From Raj Kumar Yadav to Rajkummar Rao, the actor’s journey in hindi films has been inspiring to say the least. Coming from humble beginnings, the actor - who hails from Gurugram - actually started his acting journey with a small cameo appearance in the Ram Gopal Varma film, Rann (2010). Later, he went on to make his feature debut with Love, Sex Aur Dokha, and the rest, as they say, is history. With many award-winning performances, memorable dialogues and impactful screen presence, Rajkummar Rao is a force to reckon with. His last film was Anubhav Sinha’s Bheed, which was first released in theatres and is now available to watch on Netflix.
Rajkummar Rao’s unique ability to blend into his characters, and shed his star quality (which is not something most movie stars can do) makes him a hot favourite across ages. Whether it’s his recent stint in Monica, O My Darling or the many articular interviews he has given, Rao’s public persona is admirable and his filmography even more impressive.
Here’s a list of seven must-watch Rajkummar Rao performances for you to binge-watch over the weekend
Directed by Hansal Mehta, Shahid is a biographical drama that was released in theatres in 2012. Based on the true story of human rights activist and lawyer, Shahid Azmi, the film stars Rajkummar Rao in the titular role, and also stars Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, Prabhleen Sandhu and Baljinder Kaur in supporting roles. The film traces Shahid Azmi’s arduous journey to get justice for the victims of the Mumbai 2006 train bombings and dealing with his identity as a Muslim lawyer staying in Mumbai. The film went on to be hugely critically acclaimed and won Rajkummar Rao a National Award as well.
2. Kai Po Che
Released in 2013, Kai Po Che is based on Chetan Bhagat’s bestselling book The Three Mistakes of My Life. It was quite critically acclaimed on release and declared a success at the box office too. The film revolves around three friends in Ahmedabad who start their own sports academy. As they grow and evolve, political forces and communal hatred test their friendship. The film is based on the real-life events of the Gujarat earthquake and the communal riots that happened in 2002. Rajkummar Rao plays Govind Patel, a modest middle-class young man who has many aspirations. Kai Po Che had its world premiere at the 63rd Berlin Film Festival on 13 February 2013 and it was also the first Indian film to feature in the World Panorama section.
3. Bareilly Ki Barfi
Released in 2017, Bareilly Ki Barfi stars Kriti Sanon, Ayushmann Khurranna and Rajkummar Rao. Although the film has a love triangle at the core of its plot, Rao’s performance was an audience favourite. A quintessential rom-com, the film is set in heartland India and explores Bitti’s (Sanon) rebellion as a young woman trapped in a conservative small town. She falls in love with an author called Pritam Vidrohi, unaware that it is actually a pseudonym being used by one of her best male friends Chirag (Khurranna). Rajkummar Rao’s character Pritam is employed by Chirag to pretend to be the author so that he can orchestrate a meeting with Bitti and test the waters to see what she really wants. But Chirag’s plans go horribly wrong when this situation takes a comedic turn. Rao’s performance is truly the glue that sticks this film together and it was also the most talked about upon release.
Directed by Vikramaditya Motwane, Trapped is a taut survival thriller that explores a man’s difficult journey on being trapped in an abandoned, under-construction high rise in Mumbai. Without any food or water or electricity, 35 storeys above ground level, he struggles to survive for several days. How he escapes this harrowing situation makes for the rest of the story. Interestingly, Trapped was released without an interval, perhaps to allow audiences to truly have an immersive, almost claustrophobic experience while watching the film.
Anurag Basu’s multi-starrer Ludo was released on Netflix during the pandemic in 2020. Starring Abhishek Bachchan, Aditya Roy Kapur, Rajkummar Rao, Pankaj Tripathi, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Sanya Malhotra, Rohit Suresh Saraf, Pearle Maaney among others, Rao’s monologue in the first half of the first where he reads our menu items in a typical tapori style became viral and one of the highlights of the film. His character, Aalu, gets involved in a murder plot along with several other characters and how they converge makes for the rest of the film.