A vegetarian married to a hardcore fish lover, their bond cemented by unadulterated friendship. “Soulmates” Rajkummar Rao and Patralekhaa Paul. The actors who just celebrated their first wedding anniversary, were in town to walk for Shantnu & Nikhil in Shantnu Nikhil Cricket Club, a new label from S & N by Shantnu & Nikhil, that was launched at Blenders Pride Glassware Fashion Tour powered by FDCI, at RCGC on December 19. We caught up with the actor couple a few hours before they took the ramp.
Not new to Kolkata at all, what are your Kolkata favourites?
Patralekhaa: Phuchka, mishti...
Patralekhaa: And, just loitering around the city...
Rajkummar, what are the things that Patralekhaa has introduced you to in Kolkata?
Rajkummar: She’s always had a house here. Her grandfather used to live in Kolkata. So, I have spent a lot of time with her in Kolkata.
Patralekhaa: I know what I introduced you to...
Patralekhaa: I took you to the fish market in Gariahat where you saw a fish that was alive...
Rajkummar: That was a sight for me.
Patralekhaa: He was shocked and asked me ‘Are these moving?’ I was, ‘kind of’... (laughs)
And, in terms of style?
Patralekhaa: I have introduced him to sushi!
Rajkummar: She is my go-to girl and shops for me a lot of times, when we are travelling together...
Patralekhaa: But Raj, you have a really good sense of style as well.
Rajkummar: I think it’s become better for sure, again, thanks to her.
Patralekhaa: Also, as an actor, you are promoting your films and you need to wear clothes and your horizon broadens up. It doesn’t matter if you are not a fashion person, you are an actor and you need to be well-dressed. That means you have to open yourself up to the fashion industry.
This is the first time you will be walking the ramp together. Are you exchanging tips?
Rajkummar: What we are wearing is great.... I love the colours and the tonality. I feel I can wear them in life as well. They are cool.
Patralekhaa: We are comfortable in it. I have worn Shantnu & Nikhil a couple of times earlier and love how feminine the silhouettes are for women. They drape really well and are fluid.
Rajkummar: So effortless... so, we are feeling confident.
Patralekhaa: We have walked a couple of times. So the jitteriness is gone.
Rajkummar: We both are together, so we’ll be fine.
What are the best parts of walking the ramp?
Patralekhaa: A designer bringing out his collection, it’s artistic, it’s about creativity. The moment a fashion walk starts, there is so much energy on stage and as a showstopper, you are imbibing that energy from the audience. So, I think I really liked that part.
Rajkummar: What they make us wear is so unique, I love wearing that and there are friends sometimes in the audience cheering for us... it’s a great feeling. Performing for a live audience.
The collection is cricket inspired. Are you both cricket fans?
Rajkummar: I am a cricket fan.
Patralekhaa: As Indians we all are, right? Bachpan mein toh, that’s what you would watch, no? But as I grew up, I went a little off (track), but you are always somehow connected because your husband’s always watching it and your father’s always watching it.
Who are your favourite cricketers?
Patralekhaa: Sachin Tendulkar when I was younger and of course Sourav Ganguly because there is this crazy Bong connection that you have with him. Virat Kohli for now.
Rajkummar: Yeah, currently Virat Kohli and all-time, I would say, Sachin.
Rajkummar: I think Virat styles himself really well.
Patralekhaa: Really effortless, but nowadays everybody’s well-dressed.
Rajkummar: Our current team is very fit.
Patralekhaa, any cricketer of the yesteryears that you liked?
Patralekhaa: Back in the day there was Wasim Akram. I think Shoaib Akhtar was really hot. Also, there were a couple of Australian cricketers who looked really nice, like Brett Lee.
Patralekhaa, who are your favourite style icons?
Patralekhaa: I love Sonam Kapoor. She has really changed the fashion game in the country. Audrey Hepburn. She is ‘the’ style icon. So effortless, minimal. In designers, it has to be Sabyasachi (Mukherjee) and Anamika Khanna.
It’s been a decade of togetherness...
Patralekhaa: It’s been a lot of highs and lows, personal losses, but I think we are good together and that’s why we decided to get married and it’s been a wonderful one year.
Rajkummar: I have spent one-third of my life with her. We’ve known each other for so long now, but the best part is that it still feels it’s not been that long. It’s been 11 years now.
Patralekhaa: Raj and I are friends. Friendship is what defines us. So, most of the time we are chilling. (Laughs)
That’s the secret to keep love alive, right?
Patralekhaa: I guess.
Rajkummar: Friendship is an important ingredient.
Rajkummar, what does she bring to your life?
Rajkummar: Everything. She brings all the happiness in my life. She is my go-to girl for everything, be it my films, she is one of my first audience to watch the film and her feedback means a lot to me and she is brutally honest, which is great. So, when she likes it, I get happy. Whatever films she has liked, the world has liked.
Patralekhaa, what does he bring to your life?
Patralekhaa: He has been the grounding factor in my life and also in a way, he has been my guru. He has taught me a lot about watching films, good acting, bad acting, camera angles... you know he is a true-blooded lover of movies and it’s great to have him as a companion. I found a friend in him and our friendship blossomed.... We were always soulmates.
Are you learning from him all the time?
Patralekhaa: All the time. I love him when he is doing his scenes. You read it and then you see he is doing something completely different and that blows your mind. It doesn’t look like he is doing anything and there is so much effort that goes into not doing anything.
What are your favourite works of each other?
Rajkummar: As of now it’s Citylights, but once Gulkanda Tales comes out early next year, I would say it’s going to be my favourite.
Patralekhaa: I have tons, but let’s go with this year... it’s Badhaai Do and Monica, O My Darling.
How have you retained the sanctity of the relationship, away from the media glare?
Rajkummar: I think we’ve been who we are. What we are at home is what we are for the outside world. We are not trying to be somebody else.
Patralekhaa: We let our audience know what is important and what is irrelevant is not anybody’s business.