Mumbai: Actor Rahul Bagga packed his bags and moved to Mumbai in 2007 from New Delhi. Having actively been a part of theatre group Act 1 run by N.H. Sharma for over seven years, Rahul instinctly knew his dream of being an actor in films would be realised in the city of dreams.
His latest release Mastram is getting mixed reviews, however Rahul seems unperturbed. He talks to us about why Mastram is an important film, and why he’s not afraid of failure.
Rahul has known Akhilesh Jaiswal (director of Mastram) since the time he was shooting for Anurag Kashyap’s production Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana, so when Akhilesh offered him the lead role in Mastram, Rahul was excited. He then asked Akhilesh how he intended to present the film. “When he told me about his vision of the film, I was convinced. He wasn’t trying to cash in on sex or the porn factor of Mastram. He wanted to tell this person’s life which bowled me over,” he shares.
And when it came to prepare for the role, Rahul admits he had endless discussions with the director. He says, “Mastram was a pen name, we still don’t know who the real person was. For me, it was a chance to start on a clean slate. We built up this character slowly, and gave life to the person on the screen. I used to brainstorm with Akhilesh how we can develop it further without making him look cheap. We didn’t want to make him seem lecherous. He didn’t look at a woman as a sex object. Aspiring to be a writer, circumstances force him to turn to erotic writing. I wanted the audience to empathise with him.”
Though the film has got an A-certificate, Rahul wants families to come for the movie. “Families should come and watch the film because they will know how he was pressurised to become a porn writer. Meanwhile, it’s the hyprocritical society, which enjoys such novels in private, that shuns him once they come to know he has written the novels. There’s nothing bad or cheap in the film. The same TV channels post 11 pm have adult content on their channels, so when this titillation is watched and acknowledged, why don’t we accept that there are porn writers,” he asks.
Making a mark in Mumbai isn’t easy for anyone, especially without a godfather. Rahul had to be patient and worked on TV briefly. He appeared in the popular Jago re ad campaign and YRF Television’s Powder and Kismat. “I had to take baby steps before I started getting offers in films. I wasn’t keen on doing TV, but when I got to know that YRF is venturing into TV with their maiden production Powder, I went for the audition. YRF is synonymous with quality content, and it’s for this reason altogether I accepted their second mini series Kismat, which was roughly inspired by Kane and Abel. Kismat allowed me to show my acting skill. I got plenty of offers on television after that, but since my focus is films, I said no to all.”
Rahul wants to explore every genre in films and he has a wishlist of directors he wants to work with. He says, “I want to be challenged as an actor. I am not afraid of failure. I want to fail and rise again. I don’t know if all of my films will be hits, or my role will be justified, but I am more concerned about my journey as an actor. The length of the role may not matter, but it should be a part of the conflict in the movie. Topping the list of those I really want to work with are Anurag Kashyap, Yashraj Films, Imtiaz Ali, Vishal Bharadwaj, the list is unending.”