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Wednesday, February 16, 2000

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Going Solo

He has always felt like he doesn't belong. Whether in London or in Bollywood, Rahul Bose is always the outsider, he tells Rajeev Masand

So, dividing time between London and Mumbai, he says, is best for him. "Apart from geographical mobility, if there's financial one too, it's good," he says. The statement springs from his and his father's monetary-stability because of Rahul's acting assignments. "My lifestyle hasn't changed in the past ten years of my acting career," says Rahul, revealing that television helps bring in some decent money. "A man cannot survive on one Thakshak and a Split Wide Open alone," he argues, and slips into third person immediately. "If you do something like a Great Escape or a Style on television, then that just about pays for your house rent and monthly expenses."

He then ponders for a moment. For second thoughts, perhaps. "I probably give the impression of doing better financially than I am, but the reason I don't complain is because I don't have anextravagant lifestyle." Illustrating his point, Rahul admits buying a mobile phone for the first time in six years, "and only because I don't know where I'm going to be, so I need a permanent number where people can call me."

His lifestyle, in fact, matches the low financial lifestyle (in his own words). "All I do is eat a lot, I go for a run, watch a film, slip into a museum..." And even though London is essentially an expensive city, "the dichotomy of the city is such that you can walk into the National Museum and spend four days looking at the best art in the world -- it's free." Also, he mentions a cinema hall in SoHo where for a mere two pounds you could go catch a Martin Scorcese festival, which showcases everything from Mean Streets to Kundun. Even the parks are free. "If you really want to look and feel around London, it need not be expensive. But if you convert what you have spent from pounds to rupees, you are bound to feel guilty."

Back to work, Rahul's first assignment in Londonwas working on Tim Murari's play, The Square Circle, which Murari had also written in Hindi for Amol Palekar. It was called Daayra. The English stage production, in which Bose featured as a transvestite, was embraced by the Hay Market of Leicester ("easily the strongest regional theatre repertory outside of London"). Remind the actor that he has played several sexually confused characters in his career (Mouthful of Sky, BomGay, The Square Circle) and he gives it a thought before dashing off a response. "I'm not sexually confused myself, if that's what you're implying," he says, admitting, however, "that I have often been told that I seem sexually ambiguous." Later, speaking of his love life, Bose talks about his partner, who he says is based elsewhere in the world. "She's a lovely person. What else can I say?"

Then, while in London, Rahul made it a point to go backstage and meet Simon BcBurney ("perhaps the finest theatre director in the world") after his latest play, Pneumonic."I introduced myself, said I would love to work with him, and just chatted a bit," he recounts. A few days later, McBurney's office called to ask if Bose was interested in attending a workshop that the director was conducting to develop his next play. Of course, he seized the opportunity. And then Rahul spent the next few days with international actors, "all of whom had worked with Simon before. Since I was the newest, and also the only one who hadn't worked with Simon, I felt constantly sussed by others. I guess they were just curious to know who I was and why I'd been picked. I felt like an outsider." No, he is not complaining. Even here he has felt like one. "I'm certainly not a part of Bollywood, though I work extensively in this city."

While in Mumbai, Rahul says he's busy arranging finance for a film he intends to direct himself. "It's something I've written myself called Everyone Says I'm Fine. I know I want to make this movie, and I'll do everything to see it through." He's game for a bit oftheatre, "but I can't afford to be a part of a production that's going to run for a year." So the actor is sifting through offers, including one in New York, and another from Bollywood. "Ideally I want to do something that is logical," he says, insisting that he simply won't run around trees. "I'm thankful to Dev Benegal for giving me a role in Split Wide Open that's diametrically different from the one he gave me in English August. I don't want to be pigeon-holed into any one slot," he voices with finality.

Copyright © 2000 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.


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