IN GOOD BOOKS

Ra­jkum­mar Rao re­veals how his act­ing has been shaped by the books that he has loved

Hindustan Times - Brunch - - Books - By Zuni Chopra // Photo shot ex­clu­sively for HT Brunch by Subi Sa­muel

H e didn’t shy away from play­ing the non-glam­orous role of a hu­man­rights lawyer in Shahid (2013), the fledg­ling govern­ment clerk who was hell-bent against com­mu­nist rebels in New­ton (2017) or a ho­mo­sex­ual man dur­ing pre-377 In­dia with his film

Ali­garh (2016). A feted and tal­ented Bol­ly­wood ac­tor who also has a love for the writ­ten word, so busy that the word ‘busy’ seems an un­der­state­ment, Ra­jkum­mar Rao, the Na­tional Award-win­ning ac­tor and the poster boy for alt-cin­ema, has still made time to an­swer my burn­ing ques­tions on all things books! He is, in his own words, a vo­ra­cious reader, and he claims that his act­ing has been shaped by the books that he has loved.

Do you re­mem­ber the first book that shaped your iden­tity?

Ra­jkum­mar: Yes, it was Robert De Niro’s bi­og­ra­phy. I wasn’t a vo­ra­cious reader be­fore that but that book gave me a new per­cep­tion to­wards act­ing.

If your house was on fire and you had to save three books, which ones would you choose?

Ra­jkum­mar: The Foun­tain­head by Ayn Rand, The God­fa­ther by Mario Puzo and The Bha­gavad Gita.

“ROBERT DE NIRO’S BI­OG­RA­PHY IS THE BOOK THAT GAVE ME A NEW PER­CEP­TION TO­WARDS ACT­ING”

“WILD SEED BY OC­TAVIA BUT­LER IS THE MOST UN­DER­RATED BOOK”

What fic­tional char­ac­ter do you most iden­tify with?

Ra­jkum­mar: Howard Roark from The Foun­tain­head.

What’s a clas­sic you haven’t read?

Ra­jkum­mar: The Odyssey by Homer.

Name your top three favourite au­thors.

Ra­jkum­mar: Saa­dat Hasan Manto, Ayn Rand and Wal­ter Isaac­son.

What non-fic­tion book would you rec­om­mend?

Ra­jkum­mar: My Au­to­bi­og­ra­phy by Char­lie Chap­lin.

What book that hasn’t been made into a film would you want to see a film adap­ta­tion of ?

Ra­jkum­mar: There are so many amaz­ing sto­ries by Prem­c­hand or Har­is­hankar Par­sai. Those might make good films.

Do you judge peo­ple on the ba­sis of their book choice?

Ra­jkum­mar: No, I don’t judge peo­ple for any­thing.

What’s the most un­der­rated book or book se­ries?

Ra­jkum­mar: Wild Seed by Oc­tavia But­ler.

What’s your favourite read­ing spot?

Ra­jkum­mar: Flights, my van­ity van and my bal­cony. Cof­fee, too, is a great com­pan­ion! [laughs]

Kin­dle or hard copy?

Ra­jkum­mar: Both have their own ad­van­tages, but I am to­tally in love with the smell of a new book.

Which fic­tional char­ac­ter would you like to cos­play as?

Ra­jkum­mar: I know I’m be­ing repet­i­tive, but Howard Roark from The Foun­tain­head.

What’s your favourite book-to­screen adap­ta­tion?

Ra­jkum­mar: The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

Which movie of yours would make the best book?

Ra­jkum­mar There are many, but, to name a few – Shahid (2013), Trapped (2017) and New­ton (2017).

Ra­jkum­mar Rao ap­peared on the cover of HTBrunch on June 10, 2018

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