When Raj Kumar signed on for his first Bollywood acting role, the director asked him to lose weight. Kumar was fresh out of film school and determined to make it big, so he started running. And he’s been running for an hour each day since, come rain or shine, even on the notoriously congested roads of Mumbai.
Since his 2010 debut in Dibakar Banerjee’s Love, Sex aur Dhokha, Kumar has worked with some of India’s best known filmmakers but it was his turn as the quiet and industrious sports goods entrepreneur in Kai Po Che this year that got him noticed.
The 29-year-old actor’s next release sees him play the real-life role of lawyer and human rights activist Shahid Azmi who was shot dead in Mumbai in 2010. Azmi had spent a few years in prison under India’s anti-terror laws before studying law to help defend those he said were wrongly accused and jailed on charges of terrorism.
Kumar spoke to Reuters about the film Shahid and why Kai Po Che was a turning point in his career. Excerpts from an interview:
Q: You have been praised for nearly all your roles so far, but we haven’t seen you in too many films. Why is that?
A: (Laughs) Good scripts. Good scripts should come my way. But now, I think you’ll see me in more and more films. After Kai Po Che, the offers started pouring in.