It has been 11 years since Rajkummar Rao made his debut with Love Sex Aur Dhokha. But in the last decade, Rao has constantly pushed the bar with his movie choices and showcased a greater range than most actors do in their lifetime.
And here's solid proof that Rajkummar Rao always gets the assignment:
1. Love Sex Aur Dhokha
A lanky youth, who was the right mixture of swagger and apprehension, fighting between greed and love, Rajkummar Rao left quite the impact as Adarsh.
Rao has even talked about how he almost failed the audition because he misunderstood the brief about what the character should look like.
In this cult classic, Gulshan Devaiah and Shiv Panditt emerged as the 'bad boys we love', and Rajeev Khandelwal solidified his position as a Bollywood hero.
Rajkummar was the dark horse. He didn't immediately catch your attention. Rather, his performance subtly wormed its way into your heart.
Also despite playing a conflicted but corrupt person in his first two films, Rao didn't appear like the quintessential villain - a trick he perhaps borrowed from his 'star' inspiration, Shah Rukh Khan?
3. Gangs of Wasseypur
Fast at the heels of LSD and Shaitaan, came his small but pivotal role as Shamshad Alam in Gangs of Wasseypur – Part 2. Even though his part was cut short in the editing, he still prepared intensely for the role, even traveling to Wasseypur to perfect his accent. No wonder he caught people's attention!
4. Kai Po Che!
With Kai Po Che! Rao emerged as the dependable star, who didn't need the spotlight to shine.
Seriously, how rarely has a character like Govind--a nervous, nerdy miser competing for screen space and attention with a macho hero--managed to win over the audience?
Slaying Bollywood tropes like a pro!
The film that won Rao his first National Filmfare Award, Shahid left both, critics and the audience, thoroughly impressed.
And with each repeat viewing, I uncover a new layer to Rao's performance. Literally, the king of complex roles!
Rajkummar Rao certainly has a knack for picking on-screen boyfriends we just love to hate!
But, even today, my heart does skip a beat every time I hear Vijay say, "Manchow? Queen, maan jao?"
Yes, I am attracted to cheesy pickup lines and red flags!
An underrated gem that didn't get the attention it deserved, CityLights saw Rajkummar give one of his career's most vulnerable and impactful performances.
The fact that this was right after Queen, a movie in which he was the typical egoistic male chauvinist, only adds to the magic of his performance.
8. Dolly Ki Doli
To be perfectly honest I actually enjoyed this film. It was a light-hearted comedy with a quirky storyline. And Rajkummar Rao's hapless lover avatar with a perfect Haryanvi accent was to die for!
From a hapless lover in Dolly to an inquisitive reporter in Aligarh, Rao once again slipped into the skin of two very diverse characters with apparent ease.
Honestly, the range in Rao's filmography is enough to give someone a whiplash!
The film that proved that Rao was a method actor to the core, Trapped saw him undergo intense physical transformation and deliver a groundbreaking performance.
11. Bareilly Ki Barfi
If I could pick only one film to showcase Rao's range, as an actor, I'd pick Bareilly Ki Barfi. Because it is the most obvious example of how he is seemingly effortless in his ability to ace diverse roles - two of which he plays in the same film, that too, in consecutive scenes.
In Bareilly, he nailed physical comedy. And in Newton, he proved that an actor of his caliber can evoke laughter even with the most straight-faced expressions while showcasing a serious issue.
13. Bose: Dead/Alive
Rao made his web series debut by reminding people that he could get into the skin of the character like no one's business.
Even though this was his only collaboration with Hansal Metha that failed to impress the audience, his conviction to the role made him a bonafide star.
The film that allowed us to revisit Rao's comic timing, brilliant as ever, also showed him playing a character so affable and charming, you couldn't help but fall in love.
Though if you thought this was Rao's first stint with horror, then let me remind you of Ragini MMS, the film that was yet another addition to Rao's bad luck as an on-screen boyfriend.
Easily the most colourful character he's played to date, Aloo found a fan in me from the first scene itself.
A special mention to his unbelievable transformation, aided by prosthetics, in Raabta.
What a range!