Ranbir Kapoor revealed that he lived with a Jat family in Pitam Pura and "studied…
Rahul Bose has been anything but a conventional ‘Bollywood actor’ after making his debut English August in 1994, an adaptation of Upamanyu Chatterjee’s best-selling novel. Moving on from there, he made his presence felt in mainstream Bollywood for the first time when he went toe to toe with a brooding Ajay Devgn in Thakshak. Since then, he’s made a name for himself playing lead roles in a lot of unconventional movies, from Saket Chaudhary’s Pyaar Ke Side Effects to Samar Khan’s Shaurya which was a remake of Aaron Sorkin’s A Few Good Men. Bose managed to hold his own in front of a point-blank explosive performance by Kay Kay Menon.
Now, after his much-appreciated performance in Zoya Akhtar’s Dil Dhadakne Do, Bose has taken on direction to bring the extraordinary story of mountaineer Malavath Poorna who climbed to the summit of Mount Everest at the age of 13, becoming the youngest ever to make the climb to the highest peak in the world. We spoke to him about his sophomore directorial venture and his evolving choices as an actor. Here are excerpts from the conversation with Rahul Bose:
The three things that consume me in this world are sport, cinema and social activism. With Poorna, it was perfect because it ticked all the three boxes, where it was cinema obviously, it’s adventure sport of the highest kind which is mountaineering, and it is the story of a girl who is poor, an adivasi (tribal) from Telangana, who makes the most astonishing journey from a hut in Telangana to the top of Mt Everest at the tender age of 13. You can’t make this kind of a story up. If I had written a Bollywood film like that, people would’ve said Bollywood exaggerates too much. Why couldn’t they make her at least 16 to make it believable? So it was a win, win, win for me in all three categories.
The short answer is yes. You think I’m a mad man? Or a egotistical maniac to not realise what I was aiming for? This story is a journey story, which starts in Poorna’s real hut in Pakala, Telangana where temperatures soar to 50 degrees, and ends at the top of the Everest; the footage we have from the summit is going to blow your socks off. But to answer your question, I had budgeted for everything.
You can never be sold on an actor who is acting for the first time. It was always going to be a gamble. What I was basically looking for in the girl who would play Poorna was resilience under pressure. Someone who had the terrific empathy, and Aditi definitely had these two. It wasn’t an easy audition, I read with her for two hours, and before that we chatted about life, death, about family. I wanted to see if she had the sensitivity and the resilience. And then when we began shooting, if the audition was x in terms of difficulty, the shoot was 50x. She was assailed with difficulties, but I kept on telling her she was doing great. It was only a matter of how great.
Everyone has highs and lows, and it’s a cyclical thing. It’s not that you suddenly become a bad actor. It’s a question of what is in vogue at that moment. There were a set of films which I would call ‘Versova Noir’ which emerged about a decade ago. So I rode a very long cycle from English August in 1994 to Shaurya in 2009. After that I started making choices which began marginalising me, but I was enjoying those roles.
Ranbir is making a distinction here. Stars are the most insecure beings. Actors are not. Ask any of the good actors like Nawaz (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), Irrfan if they’re insecure about their skill-set. Stars are insecure because their fortunes depend on the whims and the fancies of people they don’t know. Ask Ranbir if he feels like a lesser actor today because of two flops, and he’ll say obviously not.
I don’t necessarily chase people down if I want to work with them. But I’ve often expressed it out loud and repeatedly if I want to work with filmmakers. Be it Ketan Mehta, Sudhir (Mishra), Zoya, Dibakar (Banerjee), even Aparna Sen who I’ve worked with quite a lot. The problem with us is we don’t say it out loud too often, considering ego problems. But I’ve never held back like that.
There’s a web series that I’ve been offered, which is a lead role. And I think web series is the future. I believe something like Netflix is gonna open up more avenues in India, there are gonna be more players like that and then eventually after a shake-out, there will be two or three survivors. And the material that I have received has been written in a very sharp style like Dil Dhadakne Do. Obviously, high-speed internet being a prerequisite, this will not be for the masses. It’s the right time and I’m just waiting to see who the others are who sign up for it.
Any of the roles in Ship of Theseus. Maybe a few years down the line, Neeraj Kabi’s role. Maybe quite a few years down the line (laughs). But it’s such a brilliant film.
It’s important to know the film is not a climbing film. It’s about a young adivasi girl’s journey from a hut in Telangana to the summit of the Everest. I want you to feel the awe of the journey, about how incredible the journey has been for her. And what can be accomplished by sheer human spirit.