Working since the age of 11, from farming to studies, it has been a very long journey which cannot be summed up in a few lines. Coming from a village where one couldn’t even find a path to walk after months of heavy rain… It was like one used to get the chance to wear their bottoms only outside the village because the water used to be above the knee level; clogging the entire area. Many such things were part of this journey. It can be said that when I was studying in grade 3 or 4, I received my first prize – an eraser. A pencil the second time and a towel, the third time. These three prizes in life were earned for doing things like reciting some lines on Ramayana, cracking a joke or for performing on special patriotic occasions, there used to be restlessness to do something along with studies though the direction was unknown. I got a chance to study high school. I had the good fortune to buy the books of grade 6 from my own earnings. Over the years by the time I got admission in college it had got clear to me that I had the curiosity in me to do something big in cultural activities. I joined the Coronation art theatre, wherein I would study & work during the day & got the chance to do theatre in the evening.
Vibha Mishra ji gave me the opportunity to perform in two plays namely Bhubaneshwar Ek Rang and Andher Nagri Chaupat Raja Taka Ser Bhaji Taka Ser Khaja. In that I got a chance to play the role of Govardhandas which brought light to the darkness in my life. I was heavily applauded for the role. From that day I decided from now onwards even if I’m applauded or cursed but field of art is my area which is hidden within me and from where I’ll earn my bread. It’s the ‘art’ hidden within which will bring out 'the atta’ (earning for a living). However, in 1997, after doing a five-year course at the Bharatiya Natak Academy, Lucknow and the National School of Drama, New Delhi I got a chance to move to Mumbai.
So it can be said that the atmosphere of the village filled such energy in me to do something new and different. There was restlessness as well. Perhaps if I hadn’t seen that atmosphere of the village, I wouldn’t have been in the film industry. Also my elder brother and I were primarily responsible for handling the family. So that's what I think are the contributing factors that got me into the Mumbai film industry. I remember one night I was sitting with my friends watching a serial which used to come after ‘Chitrahar’ a famous serial on Doordarshan. As I was into plays and theatre, while we were watching the show, one of my friends enquired, “Rajpal, what do you do in plays and theatre? What are your plans for the near future”, to which I answered, “Work in the exact same world which you’re watching on television”. Then my friends laughed it out and mocked “Ghar ghar kutte ghaas khaale toh phir ho gaya kaam” (If dogs were to be fed on grass, everybody would have owned one). After that I decided I’ll never mention what I wanted to do to any of my friends or anyone. And later when I started getting work in the film industry, I didn't need to tell anyone what I do.
The Journey from Setback to Success
Life is a struggle but one thing that I’ve always been sure about is that I have been very positive since childhood. Great achievements do not come easily and that’s the fun part. By Grace of God I have never been a part of the group of people running behind in a race. When we used to pray in school, I was made to stand in front to establish a combination of height. But the way in which all my teachers made me stand in front during the prayer to set the combination of height, that habit indirectly instilled in me that no matter what the struggle, no matter which corner of life, I always wanted to stand ahead in it and still thrive to do so.
Where there is life there are struggles. Even today the fire within me to move forward is still the same, to always run ahead in the race, to always play ahead in life’s kabaddi; that is my height and my spirit to fight. I do not know what’s written further in life because life does not depend on one man. It is also dependent on various factors like the time, environment and nature. In whatever condition, wherever one tries to stand there is always an attempt to overcome the complications and try to move forward for success. That too with full gratitude.
Laughter- The Best Medicine
To overcome life's problems, to fight them and get success over it, laughter is very important, be it from within, outside or from the society. Laughter improves your blood circulation and helps to ignite a smile even on a dull person’s face. When it comes to laughter, no one gets irritated. It is something that cannot be created but imbibed in the blood. I am more than thankful when people entitle me as an entertainer. I feel very fortunate for this. I would like to give an example, when I was in the institute; I saw a movie called ‘The Great Dictator’ directed by Charlie Chaplin. Compared to today’s world the way he directed the film with little to no facility was truly inspiring. I saw a lot of his programs, but he did not speak in any way. So it's one such acting class or one such entertainment class that he was able to use the audience as a remote. When he wanted the audience to laugh, he made them laugh. When he wanted them to cry, he made them cry. He did not want to give sorrow, and then people gave the meaning to it. I feel that when I started, I got to see some classic work of such an actor that I realised that when one is able to grasp masses with his class alone, then it feels like icing on the cake. Laughing is very important to overcome life's problems.
One day I was thinking the way a patient needs a ventilator to receive oxygen; similarly a human being needs support to deal with life-threatening problems and complications. It is very important to give support so that one can deal with the problems of life and fight with them. So I think art is one such healing medicine that acts as a supporter, like a ventilator to get oxygen. Similarly, I firmly believe that art is a life supporter to lead a good life. There is no man who does not have happiness in him or who does not have anger or who does not have thinking. As they say ‘9 ras’, there are all sorts of emotions in everyone. So those who utilize them manage to change their lives unlike those who do not use them. There are a lot of roles which I’m currently working on and a lot of roles that I have done which have given me immense satisfaction, through Bollywood I am able to serve as the entertainer of my country and the world, I will try that every child, adult, old and young human being, should have good blood circulation and should be equally entertained by my artistic role and remain healthy & I am very thankful for all your blessings.
Evolution of the Hindi Film Industry
I had the privilege of being a part of the film industry for 20-25 years. I’ve seen the film industry change every five years, gradually adapting to digitalization. There are thirty six states in our country and as they say, the water & speech changes every five kilometers. Likewise we have such a diverse and vast history of millions and millions of years. Every soil has its own unique story and all these different unique stories are used as a medium to create a screen play and present it to the audience. With this, we will be able to give strength to the creativity of cinema in our country, the same way in which the people of the world are influenced by Bollywood songs and enjoy grooving on it. But majority of the content in Bollywood's stories are inspired from foreign and the Indian culture seems to be missing somewhere. So I always feel, when the whole world can like our music, songs then the world will also like the original content and many people will get inspiration from it. This little disbalance is somewhat visible. If our saree apparel is considered to be the best in the whole world then believe it is. There are millions of such stories that can be transformed into a form of creativity as a garment of the world. Many such stories are not made very often and also don’t receive their due attention.
If it is a creative story, then it should be immersed in Indian culture. So that along with us the people of the world can also enjoy and get to see the originality. So somewhere there is a slight lack of the originality and copying is seen more in it. Don't imitate others and be your authentic real self. We feel proud to wear our Indian attire. In the same way, I feel that if we create a balance in the stories in our screen play and serve it in front of the world then Hollywood will also start following us.
Sources of Powerful Lessons
I got a chance to learn a lot from the different colors of life. I would just like to say this to everyone whatever work you do, that is your ‘karam’ and your work should be refined daily. We are people working in the field of art, and as they say, the more you work the more your work shines. So you don't have to be an artist to spread more art. To understand the size of art, it is very important for you to become a seed because art in the form of tree is huge. As the saying goes, ‘art is born at the end of the seven seas and is persistent everywhere from one’s house to the limits of sky.’ The size of an art is known only when you imagine, think of some words, and write them on paper. By assimilating them and then performing them with your whole body and mind on any stage be it theatre, television, film, and then you see life within art. So I think when someone wants to become a knowledge of tree, it doesn’t happen directly, somewhere it starts from a seed. So I would just like to tell all my friends that if you have to work, in whatever field, you should become the seed of that field rather than become a whole tree because a seed takes birth slowly. It germinates itself then gradually turns into branches. Those branches start growing flowers and eventually yield fruits. So always plan to become a seed. A tree has no limits in itself it adapts according to the atmosphere of the country. It becomes like a storm in a storm and like a heat in summer. In the spring it becomes like spring, so I think as long as the habit of becoming a seed will remain till then you’ll continue to flourish in whatever changes happen in the world.
Ambition is very important for any man, it gives energy to work. I’ve met many teachers in different forms like teachers in school, the faculty, and directors. I’ll consider my life very incomplete if I hadn’t met Shri Pandit Dev Prabhakar ji Shastri ji also lovingly known as Dadda. If I hadn’t got a chance to learn life philosophy from him, perhaps Rajpal would have been incomplete. You always have a responsibility towards life. If you are given this life, then neither you know about your birth nor about your death. But between birth and death, one performs after learning in life, be it in the form of reality or in the form of reel. Guidance is very important for every man. In the creative aspect, I’ve learnt from many people ranging from children to old human beings. Even today I believe that every day is a learning day, every day is a working day, every day is a beginning day, and every day is a new day. If guidance had not been received towards life, then perhaps all of this would have been mixed up. In life be it in business, family or worldly aspects, wherever you get a chance to fulfill your responsibility, then you need a guide in your life for that.
I am very fortunate that I got such a teacher in life who always worked equally for the welfare of the nation and the welfare of the world for the betterment of all. The biggest philosophy of life is that ‘you should do it for yourself but think for others too.’ A great saint, Vidyasagar ji Maharaj ji said, “One should earn their livelihood and help others to earn their livelihood as well.” This is the biggest philosophy of life; I get a lot of inspiration from many people. I would also like to thank Dadasaheb Phalke for the way he created one such institution that has turned 100 years old and it seems to run the households of millions of people and I’m privileged to be a part of it too. Nothing could be more fortunate than this.