A multi-hyphenate creator, actor Rajesh Tailang discusses his journey in arts — as an actor, poet and filmmaker
Rajesh Tailang never thought of acting as a ‘profession’. He equates his “incredible journey” as an actor with an “artist pursuing art”. He says, “Through the art of acting, I have seen myself evolve and achieve.”
The actor will be seen in a social drama film titled Andaman along with Sanjay Mishra. Directed by debutant Smita Singh, the film, whose premise is set in the aftermath of COVID-19 outbreak, was shot in an actual quarantine centre. “It is an inspirational story set inside a quarantine centre in a remote village. The film deals with the harsh realities of our society with a great sense of humour. I play a small role in it,” he adds.
Rajesh, 48, made his debut in films with an unconventional role. At 26, he played a 65-year-old man in the National Award-winning 1998 film Hazaar Chaurasi ki Maa, starring Jaya Bachchan. Some may also remember him in 2015’s The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. More recently, he has also starred in the Emmy-winning Netflix series Delhi Crime as Inspector Bhupendra Singh, and in Amazon Prime’s Mirzapur as Ramakant Pandit.
Says the National School of Drama (NSD) graduate, “That is what a love for acting does. It makes you look at a role as a character.” The actor has also spent time teaching at NSD.
Having been born into a family of musicians and artists, Rajesh’s initiation into art happened very early. He started out in theatre whilst still a child. “My role in Bandish Bandits (Amazon Prime) was close to my real life. The only difference is that unlike the strict dad I played in it, my father was friendly,” says Rajesh; the series was shot in his hometown of Bikaner in Rajasthan.
During lockdown, Rajesh pursued a pet project — a film he shot via video calls. “I used the technique of remote direction and shot the [short] film over three months,” he says.
The movie is titled Trivediji, and is about a woman stuck in lockdown with the only living partner in her house: a plant. Rajesh held the rehearsals too via video call. The film features Vartika Tiwari, a student of NSD. “She was stuck in Mumbai during lockdown, and we decided to do something creative. I directed the angles and scenes through video call,” he says.
Though there was a lot of back and forth involved in making the film, Rajesh adds he is happy with the outcome and plans to screen it at film festivals.
The creator in him now awaits the publication of his book — a collection of romantic poems in Hindi; it is titled Chand pe chai. “When not acting and writing poems, I make short films. I upload these films on my YouTube channel: ‘Theatre Talkies’,” he concludes.