Actor Rajkummar Rao says he wants to stay away from the comfort zone of playing to the gallery despite knowing that some of his "gestures" might impress the audience.
In his decade-long Bollywood journey, Rao has emerged as a performer known for capturing the essence of his characters -- be it his National Award-winning turn as the righteous lawyer in "Shahid" or the menacing terrorist Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh in "Omerta".
The 36-year-old actor said even though his attempt is to play regular, relatable men on screen, he avoids getting "trapped" in a certain image.
"There are times when I try and be conscious that I can''t repeat certain gestures and avoid that. I know it might work beautifully for the audience and perhaps even the scene, but I restrain myself.
"I don''t want to get into the rut of doing the same thing, repeatedly. I don''t want to be trapped," Rao told PTI in an interview.
To distinguish between his roles, the actor said he prefers to dive deep into brainstorming sessions with his directors.
Citing the examples of Vikramaditya Motwane''s "Trapped", Hansal Mehta''s "Shahid" and the upcoming "Badhaai Do", helmed by Harshavardhan Kulkarni, the actor said the depth of the character decides the amount of time he dedicates to the preparation.
But if it''s a comedy film, like his latest "Roohi", his process is more "organic."
"When you do a comedy, it''s spontaneous, you can''t force it. It''s about being there and having fun with your lines. I don''t plan anything when it comes to comedies. The trick is to surrender."
Rao returns to the horror-comedy universe, three years after the blockbuster "Stree".
With "Roohi" -- where he again plays a man in love with a woman who is apparently a witch -- the actor said he had to work hard to make his character different from what the audience would expect from the film franchise, launched by producer Dinesh Vijan.
"When producer Dinesh Vijan suggested that we do a horror-comedy, I was thrilled. I knew I had to play these two wild characters unlike anything.
"At some point, Vicky (Rao''s character in ''Stree'') and Bhawra will meet in one film. That was exciting because I''d be playing a double role. I had to play Bhawra remarkably different than Vicky, from his looks to the way he speaks."
Helmed by Hardik Mehta, "Roohi" also stars Janhvi Kapoor and Varun Sharma.
Rao is aware that the film rides on massive expectations, as it's not only one of the first major titles to release theatrically this year but also the first sequel in the horror-comedy universe.
The actor said comparisons to "Stree" would be "unfair" to his new film.
"The firsts are always special. These are different films, with new characters. I hope people don''t feel ''lets see what''s common between ''Roohi'' and ''Stree''''. I hope they see it as an independent film."
"Roohi" is slated to be released on March 11.