Note: Mild spoilers ahead
“Tumhe depress karne bheja tha, impress karke aa gaye ho,” says Chirag Dubey (Ayushmann Khurrana) to Rajkummar Rao’s character Pritam Vidrohi in the sleeper hit Bareilly Ki Barfi. The line also serves as an apt description of some of Rajkummar Rao’s best performances. Be it in Queen, Love Sex Aur Dhokha or Trapped, he’s picked characters that are either unlikeable, un-heroic or desperate, and yet Rajkummar manages to make you feel for them. Here, we pick some of our favourite moments from his films. These aren’t necessarily the major dramatic moments that we all remember, but the small, fleeting moments that made us smile.
LSD: LOVE SEX AUR DHOKHA
In LSD: Love Sex Aur Dhokha, Dibakar Banerjee’s anthology film, Rajkummar plays Adarsh - a debt-ridden, good-for-nothing whose family connections help him secure a job at a supermarket. To make a quick buck, he seduces his coworker Rashmi and discreetly films a sex tape of them.
In one of the few lighter moments of this sordid tale, Rashmi gets chatty with a male customer at the store. A jealous Adarsh keeps awkwardly butting in to eavesdrop on their conversation. First he marches in under the pretext of picking up a big jar of oil, and when that doesn’t work, he returns seconds later and sternly says in his broken English, “Rashmi, come for dinner up, okay. I’m waiting. Come fast.”
You can watch LSD: Love Sex Aur Dhokha on Netflix here
In an early scene of the film, Vijay tries to woo Rani by sneaking into her college library to ask her out. As they share affectionate glances across a bookshelf, he starts listing out Chinese food items - Manchow? Maan jao? It’s a very cute scene and Rao plays it with irresistible charm.
You can watch Queen on Netflix here
In my favourite scene of the film, Rajkummar who plays slain advocate Shahid Azmi, gets into a heated argument the prosecuting attorney after she brings up his past criminal record. “Jo jail jaata hai woh terrorist hota hai? Aise toh Shivaji Maharaj, Bhagat Singh bhi jail mein rahe,” yells Shahid. It’s a tense scene but it’s amazing to watch him recoup himself before he goes on to decimating a witness.
You can watch Shahid on Netflix here
Rajkummar excels as the hapless Shaurya trapped in a desolate Mumbai high rise. In one scene, he lights fire to a HELP sign he made with his clothes, but it soon burns out. He then throws in his mattress and couch to the fire as well. It gets out of control and now he has to extinguish the fire he started.
You can watch Trapped on Amazon Prime Video here
As Pritam Vidrohi in Bareilly Ki Barfi, Rajkummar transitions fluidly from a timid, soft-spoken seller in a sari shop to a ‘badass babua’. In the restaurant scene in which he first meets Bitti (Kriti Sanon), he pretends to be obnoxious to put her off. "Babua, yaha aao!", he calls out to a waiter. When the boy replies with a simple "Haan jee sir" he grabs him by the collar and forces him to ask "Kya lijeeyega?".