Raj Bal is easily one of the most sought after corporate lawyers in Mollywood, based in Dubai. The Kannur native is in the process of signing with some of Malayalam’s top directors. His role as the ruthless Vice-Chancellor Pavan Shetty in the hit movie “Jana Gana Mana” starring Prithviraj and Suraj Venjaramoodu earned him the recognition he deserves. Speaking to Onmanorama, the actor, who was last seen in ‘Kaduva’, said he always wanted to be in movies but waited for the right time to take the plunge.
How did the movies fit into your busy schedule as a corporate lawyer?
I always wanted to be in films as a teenager. I was running around participating in single acts and plays. Although I loved acting, I decided to pursue films only after I got a steady job. I got my law degree and then quickly joined a law firm in Dubai so I could marry the love of my life. I have been practicing corporate law since 1996. Then one day in 2016, my friend introduced me to the directors of ‘King Liar’ (Siddique-Lal) who were looking for someone with a ‘corporate look’ for their film. I had a combination scene with Dileep in the movie.
Was ‘King Liar’ the break you were waiting for?
Yes and no. My role was small but noticeable. My dormant dreams of working in films then took off. I started participating in several auditions. Most of them were online, but I also had to fly to Kochi several times. However, I feel lucky because it was not difficult for me to find opportunities. Probably, if I had tried my luck in films in the 1990s, I think it would have been very difficult for me to get the roles that I get now.
In such a short time you have worked with some of the biggest names in Mollywood?
Yes, apart from Mollywood, I would also audition for Bollywood commercials. It gave me my big break. I was lucky enough to have done commercials with Mollywood giants like Mohanlal and Bollywood stars like Hrithik Roshan and Anil Kapoor. Even for films, I didn’t hesitate to audition for the big production houses. I worked with Nivin Pauly in the film ‘Mikhael’ and Fahadh Faasil in ‘Take Off’ among others.
Could you tell us a bit more about your association with Bollywood actors?
My first film in Bollywood was Anil Kapoor, Salman Khan-star of ‘Race 3’. I was part of the opening scene of the film. Since then, there has been no turning back. I have a good role in Shahid Kapoor’s upcoming film ‘Bloody Daddy’ directed by Ali Abbas Zafar. The movie has a lot of action.
Do you have a diverse profile when you only have six years of experience in the cinema?
Over the years, I have been able to take on many different roles. I think my distinct look has worked in my favor a lot. I played a forensic officer, a priest, a policeman, a henchman, a corporate and immigration agent, etc. People say I fit into roles easily because of my looks and that makes me happy. Also, after my role in ‘Malik’, I get a lot of offers to do intense roles. Many filmmakers have told me that I can play very well with my eyes.
How is it after ‘Jana Gana Mana’?
I have been associated with Dijo who directed ‘Jana Gana Mana’ since I worked together in a Kairali TMT commercial. I play Pavan Shetty, a college vice-chancellor in the film. I must say that at first I was a little nervous to have to play a role with Mamtha, who plays Professor Saba who fights for justice for her students in the film. However, I was upset when she told me that she had trouble performing because of my intense performance. After ‘Jana Gana Mana’, I feel like a lot more people recognize me when I’m traveling on the train or going out shopping.
Your next films?
I played a politician in ‘Kaduva’. I will soon be seen in ‘Ini Utharam’, ‘Soul Mates’, ‘Enthada Saji’ and an untitled film by Nivin Pauly-Rosshan Andrews. I’m also headlining ‘Scene 62’ in Tamil. Although I am associated with Bollywood, I would like to stay in Mollywood and Tamil. This is where I want to be. Also, my biggest wish now is to play a role of ‘naadan’ (local guy) in Malayalam soon.
How do you manage your career and personal life?
My wife Anju is also a corporate lawyer. My children Nanda are 15 and Daya is 20. I quit my full-time job as a lawyer in 2018 and now focus on freelancing as I am expected to be on set films, in a short time. I feel like I can focus on movies a lot more now.