It is not necessary that every film of yours works. So one has to keep trying," he says.