They have become working soulmates having collaborated in four films and director Hansal Mehta says Rajkummar Rao is very special to him as the actor expresses his creative vision on-screen.
Their films - "Shahid", "CityLights" and "Aligarh" - are testimony to the fact that Mehta and Rao inspire, trust and understand each other. Mehta, who has also directed Rao in yet-to-be released "Omerta", feels when an actor and a director embrace their relationship, it shows in their films.
"Rajkummar is very special for me. I think he is the best actor in his generation. Beyond that, Rajkummar is my expression on celluloid. If I am an artiste, then I express because I express through him. Rajkummar has changed my life," Mehta told PTI.
"He came into my office when I was not able to make 'Shahid'. He continues to do that. We keep transforming each other through stories we try to tell." Besides their film collaboration, the duo will also work together on a web-series based on the life of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, which will air on Ekta Kapoor's digital app ALTBalaji.
Mehta also recognises his other collaborators like Manoj Bajpayee with whom he worked in "Aligarh" and the lead of his upcoming "Simran", Kangan Ranaut for helping him express through them.
"Actors are my form of expression. I am blessed to have had worked with actors like Rajkummar, Manoj and Kangana. His films - be it "Shahid", which was a biopic on human rights lawyer Shahid Azmi, who was murdered in 2010 or "Aligarh" about an AMU professor sacked on charges of homosexuality - have given him the title of a path-breaking director.
However, Mehta, who won the National Award for best direction for "Shahid", says he does not take such titles seriously and his sole aim is to seek stories and showcase it through films.
"I don't think of it that way. The moment you start thinking that you are path breaking, you will break your own path. You will destroy your own path. The idea is to constantly seek stories and tell them. One has to constantly evolve, constantly create. There is nothing to do other than that."
Mehta says he does not want to become creatively dead just like filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt and so he does not take himself seriously.
"If I take myself too seriously as creative person then I will be finished. I will become Mahesh Bhatt and I am saying it with respect. That is what he says. He got creatively dead after one point. That's what will happen if I take everything seriously. When I got the National award, Mahesh Bhatt told me, 'It is a golden leash, don't become a prisoner of it."
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