Interview: Celesti Bairagey of Rajjo says, ‘being Alia Bhatt’s doppelganger is not my identity, it’s problematic’

Remember Alia Bhatt’s look-alike Celesti Bairagey who went viral for her resemblance with the actor? She is back in the news and not just for looks. Celesti, who has now bagged her first television show, Udti Ka Naam Rajjo has moved to Mumbai and is chasing her dreams, one day at a time. In a conversation with Hindustan Times, the young actor shared her happiness: “This feels like a dream to me. At times when I come home after work, I still can’t believe I’m living my dream.”

After her Instagram reel on Alia Bhatt‘s line from Gangubai Kathiawadi went viral, Celesti landed her first acting break as Rajjo, a gifted athlete in the show. So, how is she finding the industry as a newcomer? “In reels, you get to be there for 15-30 seconds. In a show, each episode consists of 30 minutes. That too if you are lead then you will have 15 mins. These 15 secs and 15 mins make a huge difference.”

Celesti shot her first schedule of the show in Kullu and Manali in Uttarakhand. Recalling her experience, she added, “I am always excited to come back to work the next day. I have a family here with me on the sets. I know because they took care of me when we were in Manali; it was around minus one degree Celsius and zero.”

“We shot a scene where I had to get myself drenched in the rain. The water used for it was taken from the glacier. It was chilling cold. I wasn’t able to utter a dialogue in the scene because of the cold. My lines were later dubbed. And the most amazing thing was, everyone was there with me, to comfort and help me. Someone got me hot water or black coffee. Our DOP (cinematographer) switched on some lights to generate heat,” she said while counting every blessing.

The 23-year-old actor hails from Duliajan in Assam. Sharing her first impression of Mumbai, she candidly said, “It was me and my father who came to Mumbai for my mock film shoot. So, we were traveling to our hotel from the airport. During that time, I noticed how everything was different. Assam is a hilly area. The houses and landscape vary a lot. Mumbai is a metro city. Back there we have a single line train-track which itself ends where the hills begin. Here we got the metro going above our heads. I could see skyscrapers. I was like ‘yeh kaha aa gaye hai (where have we come)’. I know Mumbai is a part of India and not that I haven’t seen it in movies and pictures, but of course, the real-life experience is something different.”

When asked about any particular cultural shock in the fast-paced life of the maximum city, Celesti answered with a smile, “Maybe it’s too soon to judge now. Whenever a new family is moving into colonies or housing in Assam, people go and visit them. We interact with them and say things like ‘where are you from, what do you do.’ Almost for 1-2 months, that person doesn’t have to cook anything at their house. We get them food as a gesture. When I shifted to a flat here in Mumbai, I remember my neighbour’s door was wide open. They could actually see someone new moving in but they did not even smile. I can’t generalize it.”

(Also read: Alia Bhatt’s doppelganger Celesti Bairagey lands first TV show,

Celesti enjoys immense popularity on social media. While a lot has changed for her, she is still referred to as ‘Alia Bhatt 2.0’ by many fans on the internet. Is she ready to move on from the label? “Even before I got the show, I wouldn’t want to be identified as someone else. Alia is my favorite actor. I admire her a lot. I find her cute. If someone is saying that I resemble her, I find it overwhelming. Up to that, it’s fine. But the moment it starts converting your identity, it becomes problematic. I don’t think anyone wants it. I would be very happy if people start calling me Rajjo instead of Alia. Because being Rajjo is my identity and not someone’s doppelganger.”

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