Rajat Barmecha was twenty-one years old when ‘Udaan’, his debut film, released in theatres. The much-acclaimed film introduced Rajat to a large number of audiences that only had good things to say about his portrayal of a troubled teenager in the film. Rajat went through the highs and lows in his career and the last couple of years, with the digital boom happening in the country, have been quite good to him. The actor has been seen in some popular shows in the digital space and his new project, the second season of ‘Hey Prabhu’ started streaming recently.
In this interview, the actor talks about the new season of his hit show, how ‘Udaan’ became a life-altering film for him, surviving the struggle phase, becoming an entrepreneur with The Barmecha House and more.
The first season of ‘Hey Prabhu’ was very successful. How, do you think, the show has evolved in these two seasons?
Personally, I feel that making the second season of a successful show is a big responsibility. Sometimes, people make a ‘Season 2’ of a popular show just because the first season has done well. When you do not put the necessary efforts, the audience rejects the content. I am glad that the entire team, especially the writers, took some time and came up with something that works as a good follow-up to the first season. In the second season, the problems are much more complicated than the ones my character encountered in the first season. When you do a first season of a show, you need to develop scenes to build the characters. In the second season, you don’t need to do that. That is the reason the second season of a show tends to have a faster pace than the first season.
The second season of ‘Hey Prabhu’ has been directed by Abhishek Dogra who has helmed films like ‘Dolly Ki Doli’ and ‘Fryday’ in the past. How was the experience of working with him?
Abhishek is a very talented director. I had a great time working with him. The team on the show was very young and that is why the shoot turned out to be so much fun. I get very comfortable and friendly with my directors. I believe the biggest knowledge for an actor comes from the director. Shashanka (Ghosh) and I bonded very well on season 1 and Abhishek and I shared a great vibe on the second season.
‘Udaan’ will complete 11 years of its release this July. How do you look back at the film?
Udaan was shot on 16 mm. When you talk about Udaan, there are so many memorable experiences we had on the film. We shot on film camera. That happens very rarely today as everything has gone digital. While we were shooting, we would be stressed about things like not having enough cans. You cannot waste a second when you are shooting on film. After that, when I did projects that were shot digitally, the experience was very different. Technically and emotionally, I learnt so much while working on ‘Udaan’. It was a very emotional journey for all of us. A large number of people who worked on the film were first-timers then. It was more of a personal journey than a professional journey.
I remember you stating in an interview how director Vikramaditya Motwane asked you to listen to only a certain kind of music while working on the film.
Because of ‘Udaan’, I got to know so much about the technical side of filmmaking. It has been thirteen years since we started working on the film. I was a naive, young boy from Delhi who knew nothing about filmmaking. ‘Udaan’ was my film school. Everything started with Udaan. As far as the music technique is concerned, I do that even today. When I am working on a project, I listen to the kind of music that I feel would help me get into the skin of the character. That is a very good exercise and it always helps.
Two years back, you put up an elaborate post on Facebook which went viral. It was about people asking you why you were not doing much work as an actor.
It was actually a very random thing. A couple of things were running through my mind and that led me towards writing that post. Some of my relatives would keep asking my parents things like, “why is Rajat travelling so much”, “he should be focussing on his work”. I was very upset about this. I love travelling. It is nobody’s business what I do with my money. I just thought of writing a post about it. The media made a big thing out of it. Some people felt I was depressed. That was far from being the truth. I had my shares of ups and downs but it has been a great journey. The web scene in India gave opportunities to a lot of actors, directors and technicians. It gave me financial stability. Financially stability is very important for an artiste. We all love art and that is why we are here. But, at the end of the day we need to eat and run our families. One must focus on that too. When I started out, I said yes to some projects which I was not too excited about as I needed money. Now, with God’s grace, I can pick the projects which I really want to do.
When you started out a decade ago, the industry was not as organised. Do you think things have changed now?
Yes, things were not at all organised then. When I started out, I used to give 8-10 auditions every day. We would be asked to sit in an audition room. A person would come out with a cue sheet and tell you whether you are fit or not fit. I used to travel from Borivali to Marine Drive to give auditions every day. Now, they call you when they feel you might be suitable for a particular role. It is more organised than it was before.
You recently turned entrepreneur. You launched a café in Mumbai called The Barmecha House.
Yes, I started it primarily because of my mother. My sister and her husband run a café in Himachal Pradesh. My parents used to visit it and were fond of it. One day, my mother said, “let’s start a cafe here in Mumbai!”. I thought she was joking but soon, I realized that she was serious. My brother and I became partners and started this cafe. When I am not shooting, I go there to chill. My brother is the one who is running it so wonderfully. He is the chef and the baker there and the café is his passion project.
What is that one reason, you would say, which the audience should watch ‘Hey Prabhu’ Season 2?
Those who saw the first season, I hope they come back to watch the second season too. Those who have not seen the first one should go and check out the first one. It is a show that the young generation would be able to relate to. Social media plays such a huge role in our lives these days and the show talks about that. I was not very active on social media but now I am thanks to the show (laughs). While promoting the first season, I got hooked to it. It talks about these small issues which most of us face in our day-to-day lives. They are not major issues but we tend to see them as very big. It is my first show post the pandemic, so that makes it special.
What are you doing next?
I have just signed two projects but it’s too early to talk about them.