One would assume Rinku Rajguru's current concern would be how to handle her enormous success, chart out a career map or make sure the fame does not slip away; but the "Sairat" breakout star is worried about something that any other 17-year-old in the country is -- the upcoming exams result.
"I want to do great work but first I want to finish my education," Rinku says, dismissing any 'where do I see myself in five-year' plan.
"I am waiting for my result now. I am not scared. I had studied well and the papers were good too. But I think now it is too late to be scared anyway."
Rinku rose to fame after her poignant debut in Nagraj Manjule's "Sairat" that cut through the audience beyond any language barrier.
The 2016 film not only bagged her a National Award but thanks to streaming platforms, found her an audience across the world.
Three years later, the actor says her life has turned "upside down".
"No one knew me earlier, my life was all about studies and then suddenly the film releases and people from every corner knew me," Rinku told PTI in an interview.
"Even those, who didn't understand or speak Marathi, started to recognise me. The love that I am receiving, I couldn't have even dreamt of it."
Hailing from Akluj, a small town in Maharashtra, Rinku was just 15-year-old when Manjule's film, about two young lovers who become victims of honour killing stemmed from deep-rooted casteism, released.
Back then, Rinku says, she was convinced she would not bag the film. After all, she was just a "young village girl".
But fate had other plans, and much like her character Archi, Rinku Rajguru was unprepared but not scared about what life had in store.
"I was not scared when the overnight fame happened. I had no inkling how the film would just blow up and we would be recognised all over. I am grateful for the success which has come my way."
The actor says the road for her now, is to work "responsibly" and choose stories which tell the audience that "Sairat" was not a fluke.
"I want to treasure my success, keep it safe and be responsible. But fame has not scared me. I still behave the same with people, I still haven't changed as a person.
"That's because I don't think about stardom, I get very awkward when people treat me like that (a grown-up star). I tell them, I am still young, please treat me as such."
While many expected her to do a quick follow up to her debut, Rinku says she was comfortable to wait even ten years to bag the right script.
The wait, however, was shorter as she is already gearing up for the release of her next, "Kaagar", which mirrors the kind of art she wants to invest and feature in.
"After 'Sairat' I had many offers and several people told me to make the most out of it. But I felt my follow up should be equally good. No one can do 'Sairat' again, but we can do something powerful and so I decided to wait."
Written and directed by Makarand Mane and presented by Viacom 18 Motion Pictures, "Kaagar" is set to release on April 26.
"The film had everything I wanted to do. It is such a powerful and inspiring story. What got me was the way it deals with issues and just how powerful the female character was written," she says.
For Rinku, the nervousness of going back on a film set after a gap of three years amplified as the first day of "Kaagar" was shot in her own village.
Calling it equal parts "amusing and scary," the actor says, "It was so crowded. Everyone came to meet me and Makarand because he is also from the same village."
The experience also showed her a contrast in how people view her. The ones enamoured by the 'star' in her simply want a picture, while people back home want to know the person behind the stardom.
"Often people just want to click a picture. They click a selfie and go, they don't want to talk. But in my village, people wanted to talk to me.
"They would bless me, get me home cooked food and ask how am I doing. These things keep me grounded, remind me that I still need to learn so much, work with everyone and make sure, first, to get good grades in my exams."
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