Love keeps me motivated ”“ actor Rahul Bose

By Neeru Saluja

Actor Rahul Bose chooses his words carefully, just as he chooses his work. When he speaks about his acting, direction, social causes or rugby, it reveals a candid, focussed and intriguing person who is passionate about what he does.

Known as the ”˜superstar of Indian art house cinema’, Bose’s filmography boasts of films such as ”˜Mr and Mrs Iyer’, English August, Jhankaar Beats, Pyaar ke Side Effects, Bombay Boys, Dil Dhadakne Do, Poorna and Everybody Says I’m Fine. He has now returned to acting after a hiatus of two years with debutante director Anvita Dutt’s Bulbbul streaming on Netflix, where he plays the role of twin brothers. Set in early 20th century in Bengal, the films looks at the legend of a witch through the story of a child bride.

Rahul, as an actor for you it’s important that the story should have the essence of humanism and not glorify hatred. Bulbbul shows the horrors of patriarchy twisted with a supernatural element. What aspect of Bulbbul were you drawn into?

I normally have five parameters for accepting a role. One is the story, is it engaging, interesting and entertaining. The second factor is what is my role and am I interested in playing someone like this. The third factor is: does my character drive the film? If my character wasn’t there in the film, would the film be crippled? Fourth is, who are my co-actors? Because acting is about reacting and you have to work off other actors. You cannot work in a vacuum and expect to hold the film up if other actors are weak. Finally, the director. Amrita, being a first time director, as an actor you always look for vision and passion. Because she has been in the industry for years and has written films and lyrics, she is lot more film educated. She is an atheist, emotionally intelligent and compassionate human being, which made the experience rich. So, there you go, the film ticked all my parameters.

While portraying the twin act of Mahendra and Indranil ”“ how did you shift your paradigm between both the characters who are so different and yet so alike?

I didn’t approach the film as I was playing a double role. I approached the film as I was playing two different characters. My approach to any character or film I do and I’ve done 39 of them, is I do the biography of the character from the age of zero to the time the movie starts. The school they went to, the home life, their family life, friends, musical taste, sexual preferences and experiences, hobbies, passions, I visualised all of it in my mind. That’s how I approached both characters. The similarities between the two are not so evident but the similarity is of entitlement. Indranil is a zamindar ”“ no one says no to him. Mahendra has never been told he cannot have anything. He is like a child trapped in a body of a 40-year-old. Both the roles were a handful. I never went into the trap of playing double roles, I just played two characters who are in two different stories.

You are also a strong believer in gender equality, what message does Bulbbull leave with the audience?

The chief message I take is do not wait to die to assert yourself. True feminism is when a woman is successful, loved and celebrated and yet fights for every single thing. You don’t have to be pushed in a corner to become strong.

As an actor, director and producer who strongly believes in quality content and staying away from mainstream cinema, is OTT a platform where you see your future?

Every single platform ”“ be it cinema, television or OTT platforms or theatre on stage, every single avenue has good players and mediocre players in that particular medium. It all depends on who curates good content.

At 52, “everybody says I’m fine”. But your metabolic system says, ”˜I’m great!’ What keeps you motivated?

Love! Love keeps me motivated. I love acting, I love direction even more, I love playing rugby, I love doing for whatever I can in sport for this country, specifically for women. I love the work my foundation does with our kids in Kashmir, Manipur and Andamans. There is nothing in my life that I do, that I do not love. People tend to think I’m choosy and what I think of myself. But I’m not going to do anything that I don’t love.

The movies chosen by you have mostly not been mainstream movies. They have been movies with a meaning, a message and a soul. What makes you choose such movies over movies which otherwise would be seen by the masses?

My life, my aesthetics and my values. The entire ecosystem in me determines the choices I make. The choices I make are just a fraction of who this guy is. They come straight from my value system.

There are lot of aspirants in the industry. What would be the mantra for them who do not come with a film lineage to succeed in this industry?

Act, act, act ”“ never stop acting. Act on the stage, act on the street, act on YouTube, act on a selfie. Do not look left, right, up or down. There is enough space and more for anyone. I have been in this industry for 27 years and have not been required to go to anyone for work. There must be something magical about this place. Keep acting and if you are good, the light will shine on you. Today with the digital platform, you can do your own solo monologues and become a star within a year. Just cut out all the noise and negative people. Just keep acting and get better at your craft. Open your soul and if you are talented no one will stop you.










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