I’ll Be Playing Women Characters in Amazon’s Audiobook: Rajkummar

Stree actor Rajkummar Rao has worked on his first audiobook, where he, along with Radhika Apte and Kalki Koechlin, would be narrating Hussain Zaidi’s Mafia Queens of Mumbai.

The audiobook is a production of Audible, a subsidiary of Amazon that’s launching premium digital spoken content in India.

Rajkummar spoke to The Quint about his first experience of working on an audiobook:

Listening to stories has been something that has been a part of growing up for us; our grandparents, parents have been narrating stories. Is that what attracted you to do an audiobook?

Rajkummar: In a way, yes. This has been a very unique experience for me. I have never tried something like this ever, never done radio or any platform where I have only used my voice. And here I was narrating these stories and acting out all the characters, I had to modulate my voice and be these characters in the same story. It was a phenomenal experience .

Do you listen to podcasts or audiobooks generally?

RK: Yes, I do listen to podcasts. And I am excited to listen to stories now on Audible. I think it would be a great experience.

Rajkummar with Radhika Apte and Kalki Koechlin at the launch of Audible India.

Was it difficult to work on an audio platform?

RK: The challenge is to keep it engaging, it cannot be boring and flat. It has to be interesting for the audience and it has to be entertaining. It has to be interactive. There is no visual attached, so the audience has the freedom to imagine their own world and characters however they like. But we will make that world very believable for them. When they listen to a specific character, they should hear a different voice. When they listen to Sapna Didi or Karim Lala, they will hear different voice. So it is for us to give them these ingredients and then they can make their own world.

So it is based on Hussain Zaidi’s novel ‘Mafia Queens of Mumbai’, and the poster has three women. So what are you playing?

RK: It’s about the female underworld and these characters are actually unheard off. None of us even knew about them. I think that way also it was quite engaging.

So would you be playing a female character as well?

RK: Yes, of course. I would play all the female characters as well. Of course I will not change my voice and speak in a different way but it would be in spirit.

The book explores the lives of many female gangsters, which one was your favourite?

RK:‘Sapna Didi’ is one of my favourite stories because she went from being this very regular housewife waiting for her husband, very gentle and naive, to being this deadly gangster. I think it is an incredible graph to the whole character.

Speaking of your film journey, I know you said repeatedly that “I know Stree has done well but I do not take this seriously”, but is it difficult when you are getting more successful to be real?

RK: No it is up to you and the kind of people you are surrounded by. I am surrounded by some real people and I have a real life and I go back home to a real world. Of course there are perks attached to being a celebrity but I like my real life. And I always say this, if I can’t interact with real people, how am I going to portray a real character on screen? I mean, you have to be real first, only then can you portray that.

Social media is also a huge part of an actor’s life now. Do you look at it as a way to understanding and meeting like-minded people or is it a hindrance?

RK: I think it is fun.But I won’t say I am a very strong social media addict. But I do like interacting with people on social media and I like reading about their opinions on performances, politics and what’s happening in society. I think there is a lot of knowledge there, if you take it.

And a lot of hate.

RK: And a lot of hate (laughs). I mean but in my case, I have not had a lot of hate on social media luckily.

Since audio books are a new option for people to recreate, what do you do to unwind in your free time?

RK: I like to travel a lot. I have been getting quite a few offs, so I really enjoy travelling. I love watching movies. I am watching a lot of films now digitally. Now I will listen to more audiobooks too!

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