“In today’s times, if an actor is not able to get in even 70% crowd, he is out” – Rahul Bose

Rahul Bose – A cursory utterance of the name gives a synonym – Multiplex. And the actor has a neat body of work like English August, Thakshak, Everybody Says I’m Fine! , Mr and Mrs Iyer, Jhankaar Beats and Chameli. Although Thakshak and Chameli can be considered more mainstream due to the presence of senior Bollywood stars, his image as India’s premier actor of the alternative cinema finds concurrence across the world.

Rahul’s social concerns occupy an equally important space in his consciousness. Primary amongst these has been his unrelenting, post-Tsunami efforts in the Andaman and Nicobar islands. Another key area of his focus is communal harmony and gender equality.

In a piquant twist to the tale, Rahul is also a member of the Indian rugby team, having represented the country ever since its recognition as an official rugby-playing nation by the International Rugby Board in 1998.

Businessofcinema.com ‘s Rohini Bhandari had a tête – e -tête with Rahul Bose about his forthcoming release Pyaar Ke Side/Effects, his experience with the princess of oomph Mallika Sherawat and about the changing face of Bollywood.

Tell us something about your forthcoming film Pyaar Ke Side/ Effects?
I am the man of the woman in Pyaar Ke Side/ Effects. It is a romantic comedy about a guy who is seeing his girlfriend since 3 years, the girl is now looking forward to a marriage but the guy is not ready for a commitment. It is one of the finest scripts I have read till date. It is so contemporarily comic.

I play a DJ in the film and since I have never tried my hand at DJing before this, I had to learn some fundamental stuff.The script was ready almost 2 years ago but due to lack of money, we waited.

How was your experience sharing screen space with Mallika Sherawat?
She has a natural flair for comedy so she suited the role perfectly. As far as me working with her is concerned, well, why should it make any difference to me. As long as I get a good feel about my co actor, I am fine. So when I was told that Mallika will be starring opposite me it had become necessary for me to get to know her and then everything went off rather slickly.

After doing a film like Thakshak, Silsiilay and working with Mallika Sherawat, do you think you are gradually heading towards commercial films?
No no not at all!! If I do one such film, I do 5 more art films. Once in 3-4 years it becomes necessary to do a film like Thakshak, Jhankaar Beats or Pyaar Ke Side /Effects in order to keep reviving my acting muscles. I will still not dance around trees and do anything that is futile to me.

Do you think the face of Bollywood is changing?
Bollywood hasn’t progressed much. The formula still remains the same but the music, costumes, locations change. There is still very little integrity in Bollywood. Bollywood still remains the same old Bollywood. In fact I would say that it has taken a few steps backwards since the 50’s or 60’s. Just imagine what rage a Guru Dutt film will be if it is released in today’s times. Just marketing the films well doesn’t mean that your film is a hit. Where is the content?

Do you think the multiplex audience is a big market in today’s time?
Yes, it is a big market and is definitely growing in number. The mass of the single screens and B and C centers are decreasing gradually.

So is this multiplex audience of advantage to your films?
Yes definitely, this audience is very niche and my films appeal to them. Moreover in a multiplex screen with 200 seats it is not difficult to rope in 70% crowd which is around 140 to 150 people.

But it is tough to get even 50 – 60% audience in a single screen which has capacity of almost 600 seats. So I think the multiplex audience is of aid to me. And in today’s times, if an actor is not able to get in even 70% crowd, he is out.

Does business of your films interest you?
Not in the least. My job is to act and it ends there. But yes, when I made Everybody Says I’m Fine, I followed up with its business till the last rupee.

Why is it that you work with a lot of first time directors?
It’s their passion and innocence that appeals to me. It gives me immense joy to see a smile on their faces when their film does well. Moreover their scripts have an element of truth in them. For instance, I did White Noise because I believed in the script – if a girl gets drunk and abusive it doesn’t mean that she is a slut. It is very important for this message to go around. We should stop stereotyping people.

What are your future films as an actor?
I am doing Buddhadeb Dasgupta’s Kaalpurush with Mithun Chakraborthy and Sameera Reddy, in which I am playing a die-hard romantic who has a broken marriage. This film has a Satyajit Ray feel to it. Then there is The Whisperers, a Hollywood film, an Oriya film and one more Bangla film which is set in the 1937 era and is about 4 friends.

You have done an ad with Titan, do you believe in endorsing brand?
There is nothing to believe in it. I have a respect for the brand Xylys. Titan is a world class trusted brand of watches and that is the reason I did an ad with them. And as long as they do not expect anything non sensible out of me why should I not endorse a brand.

The media has labeled you a snob. Why do you feel have they drawn this conclusion?
I don’t know why they think of me like this. But of course there is no smoke without fire. I am straight forward and I believe in myself. If someone will ask me an asinine question I will tell them that you are asking me an asinine question. I can’t go out and please others all the time. If they had said something like this 10 years back when I was younger and believed that attitude equals class, it would still have been ok. But now neither do I feel positive about it nor negative. Either you live according to your rules or you keep pleasing others.

Are you directing a film sometime soon?
Oh yes, my next directorial venture is based on a book and should be ready sometime next year.

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Rohini Bhandari

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