Actor Rajkummar Rao lost his mother while he was in the midst of shooting Newton, a political black comedy which has been locked as India’s official entry for the foreign language film category at Oscars. He says the blessings of his “guiding star” are taking him places.
“Whatever good is happening with Newton is because of my mom’s blessings. I really believe in that,” Rajkummar told IANS.
The Drishyam Films movie, produced by Manish Mundra and directed by Amit V Masurkar, features the National Award-winning actor as Nutan Kumar aka Newton, a rookie but sincere government clerk who is sent on election duty to a Naxal-controlled town in the conflict-ridden jungles of Chhattisgarh state in India.
Newton had a world premiere at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival, where it won the Art Cinema award in the Forum segment. It also bagged a jury prize for Best Film at the Hong Kong International Film Festival.
Rajkummar said: “Winning in Berlinale, in Hong Kong and then to get such an amazing response, reviews and now to be India’s official entry for Oscars… My mother is right up there and keeping a check on me. Her blessings are always going to be with me, I know.”
“I absolutely believe she’s my guiding star,” added the actor, who was shooting for Newton when he received the news of his mother’s death in March last year.
Hoping that Newton goes further in the Oscar race, and eventually wins, Rajkummar said it stands out because it’s a very “Indian film”.
“I’m happy people saw that Indianness in Newton. It has a global appeal and it’s so universal in nature, but still so rooted and grounded (in India),” said the actor, who debuted in Hindi filmdom with Love Sex Aur Dhokha, and has since won critical acclaim for movies like Shahid, Citylights, Aligarh and Trapped.
His last release before Newton was Bareilly Ki Barfi, which gave the audiences and critics a chance to realise Rajkummar’s range as an actor as they got to see him in a completely different avatar than his previous outings.
“My process of choosing scripts remains the same. Of whatever I read and whatever excites me is what I will continue to take up,” said Rajkummar, who was born and raised in Gurugram, and studied acting at the Film and Television Institute of India in Pune.
Some critics have gone to the extent of hailing him as the Naseeruddin Shah of current times.
Laughing out at the comparison, the actor humbly said: “Naseer sir is one of the finest actors of our country. We have only one Naseeruddin Shah and we are very proud of him.”