After an impressive debut as a sensitive young poet rebelling against his abusive father in Vikramaditya Motwane’s 2010 film Udaan, Rajat Barmecha all but disappeared. In the eight years that followed, he was seen in the odd feature film and a web series, but nothing that stuck. For those who were wondering where the promising performer had gone, Barmecha’s Facebook profile offered a clue: “What do you do for a living? I Travel! So how do you make money? Aah. For that I act”, his introduction declares.
Now 28, Barmecha can be seen in the web series Love Lust And Confusion, which was released on the streaming platform Viu on March 17. He also has a feature film lined up, Rajesh Tibrewal’s Leader, and is also shooting for another web series.
Love Lust And Confusion centres on 26-year-old Poroma (Tara Alisha Berry), who has a list of fantasies to fulfill before she gets married to her fiance. She moves to Mumbai for a year, where she comes across Jhonny (Barmecha), a drummer in a rock band who has been dumped and is looking for a fling. Billed as a “story of millennials”, the series also stars Meiyang Chang, Gaurav Chopra, Jaya Bhattacharya and Samir Kochhar.
This is Barmecha’s second web series after Mithila Palkar-starrer Girl in the City (2016), where too he played second fiddle to a show headlined by a woman. But Barmecha is not particular about being the face of a project and said he was “happy, content and satisfied” with his work so far.
“I don’t want to do 10 films where I am just there on screen,” Barmecha said. “Whatever I do, I want to put all my energy and heart into it. So, that is why I don’t do everything that comes to me.”
Following Udaan and a cameo in Bejoy Nambiar’s Shaitan (2011), Barmecha acted in Disco Valley, a buddy comedy directed by Sajit Warrier that never made it to theatres. There was also a supporting role in the forgettable erotic-action movie Warrior Savitri (2016). More notable were his short films, including the National Film Award-winning The Finish Line (2011) directed by Akshay Roy of Meri Pyaari Bindu (2017) fame.
“I am not PR-savvy,” Barmecha said. “I don’t do many public appearances. I don’t go to parties. I have my set of friends. And I travel a lot.” He had elaborated on this in a passionate Facebook post in June 2017, in which he explained why he wanted to be choosy with his roles. He wrote that though he had been appreciated for Udaan, all the offers that followed were from people who wanted to make “another Udaan, another Delhi Belly or another Dil Chahta Hai”. So, he opted to wait for meatier offers instead of taking up something just for money. When he did take up offers purely for financial reasons, “they turned out to be real bad”, he wrote.
So what kind of roles had he been waiting for, and what were the kind of films he rejected? “Rejection is a harsh word,” Barmecha said. “I just apologise and decline the offers. So, for example, if it is a Shahrukh Khan or a Salman Khan movie, and I am also there, then if my character is not doing or contributing much, then I don’t want to be a part of it. My character should have some meaning and value. I have said no to a lot of films like these and some of them have been released.”
“Also, I like to do lead roles,” he added. “If it is a lead role, I look at a project as my own and I can contribute more to it.”
Barmecha said he never thought of doing films just to appear to be working consistently. “I don’t have to be visible,” Barmecha said. “My work can be visible enough to get me the kind of stuff I want to do. If I wanted visibility, I can go to 10 parties and get pictures clicked or get articles about me published in 10 places but I don’t want that.”
Barmecha wasn’t always that reticent – it was the lure of fame and money that drew him to acting. Growing up in Delhi, Barmecha and his siblings, Vicky and Ritu (who are also in the film industry) were obsessed with celebrity gossip and Page 3 scoops. That brought Barmecha to Mumbai. Shortly after, Udaan happened, and his plans changed. “I had the image of a Bollywood hero in my mind and I wanted to do acting just for the fame and money,” Barmecha said. “But after I did Udaan and met people like Vikramaditya Motwane and Anurag Kashyap, I fell in love with the craft rather than the fame and money part of it.”
But in an expensive city like Mumbai, wouldn’t it be hard for an upcoming actor to be very choosy? “My needs are not too much,” Barmecha explained. “I am not materialistic. I have a comfortable life. Whatever I need, I have. I don’t need a Rolls Royce. Luckily, Bollywood pays me enough for one project. Good money comes into your account from just one project and you can survive for a long time. I don’t have the pressure of things like money.”