Gajraj Rao's career went to an all time high when he played a middle-aged man who grapples with unexpected parenthood in Badhaai Ho, one of 2018's biggest hits.
Rao has been around for over two decades, doing occasional brief or supporting parts in films like Black Friday, Yahaan and Talvar until Amit Sharma cast him as Mr. Kaushik in Badhaai Ho, for which he has been nominated in Best Actor category at the upcoming News18 REEL Movie Awards.
Rao, who is in the running for the award alongside his close friend and actor Manoj Bajpayee (Gali Guleiyan), said it was an "honour" for him to be nominated alongside the likes of Bajpayee, who has been his supporting pillar of strength during his intial days in acting.
"This initiative is completely different from other awards shows. I remember Manoj ji tweeting about his Gali Guleiyan performance being snubbed by major awards shows, despite getting huge critical and audience acclaim. But I think it is a proud moment for me that I have been nominated alongside him in Best Actor category at this awards," said Rao about his nomination.
Rao was recently in the capital to attend a seminar when he realised he had the adoration of the fans.
"I was sitting in a mall in Vasant Kunj. Suddenly, I saw a sea of fans walk towards me. Some wanted to click photographs with me, others wanted autograph. Some even touched my feet and congrats me on my performance. There was also an elderly couple who came and shook hands with me. It's a surreal feeling that people of all ages liked my work. It happened with me for the first time when strangers were calling my name. They had so much affection and love for me," said Rao.
He also touched on how his life was still the same post Badhaai Ho and why he didn't really have a huge problem constantly going back to his desk at Code Red Films – an ad film production house that he co-founded.
"In show business, everything seems to be some sort of a strategy. But I'm a very unhurried person, who is quite satisfied with whatever roles that have come my way. I have never put the burden of my survival on my acting career otherwise I wouldn't have enjoyed it the way I do right now."
Rao continued, "Honestly, I've always made sure that my family and friends would be part of my success but I never wanted them to suffer because of my struggles, which was why I didn't want to solely depend on acting and decided that I'd also do other things."
Rao wrote dialogues on the 90s TV show Bhanwar. He also worked in a reputed media company for a few years and shot for some advertisements. All this while, he had only one philosophy: "Just keep doing your hard work and don't bother about the outcome."
"It's never been frustrating for me even when I was trying hands at multiple fields. I think it is maybe because I didn't care much about the end result. Honestly, if you ask me, 'What's next?' I'd be saying I don't know because I didn't strategise things then and I don't strategise things now, which is probably why I don't have any PR. I did try it for a week but after that I didn't know what to do with them. I realised that it was not my cup of tea."
Rao signed off, saying his life is like a "train journey" wherein he is open to getting down at any station and trying new things.
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