Although Sairat star Rinku Rajguru is barely 18, she is the top-billed actor in her second Marathi film, Kaagar. Directed by Makarand Mane, of National Award-winning Ringan (2017) fame, the April 26 release is a political drama revolving around “social issues”, but has a “good love story”, Rajguru told Scroll.in.
“After Sairat, I got a lot of offers from everywhere, Marathi and Hindi, but having done a good, big film like Sairat, I wanted my next film to be something equally worth it, so that people learn something from the movie,” said Rajguru, who will turn 18 in June.
Kaagar (Tipping Point) explores love, political ambition and violence in small-town Maharashtra. Rajguru plays Rani, who belongs to a politically influential family and gets embroiled in power games along with her husband, Yuvraj (Shubhankar Tawde). Rani becomes a vital player, with the trailer suggesting that she embraces a life in politics.
“There’s a lot, lot, lot in it,” Rajguru said about the film, mindful of not revealing the story accidentally. “My character has a lot of shades.”
Rajguru was 14 when she shot for Nagraj Manjule’s Sairat in 2016. Rajguru and fellow debutant Akash Thosar played lovers who are torn apart by caste-based prejudice. Sairat went on to become the highest-grossing Marathi film ever and spawned several remakes, including Dhadak in Hindi in 2018, which drew criticism for stripping the original of its politics and social context.
“I did see the Hindi version,” Rajguru said. “Well, what can I say? We made Sairat our way and they made it according to what they felt was right.”
Rajguru reprised her Sairat role in the Kannada remake, Manasu Malligey (2017). “They insisted I do it though I asked them to take a girl who can speak Kannada,” Rajguru said. “I gave in in the end, and it was a lovely learning experience.”
Life changed irrevocably after Sairat for the teenager from Solapur. Rajguru’s performance was widely appreciated, and she won a special mention at the 63rd National Film Awards.
“When I received the National Award, my parents broke down,” she recalled. “For them, this girl who was nobody had made it big. They have been the pillar of strength in my journey.”
Rajguru now divides her time between Solapur and Pune. She had to quit formal schooling after being thronged by crazed fans following Sairat’s success, and has continued her education privately, appearing for her twelfth standard examinations this year. “Education is just as important,” Rajguru noted.
Stardom is as welcome as it is unnerving for the prodigious adolescent. “I miss my old life, and I haven’t even enjoyed college yet,” Rajguru said. “I enjoy the fan following, however. Many people put their entire lives into this profession and find nothing. I got it easily and cherish what comes with it. I take all of it positively. I try to meet and talk to everyone and go to all places.”
Being an accessible star at such a young age is hardly easy: “I always have a bodyguard with me after stepping out of the house, or else I get mobbed.”
That said, being the object of desire for young men across Maharashtra has its moments. “I get lots of fan letters, many of which are marriage proposals,” Rajguru revealed. “They send pictures, and while some are serious, others are just random. I feel funny thinking that they want to marry such a young girl. The letters are from guys around, say, 21-25.”
Rajguru has already earned her fair share of fame, but she has other concerns on her mind. “I am still new and have to learn so much about acting,” she said. “I want to continue being natural, focus on being fit, read more books, observe how people behave.”
Among her favourites is Sridevi. “I am a huge, huge fan,” she said. “She is such a natural entertainer and there’s such a strong sense of warmth in her acting. My favourite film of hers is Sadma.”
Like Sridevi, will Rajguru too cross over to Hindi films? “Not for the sake of it, but yes, if it’s a good film and a good character,” she said.