Rajkummar Rao

Rajkummar Rao (born 31 August 1984[1]), also known as Rajkumar Yadav, is an Indian actor.[2][3] He has established a career in Hindi cinema and is the recipient of several awards, including a National Film Award, three Filmfare Awards, and an Asia Pacific Screen Award.

Rajkummar Rao
Rao at the 2017 Berlinale premiere of Newton
Born (1984-08-31) 31 August 1984
Gurugram, India
Other namesRajkumar Yadav
Alma materFilm and Television Institute of India
Years active2010–present
Partner(s)Patralekha Paul
AwardsFull list

Rao graduated from the University of Delhi and went on to study acting at the Film and Television Institute of India and graduated from there in 2008. He then moved to Mumbai and made his film debut with the experimental anthology film Love Sex Aur Dhokha (2010). After a few brief roles, he had his breakthrough with the drama film Kai Po Che! (2013). He rose to prominence with his portrayal of Shahid Azmi in the critically acclaimed biographical drama Shahid (2013), for which he was awarded the National Film Award for Best Actor and the Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actor.[4]

Rao went on to feature in the successful romantic comedy Queen (2014) and starred in the acclaimed dramas CityLights (2014), Aligarh (2016), and Trapped (2016). The last of these earned him another Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actor. Among his 2017 releases, the romantic comedy Bareilly Ki Barfi and the black comedy Newton were both commercial successes and won him several accolades including the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor for the former and the Asia Pacific Screen Award for Best Actor for the latter. His highest-grossing release came with the horror comedy Stree (2018).

Early life and education

Rajkummar Rao was born as Raj Kumar Yadav in Gurugram, India.[5] He graduated Delhi University and was simultaneously doing theatre with Kshitij Repertory and Shri Ram Centre in Delhi.[6] In 2008, Rajkummar graduated from the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune and shifted to Mumbai for a film career.[7] Rao cites Shah Rukh Khan as his inspiration to act: "If an outsider could make it as big as him, then maybe there was hope for me."[8]


2010–12: Debut and early roles

After graduating from FTII, Rao spent 2009 visiting studios and meeting casting directors. After responding to an ad that mentioned Dibakar Banerjee was looking for newcomers for his film Love Sex Aur Dhokha (2010),[7][9] he auditioned for the film and was finalised. The film consisted of newcomers and three stories, with Rao appearing in the second story opposite Nushrat Bharucha and Neha Chauhan, playing Adarsh, a supermarket supervisor who is in love with Chauhan's character. However, the film failed at the box office, collecting a total of 97.5 million (US$1.4 million).

The following year, Rao played the main antagonist in Pawan Kriplani's directorial debut Ragini MMS (2011), opposite Kainaz Motivala. His next film release was Bejoy Nambiar's crime thriller Shaitan (2011), in which he portrayed a slimy cop.[10] Both his 2011 releases were failures, but his performance in the latter was positively reviewed, with Raja Sen of Rediff.com writing that his performance was "reliably terrified".

In 2012, Rao played supporting roles in three films, the first of which was Anurag Kashyap's crime drama Gangs of Wasseypur – Part 2, a follow-up to Kashyap's crime drama Gangs of Wasseypur – Part 1 which was also released in 2012. In preparation for his role as a businessman, Rao visited Wasseypur to perfect his character and accent. Upon release, the film received positive reactions from critics. With a gross revenue of over 960 million (US$14 million), it was Rao's first commercial success.[7] He next starred in the biographical film Chittagong. The film starred Manoj Bajpayee in the lead role and Rao portrayed a freedom fighter, Lokenath Bal, but the film was not a box office success. Rao's final release of 2012 was Reema Kagti's psychological thriller Talaash: The Answer Lies Within, co-starring Aamir Khan, Rani Mukerji, Kareena Kapoor, and Nawazuddin Siddiqui. His role as Devrath Kulkarni, a junior police officer, was praised by critics, with Rajeev Masand of CNN-IBN commenting that "...it takes Rajkumar Rao just one scene – in which he's merely a spectator with a single line of dialogue – to show what a good actor can bring even to a small part."[11] Talaash grossed 1.74 billion (US$25 million) worldwide, becoming one of Rao's highest-grossing releases.

2013–15: Breakthrough and career fluctuations

2013 was a critically and commercially successful film period in Rao's career, as he starred in two successful productionsAbhishek Kapoor's male buddy film Kai Po Che! and Hansal Mehta's biographical drama Shahid. The former, co-starring Sushant Singh Rajput, Amit Sadh, and Amrita Puri, was an adaptation of Chetan Bhagat's novel The 3 Mistakes of My Life and narrated the story of three friends who want to start their own sports shop and academy. Along with the story of three friends, the film also narrated about the 2001 Gujarat Earthquake and the Godhra train burning.[12] For his performance, Rao received praise as well his first Best Supporting Actor nomination at Filmfare. Shahid, based on the life of a slain lawyer and human rights activist, Shahid Azmi (essayed by Rao in the film), earned him both national and international recognization from critics, with Anupama Chopra writing: "Shahid is Rajkummar Rao's triumph. His Shahid has strength, anguish and a controlled anger, but also real charm. His smile lights up the frame. See Shahid for him."[13] For his performance, Rao won many awards, including the National Film Award for Best Actor and the Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actor.[14][15]

In 2014, Rao appeared in Vikas Bahl's coming-of-age comedy-drama Queen, about the story of a naive girl who embarks on her honeymoon after her fiancé calls off their wedding. Kangana Ranaut was cast as Rani, the girl, and Rao received positive reviews for his portrayal of Vijay, the fiancé. Saibal Chatterjee wrote that "Rajkummar Rao brings remarkable restraint to bear upon his interpretation of the disgustingly conservative city slicker who cannot see beyond his nose. Rarely has an object of derision stood his ground with as much firm intent as he does." With a worldwide gross of over 1 billion (US$14 million), Queen emerged as a box office hit. Rao received a Screen Award for Best Supporting Actor nomination for his performance. Later in 2014, he reteamed with Hansal Mehta for the drama CityLights. The film co-starred his girlfriend Patralekha Paul, and received favourable reviews, but proved to be a box office failure. However, Rao received positive reactions for his part.

Rao next collaborated with debutant director Abhishek Dogra for the romantic comedy Dolly Ki Doli (2015), co-starring Sonam Kapoor, Varun Sharma, and Pulkit Samrat. His second release that year was Mohit Suri's romantic drama Hamari Adhuri Kahani, alongside Vidya Balan and Emraan Hashmi. His role was of Hari Prasad, an abusive man who mistreats his wife. Both Dolly Ki Doli and Hamari Adhuri Kahani were box office flops.

2016present: Critical and commercial success

The string of commercially unsuccessful films ended with Rao's next releasethe drama Aligarh (2016)which reunited him with director Hansal Mehta and actor Manoj Bajpayee. Set in the city of Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, it was the biopic of Ramchandra Siras (essayed by Bajpayee in the film), an Indian author who later becomes a professor at the Aligarh Muslim University. The film received positive comments and was a financial success. Rao's performance as Deepu Sebastian, a journalist, was also well appreciated, and he received a second Best Supporting Actor nomination at Filmfare. Later that year, he starred opposite Geetanjali Thapa in Vikramaditya Motwane's survival drama Trapped, portraying Shaurya, a call centre employee who gets trapped in his apartment room without food, water, and electricity. In preparation for this role, Rao lost 7 kg in 22 days by a controlled and planned diet consisting of one carrot and coffee only.[16] Although the film was a box office disappointment, his performance met with critical praise, winning Rao his second Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actor.

After starting 2017 with a special appearance in Dinesh Vijan's directorial debut Raabta, Rao appeared in four films, the first of which was Ajay K. Pannalal's directorial debut Behen Hogi Teri, co-starring Shruti Haasan. It failed to do well at the worldwide box office. His next role was in Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari's romantic comedy Bareilly Ki Barfi. The film, co-starring Ayushmann Khurrana and Kriti Sanon, was a critical and commercial success, grossing 600 million (US$8.7 million) worldwide, and Rao's performance as Pritam Vidrohi, an author and a salesman at a saree store, won him praise as well as a Best Supporting Actor award at Filmfare.

The black comedy Newton, about the story of the titular protagonist, followed. Rao starred as the titular person, and the film was premiered at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival before 7 months of its theatrical release. The film, as well as his performance, received universal critical acclaim from critics. Commercially, the film proved to be a box office success with earnings of 540 million (US$7.8 million) on a budget of 90 million (US$1.3 million). It also earned him several awards and nominations for his performance, including a Asia Pacific Screen Award for Best Performance by an Actor and another nomination for the Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actor. Rao's fourth and final release of 2017 was the romantic comedy Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana opposite Kriti Kharbanda. His role was of Satyendra Mishra, an IAS officer.

In 2018, Rao featured alongside Shraddha Kapoor in the horror-comedy film Stree. The film grossed over ₹180 crore (US$25 million) against a budget of ₹23–24 crore and emerged as a commercial success, becoming Rao's highest-grossing film. For his performance, Rao won the Screen Award for Best Actor.

In 2019, he played the role of Sahil Mirza, in the romantic comedy-drama film Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga alongside Sonam Kapoor and Anil Kapoor. In his second release, Rao appeared in the thriller Judgementall Hai Kya alongside Kangana Ranaut.[17]

He will feature in the comedy-drama Made in China opposite Mouni Roy. He has also committed to star alongside Nushrat Bharucha in the social comedy Turram Khan and alongside Fatima Sana Shaikh and Sanya Malhotra in Anurag Basu's as-yet untitled ensemble romantic drama. He has begun filming for another horror comedy Roohi Afza, co-starring Janhvi Kapoor. After finishing Roohi Afza, Rao will begin filming for Stree 2, a sequel to his popular 2018 horror comedy Stree, co-starring Shraddha Kapoor again. Rao has been signed for three films by Dharma Productions.[18]

Personal life

Rajkummar has been in a relationship with actress Patralekha Paul since 2010.[19]



Denotes films that have not yet been released
Title Year Role Director Notes
Rann 2010News ReaderRam Gopal Verma
Love Sex Aur Dhokha 2010AdarshDibakar Banerjee
Ragini MMS 2011UdayPawan Kripalani
Shaitan 2011Malwankar PintyaBejoy Nambiar
Gangs of Wasseypur – Part 2 2012Shamshad AlamAnurag Kashyap
Chittagong 2012Lokenath BalBedabrata Pain
Talaash 2012Devrath Kulkarni/DevReema Kagti
Kai Po Che! 2013 Govind PatelAbhishek KapoorNominated– Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor
Boyss Toh Boyss Hain 2013Amit Vats
D-Day 2013Moin (voice)Nikhil AdvaniCameo appearance
Shahid 2013Shahid AzmiHansal MehtaNational Film Award for Best Actor

Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actor

A New Love Ishtory 2013News ReporterJohn Matthew Matthancameo appearance
Queen 2014VijayVikas Bahl
CityLights 2014Deepak SinghHansal Mehta
Bombay Mirror 2014Short film
Dolly Ki Doli 2015Sonu SherawatAbhishek Dogra
Hamari Adhuri Kahani 2015Hari PrasadMohit Suri
Aligarh 2016Deepu SebastianHansal MehtaNominated Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor
Trapped 2016ShauryaVikramaditya MotwaneFilmfare Critics Award for Best Actor
Raabta 2017MuwaqqitDinesh VijanCameo appearance
Behen Hogi Teri 2017Shiv Kumar Nautiyal (Gattu)Ajay K Pannalal
Bareilly Ki Barfi 2017Pritam VidrohiAshwiny Iyer TiwariFilmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor
Newton 2017Newton KumarAmit V. MasurkarAsia Pacific Screen Award for Best Performance by an Actor

Nominated– Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actor

Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana 2017IAS Satyendra MishraRatnaa Sinha
Omerta 2018Ahmed Omar Saeed SheikhHansal Mehta
Fanney Khan 2018AdhirAtul Manjrekar
Stree 2018VickyAmar KaushikNominated Filmfare Award for Best Actor
Love Sonia 2018ManishDavid Womark
5 Weddings 2018Harbhajan SinghNamrata Singh Gujral
Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga 2019Sahil MirzaShelly Chopra Dhar
Judgementall Hai Kya 2019KeshavPrakash Kovelamudi
Made in China 2019Raghuvir MehtaMikhil Musale
Chhalaang 2020Turram Khan/TurruHansal MehtaFilming[20]
Roohi Afza 2020Ravi ChaubeyHardik MehtaFilming[21]


Rao made his television debut in 2017 with the web series Bose: Dead/Alive, that was produced by Ekta Kapoor and Hansal Mehta. In preparation for the role of freedom fighter Subhash Chandra Bose, he gained 11 kg weight.

Year Title Role Network Notes Ref.
2017Bose: Dead/AliveSubhas Chandra BoseALTBalajiWeb series[22]
2013 Yeh Hai Aashiqui Mayak's friend Bindass Season 1 episode 9

Awards and nominations

Rao won a star screen award for best actor 2018 for Stree. Rao has been the recipient of a National Film Award for Shahid (2014); three Filmfare Awards: two Best Actor (Critics) for Shahid (2013) and Trapped (2017), Best Supporting Actor for Bareilly Ki Barfi (2017); and an Asia Pacific Screen Award for Newton (2017).


  1. Kukreja, Monica (31 August 2017). "Happy birthday Rajkummar Rao: Actor recalls best gift; an army uniform his mom got him". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  2. "Rajkumar Yadav is now Rajkummar Rao". NDTV. Retrieved 20 November 2013.
  3. "A look back at the box office performance of Omerta actor Rajkummar Rao's last five films".
  4. "61st National Film Awards For 2013" (PDF). Directorate of Film Festivals. Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (India). 16 April 2014. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 April 2014. Retrieved 16 April 2014.
  5. Jhunjhunwala, Udita (16 February 2013). "Raj Kumar : Making of an actor". Mint. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
  6. Amrisha (4 June 2014). "Interesting Facts About Raj Kumar Rao-Acting Bug". Filmibeat. Greynium Information Technologies. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  7. ""I still don't get car parking in my society" – Raj Kumar Yadav". Filmfare. 12 June 2013. Retrieved 12 June 2013.
  8. Verma, Anurag (8 August 2018). "I Once Spoke to SRK's Posters': Rajkummar Rao's Bollywood Journey is Truly Inspiring". CNN-News18. Network18 Group. Retrieved 8 August 2018.
  9. Jagannathan, Sahithya (18 June 2011). "'I would love to be born as Marlon Brando'". Tehelka Magazine, Vol 8, Issue 24. Archived from the original on 12 March 2012. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  10. "Shaitan is more SprayTan than Satan". Rediff. Retrieved 10 June 2011.
  11. "'Talaash' review". CNN-IBN. Retrieved 8 December 2012.
  12. "Movie review: Kai Po Che!". NDTV. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
  13. "Movie Review: Shahid by Anupama Chopra". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
  14. "Filmfare Awards 2014: The complete list of winners". IBNLive. Retrieved 25 January 2014.
  15. "Heart slowed down when I heard that I won National Award: Rajkumar Rao". Firstpost. 16 April 2014. Retrieved 16 April 2014.
  16. "Raj Kummar Rao survived on daily diet of a carrot and a coffee for next film". Hindustan Times. 3 November 2016. Retrieved 11 September 2017.
  17. ""Judgemental Hai Kya is quirky!"". Kovid Gupta Films. 2019. Retrieved 25 June 2019.
  18. "Rajkummar Rao signs 3 films deal with Karan Johar for Rs 24 crore?". IB Times.
  19. "Bollywood celebs on a vacation".
  20. Press Trust of India (10 September 2018). "Rajkummar Rao, Hansal Mehta team up for comedy Turram Khan, Nushrat Bharucha is leading lady". Hindustan Times. HT Media. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  21. "Karne aa rahe hai attention pe kabza, aaj se shuru hoti hai #RoohiAfza! 👻 🎬". Maddock Films. 14 June 2019. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  22. "Bose Dead/Alive: Rajkummar Rao, Makers Hope to Change Entertainment with the Web-Series". News18.
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