Just the way he is...

Just the way he is...

One half of the name bears the legacy of a family of famous actors in Kannada cinema. The other half of the name has just begun an artistic journey towards an independent identity. Vinay Rajkumar.

At his home in Sadashivanagar, the 28-year-old actor breaks away from practising dialogues for his upcoming film (a romantic comedy) and takes the sofa close to a wall plastered with photos of his late actor-grandfather, Dr Rajkumar. The pet dog, Zook, is close by.

This house stands on the same ground where the old house, “which resembled a zoo”, stood during the times his grandfather lived. “We had cows, deer, sheep, dogs, and swans, ducks and fish!” he says.

It’s also here that he spent time with his grandfather, watching films. Vinay remembers that “grandfather often asked me to get him DVDs and CDs of action films... he loved them. The talks were about movies. And once in a while, I used to cook for him. He liked continental breakfast, and we would eat in the garden outside.”

In his recollection is the fact that never did his granddad preach anything, or ever ask him to be an actor. “He was an example by himself. I think I learnt his ways just by being around him. But he did ask me to exercise, because I ate a lot, and was a very fat boy,” Vinay adds. Now, however, training every day to keep fit is one of his essentials.

With his actor-uncle Puneeth Rajkumar, his relationship has grown into that of friendship, allowing them to talk freely about anything.

“Puneeth has pampered me the most! After graduation (B Com), I joined him on foreign-location shoots to understand the film world. And wondered if I would be able to act if I wanted to be an actor,” the thick-bearded actor says.

And in his parents, Raghavendra and Mangala Rajkumar, he has found his mentors and the best lovable managers. He says, “My mom manages my diet and my schedule. She is also my reminder since I am quite forgetful about my appointments. All she expects from me is to tell her what I’m up to. She wants to hear it from me rather than from an outsider. And dad offers inputs about any script that I find interesting.”

The script that has fascinated him of late is Ananthu v/s Nusruth, a court-room drama and a rom-com in which he plays the role of an advocate. “Shooting will soon start. Working with a crew gives me a lot of happiness. But I’m not someone who speaks or socialises much. In the movie, I have to talk a lot and interact a lot. I’m doing something that’s so not me. It’s like exploring myself. So I like acting.”

Has he ever wished to be out of the film-oriented family environment? “I can’t imagine my life without this family. But once in a while, I like to visit a place where no one knows my background. People still recognise me as Rajkumar’s grandson. But it’s nice if someone knows me as just Vinay.”

So, he did go to Mumbai after his first movie Siddhartha (2015), for acting and dance lessons... “to be alone in a new city, to explore myself, and to spend time with artistes who didn’t know me.”

In May 2017, one of his favourites, his grandmother Parvathamma Rajkumar, an Indian film producer and distributor, passed away, aged 77. Her production house, Sri Vajreshwari Combines, had backed Vinay’s second film, an action thriller, Run Antony (2016).

Vinay’s voice picks up pace and colour as he goes back to the late night when she called him and his brother (Guru Rajkumar) and began speaking to them at length about her life in general, and the efforts to build the name Rajkumar, and the production house in particular. “She spoke about who helped her and who didn’t. And asked us to always forgive someone’s mistakes. And then she asked if I could go driving in the night. So we did!”

He says this was the last lively chat the brothers had with their grandmom. Soon after, she fell ill and succumbed to cancer.

As a third-generation actor in the family, he is often the subject of scrutiny and comparison. “They see if I dance like Puneeth, or act like Shivanna or Rajkumar! I mean, I’m not them.” But many voices say that his mannerisms and looks don’t resemble anyone’s in his family. Vinay plans to use this to his advantage and grow from there.

Growing up in the field, according to him, is also to stop wondering “why people comment so harshly and knowing that my job is to go on acting well.”


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