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Her second Marathi film Kaagar, directed by National award-winner Makarand Mane, has just released, and Rinku Rajguru is on an exhausting tour of promotions and media visits. When I tell her that a leading Marathi daily has reviewed the film and her performance well, she brightens up. “Wah,” she exclaims. One expects nothing less from the 17 year old after her promising debut as Archi in Nagraj Manjule’s historic hit Sairat. Three years on, and after endless offers that all sounded like Sairat copies, she has chosen to play Rani, a young girl who becomes a politician amidst a rural landscape fraught by love and power. Excerpts from a conversation:

You took three years to do your second film after Sairat. It must’ve been difficult for an actor as young as you to chart a career in an industry where you had no connections. Is there anyone who’s guiding you?

Nagraj sir. I go to him for anything related to films. I ask him what to do, what not to do. We have a discussion and then decide whether to go ahead or not. There were many filmmakers who came to me wanting me to play some version of Archi. Then there were some roles that came my way, which I didn’t want to do now or some characters that I didn’t like. I wanted to do a film that offered me something new, had a good story and had something significant to say. 

In an interview you and Nagraj did with Anupama Chopra, he said that his filmmaking journey started because he couldn’t find people like himself in the Hindi films he used to watch. One of the reasons why Sairat became such a hit was because people who were so far not represented on screen, saw themselves on it. Do you ever fear your transformation into a glamorous heroine would take away some of that appeal?

Not at all. Because I’m working as Rinku, not Archi. People loved Archi and so did I. But I wouldn’t like to live my life being known as Archi. No actress would like that. I would like to be Rani, then some other character… So I will change according to demands of the role I’m doing. And I might have lost weight, or may be looking different, but I remain the same person. This transformation has not been because of any pressure to be more ‘heroine’-like. It’s purely in service of the role I’m playing.

You’ve said that you will be pursuing acting seriously now, along with your studies. How do you nourish the actor in you? These days actors do workshops, etc

I honestly don’t know. I’m still very new and I’m still learning. I haven’t been training as such for anything, yet. But I believe if you work hard and with sincerity for your role, if you put your mind to understand the film, the story, it shows in your performance. Instead of making a fuss about acting and how one should approach it, I just let it happen organically. I think the more natural it is, the more people appreciate it. 

You became an overnight star after Sairat. Often, the journey of an actor and the journey of a star go in the opposite directions. An actor learns from life, from people, while a star has to be guarded from the same. How do you intend to balance this out?

I haven’t figured out how to answer that question yet. I don’t know the answer. People talk a lot about my journey all the time, but honestly, life is happening and I am just going with the flow. I’m learning new things, I’m meeting new people…Of course, I can’t do everything that I could do freely earlier, but I’m getting to do so much at such a young age. I don’t overanalyse it or get overwhelmed by it. I don’t sit and think ‘oh, this is a difficult journey’. I’m who I was at home, with my friends. Even when I meet new people, I’m still the same, normal girl but it’s they who look at me differently now. I always tell them not to treat me like star and just to let me be. 

As an actor, you said you would want to do films that leave the audience with some thought. Does that mean you wouldn’t run around trees and do pure glamour-driven entertainers?

I personally don’t like such movies. I would still prefer to work in meaningful, socially-conscious films. I don’t like to watch films where the hero-heroine are dancing, fighting and living in the film’s unreal world. But as an actor, one has to be open to all kinds of movies. 

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