Bollywood actor Rajkummar Rao, who is currently basking in the success of his recently released streaming movie ‘Monica, O My Darling’, recently recollected an incident where the mother of slain lawyer Shahid Azmi gave him a pen as a token of respect and was told by her that the actor reminded of her son.
It is a very special film for him. The 2013 film ‘Shahid’, which marked the start of a long association between Rajkummar and director Hansal Mehta, is a biopic based on the life of lawyer and human rights activist Shahid Azmi, who was assassinated in 2010.
Walking down the memory lane, the actor said, “I remember when Shahid’s mother came to meet us during the initial days of the shoot, and she just kept looking at me because I reminded her of ‘Shahid’, her son, and then she asked for a pen, and she gave me a pen. She had put that pen in my pocket and said to me, keep this pen because Shahid always used to carry a pen, and that was so emotional for me.”
Speaking of the significance of the film ‘Shahid’, Rajkummar Rao said, “‘Shahid’ is certainly one of the most special films of my career. It has given me so many things and I’m not just speaking about the accolades I received for my performance, but meeting Hansal Mehta Sir, who’s more like a family now. The knowledge and sensitivity with which one approaches a biopic. ‘Shahid’ being my first biopic, I learned a lot from the film.”
He also mentioned in his chat with IMDb that their collective passion to tell the story of Azmi acted as a fuel for the film and they were able to pull it off on a shoe-string budget, “How to play a real-life person on screen is a different kind of challenge altogether. It was a small budget film, but all we had was passion and the fire to tell a story with utmost sincerity, and that’s what we were aiming for.”
He further spoke about going guerrilla with the film’s shooting, “We were mostly guerrilla shooting in Mumbai. I would just walk into the local trains and talk to real people, and we would look for montages. In fact, there are so many real locations with real people, and they had no idea that we were filming. All these little things made it a lot of fun for me to shoot the film. Of course, while it was a lot of fun shooting the film, we also had to do a lot of preps.”
“We just can’t thank our stars enough that we got to be a part of this beautiful story and this beautiful film. It gave me and Hansal Sir our first National Award, my first Filmfare award and so many more accolades, so it will always remain very, very special to me. What I learned from ‘Shahid’ is we don’t really need a lot of money to make a good film. All you need is a good story, a good heart, a good maker, and a lot of passion to tell that story sincerely. It’s films like ‘Shahid’ that keep me going as an actor. This is the true meaning of cinema for me,” the actor concluded.