Vijay Raaz, actor and director acclaimed for his wide repertoire of work in Hindi films, was arrested on November 2 for allegedly molesting a film crew member in Gondia, Maharashtra. A case has been filed against him, police said. Read our full report here.
Here are ten things to know about Raaz and his life in cinema:
1. Brought up in Delhi, Vijay Raaz pursued his graduation from the University of Delhi’s PGDAV College. Here, his interest in acting was piqued upon joining the theatre circuit. In an earlier interview, he stated that becoming an actor had never been on the cards for him, but his inclination towards this field grew during college when he realised acting was what he “enjoyed the most.”
2. Raaz relocated to Bombay to pursue a career in films. He claims that it was Naseeruddin Shah, who spotted him at Delhi’s National School of Drama, and through whose reference Raaz got his first big break on screen. “It was at NSD that Naseersaab had seen my plays. In fact, he recommended me for Bhopal Express and then for Monsoon Wedding,” he said in an interview.
3. Raaz’s first film release came with Mahesh Mathai’s 1999 film Bhopal Express, where he played the role of Badru, alongside stalwarts like Shah, Zeenat Aman, and Kay Kay Menon. Interestingly, all of Raaz’s initial few releases occurred under critically acclaimed directors – Ram Gopal Varma, Hansal Mehta, and Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra – setting the tone for the trajectory his film career would follow.
4. With Mira Nair’s award-winning Monsoon Wedding in 2001, Raaz shot to fame as the endearing Dubey ji paired alongside Tillotama Shome. The film had a seasoned ensemble cast that included Shefali Shah, Lillete Dubey, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Rajat Kapoor, and Soni Razdan.
5. Raaz’s career took an upward turn hereon, as he bagged memorable roles in critically-acclaimed films, usually as a supporting character. His collaborations with directors like Varma, Anurag Kashyap, and Mani Ratnam in crime-thriller films like Road, Paanch, and Yuva (respectively) became a huge definer of his acting chops.
6. He is best known for his versatility as an actor, shifting with ease between comedic and antagonistic characters. In this regard, he is remembered as Ganesh in the infamous ‘kauwa biryani’ scene from the 2004 film Run, as also an anguished, resentful father to Ranveer Singh in the 2019 film Gully Boy.
7. In 2014, Raaz made his directorial debut with the Partition-themed war film Kya Dilli Kya Lahore. A project backed by Gulzar as the presenter, the film, despite its small cast and relative obscurity, received rave reviews from critics across the board. About the film, Raaz had said, “It is a very emotional film for me because I don’t come from the regular set-up. I just wanted to narrate the story my way. I did not lose sleep on making it commercially viable by putting in an item song. It is a very innocent story.”