Rajat Barmecha is still known as Udon Star, but the film did not prove to be the launchpad he expected. In an interview with Indianexpress.com, the actor says that it was actually the OTT location that gave him financial stability.
As the actor gets ready for the launch of MX Player’s Hey Prabhu Season 2, he speaks about his character Tarun Prabhu, working on the second installment of the series, and his journey in the industry.
Was it easy for you to get into the skin of Tarun Prabhu, a man whose job and life revolve on social media?
I am not from the generation where it was one thing to put my feelings on social media platforms. So, for that person to go into that psyche as if there was a task. But I am attentive to the people around me and I have seen how the new generation behaves.
Today, social media has become a way of validating a person’s existence. What is your opinion on this? How do you handle trolls?
I deal with them (trolls) in my own way. I read the comments but I do not reply. Many times, I come into my Zen mode and give it to them accha kasas gyan.
I am a spontaneous person (on social media). I also reply to those who send me warm messages. I still get lovely messages for Udayan. Three days ago, I received a message from a guy who wrote ‘I love you and your work, and I know you’re straight but I had to tell you.’ I loved it. So, I replied.
Also, I was reading about you and you came to know that you came to Mumbai to pursue jewelery designing. What attracted you to acting?
I always wanted to be an actor. In childhood, we used to have this slambook to fill. In the section where it reads – What do you want to be – I always wrote to an actor without even knowing what it means or what it takes to be an actor.
For me, then, it (being an actor) meant making a lot of money, see myself in the newspaper and let people know me. But after 12th I took up the job of hotel management. Later came to Mumbai to pursue jewelery designing. In fact, I also worked in a diamond factory for 3-4 weeks. But I knew that I was not for that work. Then I decided to give Abhinaya a shot and started auditioning. And I got my first film Udayan.
In 2020, the web-space saw a huge boom. What do you feel about that
In 2020, everything changed – from content to stage to people’s viewing habits. Those who had never seen the OTT platform subscribed and found themselves hooked. This happened because theaters were closed. It also gained so much fame because people realized that OTT at home had fun and comfortable viewing content. However, the cinema has charm and I am sure they will go hand-in-hand.
For a lot there, you are still a Udayan man. Walk down memory lane and tell us what the fame felt?
When we were shooting, no one knew us. People knew Anurag (Kashyap) and Vikramaditya (Motwane), but they were not as popular as they are now. So, these two (Anurag and Vikramaditya) were in the stage of growing back then.
After this, I wanted the film to be released and people to appreciate my work. I did not want anyone to question my skills as an actor. I had not done this before, so I was only feeling (atscreen) at that time.
As of 15 April 2009, we had no idea how big the film would become. This is the day that our film was selected for the Cannes International Film Festival, which became a big thing for everyone, but me because I did not know much about the film festival. I was more excited to go to France. But of course, finally, the film premiered, we got a standing ovation, and that is that when something started sinking in it I made something worth doing. Therefore, it was my feeling to be on the right track.
Was it difficult to get follow-up success?
It is different with different people. My first project came to me in a year and lived in Mumbai for a year and a half. But for me, it was difficult to understand the industry and get future projects because nothing came to me for a few years. During that period, I thought to myself that everyone praised me, they called me a good actor but still I had no work. But luckily, it all worked. Therefore, I am in a sweet place today.
Have you ever thought that you should have debuted when OTT is on the rise and new faces are getting opportunities?
Not at all. Udaan has become this since it arrived in 2010. It could have been a big release now. Things could have been different. But I see the bright side. If it had been released now, I would not have been a part of it. In addition, Udaan was the first Indian film to premiere in Cannes in 17 years. Therefore, it became another milestone for us. So, it will be special.
You were one of the first people to plunge into the web space. How has development been for you? Has OTT given you room to grow as an actor?
The biggest thing the web gave me was financial stability. I’m just getting on the web. This was never a plan. I did not know. I did a show in 2015, produced by Anand Tiwari. He called me for a cameo. Therefore, I played the role. I had no expectation from it. But since then I have not looked back.
I have seen a huge growth in the web space. In the beginning, people differentiated between OTT and theaters. It is seen below. But now it is not so. The production value has also doubled. There has also been a massive change on the set. Now, a series is as big as a movie. There is no difference.
Rajat Ka O Prabhu Season 2 will stream on MX Player from 26 March.