Ranjan Raj left everyone floored with his portrayal of Meena in Kota Factory. With his earnest act Raj--who has also starred in movies like Rustom and Bala--proved that he is an actor to look out for.
What set Ranjan Raj apart was the way he seeped into the skin of the character, making Meena appear endearing and not annoying. And perhaps, Raj looked into his own journey of preparing and studying for IIT, to prepare for the role.
In an interview with Digital Commentary, Ranjan Raj talked about his journey from IIT to acting, how close Meena is to his real-life personality, and what drove him to give up engineering for acting.
Raj talked about how, unlike Meena, he is more fond of observing things, rather than reading. But his interest in acting started with the videos he saw on his uncle and father's phones.
Video bahut dekhta tha, bhai, chacha, mama ke mobile mein - Kapil Sharma ke, ya jaise Vijay Raaz ka Run picture se. Hum yeh sab dekh ke bade hue aur mind mein humein yeh sab bahut funny lagta thi, ki arey yeh toh hum bhi kar hi sakte hain. Toh humesha lagta tha ki yeh toh cheez hai... shuru se hi uske taraf thoda toh mind tha.
Raj, who originally hails from Kurtha, Bihar, shared that while growing up he was a fan of Mithun Chakraborthy, Akshay Kumar is his all-time favourite star.
However, his own stint with acting would have never happened if his friends would not have encouraged him. Slowly, he realized, theatre and acting came more naturally to him than engineering. And finally in his sixth year, he dropped out of IIT to pursue acting.
6th year tak ho gaya tha... ki yeh bas hauwa hai. Par abhi jo cheez karne mein maza aa raha hai, better hai woh karte hain. Graduation ho gai toh NSD chale jaenge... but phir seekhne, karne mein itne busy ho gae, graduation bhi durr durr tak dikh nahi rahi thi. Par seekhne karne mein busy tha, iska fayda bhi hua... Kota Factory se pehle hi 7 web series kar chuka tha main, TVF ke hi.
However, while acting was his passion, it was also challenging to manage his family's expectations - especially when everyone had pinned their hopes on him because he was studying in IIT.
Jo soch ke aaye the, ki ghar ki aarthik stithi theek ho jaegi, jo sab dikkatein hain ghar pe theek kardunga...sabse chota, aur sabse zyada padhe-likhe hone ke baad, sabse zyada zimmedaari aa jaati hai. Ki aap engineer ban chuke ho, koi bana nahi ghar mein, koi nikla hi nahi ghar se, ab yeh ek nikla hai toh yeh zindagi humari theek karega. Family ko manane ki zarurat nahi thi, par mujhe hi lagta tha...phir vahi, main khudko convince kar leta hun, ki gharwale situation ko kal agar theek karein, better tareeke se theek karein, toh yehi bhi koi buri baat nahi. Thoda time lagega, par kaam toh main apna achhe se, din by din, theek karunga.
It may have been slow, but his journey has definitely yielded results, and Kota Factory's success has been nothing short of phenomenal. But when he first heard about the show, Raj loved the idea, but wasn't convinced people at large, would relate to the stories.
During the narration, jab Abhishek Yadav narrate kar rahe the, mujhe laga ki yeh aisa nahi ki bas vahi log samjhenge jo Physics, Chemistry samajhte hain? 3rd episode ka monologue mujhe bahut acha laga, kyunki maine relate kia. Lekin logon ko samajh aaega? Initially tha, ki yeh log accept karenge ya nahi karenge. But vahi, uski audience itni zyada thi, ki har kisi ne relate kar lia.
From starting as a junior artist in TVF Pitchers to getting fleeced for a model photoshoot to today, starring as one of the leads on one of the most popular web series, like TVF Kota Factory, Ranjan Raj has surely come a long way. And looking at his success, it's clear, his acting journey has only just begun!
You can see the complete interview here:
All images are screenshots from the interview, unless specified otherwise.