Sprawled on the sofa with a remote in hand, actor and social activist Rahul Bose is glued to the TV screen where a cricket match is in progress. Attired in a white T-shirt and mid-length khaki pants, he looks relaxed.
Multi-tasking appears to be the actor’s forte for he answers questions and follows the cricket match simultaneously without giving the impression that his attention is divided. Once or twice he breaks off in mid-sentence to appreciate a particularly good shot by the batsman at the crease only to return seamlessly to the conversation.
“I have loved games and sports since I was a child. Squash, running and rugby are some of the sports I regularly participate in. Rugby is the centrepiece of my existence,” says Rahul, who played for the national rugby team for ten years.
Rahul, who continues to play rugby for his club says that his romance with acting started well before his seventh birthday.
“When I was six years old I first appeared on stage. I realised that I was decent at acting and it came easy to me. I loved being someone else. People liked me and I loved the attention too,” he admits candidly.
Being involved primarily with English theatre, the Bengali actor never imagined of making it big in the film world because Indian movies are mainly made in Hindi. “However the first film I did was ‘English August.’ Then I was offered ‘Thakshak’ by Govind Nihalani which was a Hindi movie for which I had to hone my Hindi skills. Increasingly my films are in Hindi and not in English as a result of which my Hindi has improved.”
Rahul was last seen on the big screen in ‘Dil Kabbaddi’ and he’s got four back-to-back releases in 2010. “I have finished work on Aparna Sen’s ‘The Japanese Wife,’ Vipul Shah’s ‘Kuch Love Jaisa,’ Onir’s ‘I Am’ and a Sajid Warrier film. The films are ready and will be release in January, February and March.”
The actor considers himself fortunate for having worked with directors like Aparna Sen, Buddhadeb Dasgupta, Sudhir Mishra, Govind Nihalani and Santosh Sivan. Rahul’s appetite for diverse kind of cinema makes him hopeful of working with Anurag Kashyap, Vishal Bhardwaj and Mira Nair. “These are directors any actor would like to work with,” he says.
Even as Rahul has a manager in Hollywood, he claims that he appreciative of is appreciative of world cinemas as such and is not particularly enthuse about Hollywood and .
The actor’s repertoire also includes three Bengali films with ‘The Japanese Wife’ being the fourth. Of this upcoming movie, he says: “It will always remain special to me because it’s with Aparna Sen with whom I did ‘Mr. and Mrs. Iyer.’ Also this has been the toughest role in my career. There was nothing easy about this role as I had to play a rural character and speak in a rural Bengali village dialect. The character is an inward-looking one.”
Rahul who loves to experiment with different roles in reel life, refuses to be slotted as just an actor in real life. He has lent his voice to a number of causes and runs a non-government organisation called “The Foundation” which works to eradicate discrimination of all sorts.
“I began this NGO as it gives me the opportunity to be fast and flexible in intervening in any situation which I feel needs help. This way I do not have to worry if the money sent to some other NGO is landing in the right hands. I don’t have to wonder about the NGO’s political or religious leanings or if it is kosher or not,” he says. “I felt hamstrung not having my own NGO.”
“I was moved to social awareness after the 1992 Mumbai riots. I was fearful and upset. I began to educate myself and finally after Gujarat in 2002, the social awareness transformed into social activism,” confesses Rahul.
Rahul is also an ambassador for Oxfam India and he has been working on issues related to children, education and violence against women. “This year I decided to concentrate on climate change because this is an issue which is going to impact every possible sphere of life and but the poor in particular will be affected first and most.”
Climate Action Network, of which Oxfam is a member, sent the actor to Canada to speak on the politics of climate change to a Canadian audience of South Asian origin which constitutes a formidable voting bloc in the country. “I spoke of how inequitable Canada’s position is with regard to climate change. I delivered nine-ten lectures over a period of 12 days in three Canadian cities.”
As Rahul gives statistics of Indians who are likely to suffer from the climate change phenomenon it is evident that the issue is close to his heart. “The livelihoods of seven out of every 10 Indians depends on the uniformity and the predictability of weather. Fishermen, farmers and foresters are likely to be most affected and together they comprise 840 million Indians.”
“Developed countries have had 40-50 years of unbridled fossil fuel usage to develop their nations. Development is a triangle that makes up literacy, health and employment. Every country needs this triangle which entails consumption of a great deal of energy. But now that there is pollution, developed countries are demanding that developing countries should cut,” he adds.
Stating his own position as well as that of Oxfam India International and Climate Action Network, Rahul says: “Developed countries have got to cut down on emissions and invest money for research in green technology to give to developing countries.”
“India too will have to reduce its emissions,” he adds.