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Kasim Razvi of Razakar Film – Raj Arjun

Kasim Rizwi of Razakar

Kasim Razvi of Razakar film, Farooq of Secret Superstar and Kishore Reddy of Gam Gam Ganesha – Raj Arjun – the theatre artiste turned film actor speaks to Rajeshwari Kalyanam about
getting negative roles that are exciting

You dream of something strong enough, then you are ready to invest all you can for the dream. This is so true in the case of Raj Arjun, a theatre actor from Bhopal who shifted bag and baggage to Mumbai to realise his dream of working in films. And, it took me 18 years for him to land a role that mattered. As his latest film Razakar releases with Raj getting accolades for his role as Kasim Razvi – leader of Razakars, the militia of the Nizam of Hyderabad – we catch up with the theatre actor turned anti-hero in Indian films, and go over his journey.

Kasim Rizwi of Razakar

Excerpts from the interview

On Picking up the Role of Kasim Razvi & Being Cast for Negative Roles

If I was being type-casted in a certain kind of roles, then I have been breaking it again and again. I played a role of Sai Baba, which actually took me on another route, which was appreciated all over.

So, I definitely make it a point that I don’t go for only negative roles, or be type casted. But, I don’t mind people offering me villain’s roles because I just love them. Why do I love them? Because there is so much to do in these kinds of performances.

They are not stereotypes. Additionally, when you are called for playing villain, nowadays in cinema, it is not like you will come like a typical villain and enter a typical scene. What I’m trying to say is that people have started seeing him as a human now. And, on a humanitarian ground, if he has his own vulnerabilities and if he shows it on screen, people love it.

Audience does not  want to see a macho man. They don’t just want to see a powerful Superman or a Spiderman kind of a person. They want to see that he also has pain like us, he also cries like us.

Watching a villain cry on the screen creates magic. Because he has his own fear, he has his own traumas.

I usually go with the character. I don’t see it as villain. That’s why I enjoy the journey

For example, when the role of Kasim Razvi came to me, I never ever thought that he is a villain.

Though everybody knows this and it is mentioned in the history that all deeds he did were not right.

But if I start thinking that I (while enacting Kasim Razvi) am doing something which is not right, I will not be able to justify the role. The human inside me as a person will also start doubting myself. And when I act, it’s not me, but Kasim Razvi, who is actually doing it.

And he believed in it. He did not think it was wrong. He may have done it for his own religion or for his own dream or he just wanted to fulfill it because of the way he was brought up.  From childhood his ambition would have been to see certain kind of country.

So, these are the characters when I get them, I feel that there is a lot to play inside.

Kasim Rizwi

On His Method of Acting

There are a lot of exercises happening around. Some talk about going out to experience, and do the role. For me I feel every character is inside you and you just have to go deeper and deeper. What has always worked for me is to go inside. It gives me satisfaction and I am excited at the same time about acting only by internalising it all.

Whether it is Kasim Razvi or Farooq of Secret Superstar or in Thalaivi or my other characters like Kishore Reddy of Gam Gam Ganesha or Feroz of Yudra, I thoroughly believe that I am that character. You would be surprised that I don’t want to leave the character by the end of it. And that is why it creates a lot of impact on my body, mind.

You may shoot for around a month. But you have been preparing for that role for around for 3 – 4 months. So, to have it more inside, you have to live it more. Then only it will look convincing.

On Working With Vijay Devarakonda and Anand Devarakonda

I think I have got different connection with this family indirectly, subconsciously. There is no direct connection and all. But fortunately, again and again things are happening when I am acting with them.

It was a wonderful experience with Vijay when I was working for Dear Comrade. Not that I am an actor from Bollywood who has come and this is my first film.

He was treating me like an elder brother and was giving me immense respect. He and Anand both are very cultured, humble.

I know that Vijay also started as no one and then he funded a short film for a friend and that’s how he saw success. And he is doing very well right now.

So he knows from where actors start and what they go through. And he respects the craft, the actors, which creates a good vibe around and friendly atmosphere.

It was amazing to work with Anand in Gam Gam Ganesha. It’s again a very exciting, interesting film which is a little different for me. Of course it is a main villain.

But it is not a tough typical villain who will just only create a thrill. He will bring some smile as well on your face.

Acting in Telugu, Malayalam, Tamil Films

The only issue I have while working in different language films is language itself. Cinema wise I do experience a lot of different cultures.

I do experience a lot of different content. In Malayalam cinema or in Telugu they are going a lot ahead and experimenting a lot, and bringing in the small nuances of the character even if it is a villain.

So I feel fortunate enough that I am living in Mumbai, I am working in Hindi industry. But I am honoured that they are considering me somehow in other languages.

I don’t know anybody in Telugu or Tamil or Malayalam industry. It is just that a call comes and I am hired and I am called for an important role.

Shooting in the south – Memories

It was wonderful working with Rashmika. She is an amazing to work with. I would call her Baby Doll, and, ‘she would say it is an honour to work with you’. We were working for Dear Comrade. When I started working on Thalaivi – I was apprehensive about how receiving Kangana would be of other actors. My doubts were misplaced and I had a great time shooting in Chennai.

I fly in the performances. And I want to take liberty. I just want to go wherever my instinct tells me to go. She was so supportive in whatever I wanted to do.

There was not even a 0.1% hindrance created by her. And when I saw that as a human as well as an actor, she is good to work with, I told her that.

Going Back to Becoming a Film Actor

After I shifted to Mumbai from Bhopal, I was without work for years and years.

Life has been kind to me. Everything was going well. If there was one thing that was not happening. It was work.

Everything else was taken care of by my family, my people around me, who were associated with me.

I come from a good background and also economically I was very, very strong. So, the struggle was not how to survive. The struggle was how to get work and how to live in this big city without work.

I remember during that time – every day there was a question on what to do now and what will I do today? Where will I go today? And where do I work? I was just looking for one opportunity.

For 18 years, it didn’t happen.

When things are not happening your way, and you keep getting rejected – you even start doubting yourselves – are you really a good actor or not? Are you really a good human or not? Or are you really worthy enough or not?

And then, I started throwing this energy to the universe that please give me one opportunity to prove myself as an actor, not to others, but to myself.

And, then I did my first film.