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That fragrance of success!

As "Chameli" kisses the big screen this week, Rahul Bose tells MONOJIT LAHIRI a thing or two about his films.

Rahul Bose... Carving out his own niche in parallel cinema.

SHORT, EVEN stocky and hardly boasting conventional movie-star looks, Rahul Bose is probably the last person on earth one would imagine being described as "The Amitabh Bachchan of Multiplexes"! But that is exactly what the gifted actor's status is today. "English August", "Bombay Boys", "Split Wide Open", "Everybody Says I Am Fine", "Jhankar Beats", "Mumbai Matinee" and now "Chameli"... Bose appears to be to new cinema what Naseeruddin Shah was to parallel cinema and the Big B to the mega commercial stuff!

The advertisement guy started out with theatre. Dev Benegal's "English August" just happened with one thing leading to another. It was an exciting time with English films being the flavour of the day and Rahul Bose suddenly finding himself at the right place at the right time. Not all of it was great, but Rahul managed to stand out in each one of these projects. Of special mention are "Split Wide Open", "Jhankar Beats" and "Mr and Mrs Iyer".

Interestingly, when this serious, thinking actor was signed on to play Rishi, the happy-go-lucky guy in "Jhankar Beats", most were convinced he would be a dud-show. However, he let fly a super performance, full of charm, energy, and fun, completely bowling everyone over and attracting 28 film offers, of which he vetoed 27!

"All the films wanted me to do variations of `Jhankar Beats'. For me, repetition is death! My kick is to explore terrains I haven't been to and bring it to life, with the power and truth that comes from within. I must be either excited or curious."

He has done films, which are as diverse as "Mr and Mrs Iyer", "Jhankar Beats" and "Mumbai Matinee"! How did he manage to pull all of them off so convincingly?

"I guess it is a combination of the script, the director's vision and passion and my own scope in the film's overall perspective. Aparna Sen is a hugely gifted director who brought to the table a rare sensitivity, cinematic knowledge and social concern along with total integrity. It was wonderful playing Raja, who is perhaps a character quite close to me as a person. `Jhankar Beats' was a blast and the challenge was to do something so diametrically different from `Mr and Mrs Iyer'."

Recalls Rahul, "Yeah, it was tough because I had never done anything so frivolous and totally fun before. I am relieved it worked with the audience! `Mumbai Matinee' again was a great role, which offered me a trip to a place I had never been. Playing a slightly neurotic 32-year-old virgin, dying to get it over and done with, but failing miserably at every step, was going to be interesting. Besides, beneath the comedy and slapstick lay pathos and irony, along with a commentary of our hypocritical society, making it charged in an understated way, sensitive and complex. It was a very urban film, in a Woody Allenesque kind of way."

As this goes into print, Rahul Bose has wrapped up yet another film, "Chameli", co-starring hot and happening Kareena Kapoor! The film is scheduled to be released this Friday. What was the experience like?

"Great! I think Kareena realised that this film is not a Bollywood biggie and conformed to the needs of the script investing her role with energy and spontaneity, which I believe are her hallmarks. She was extremely attentive and professional right through, totally committed to the task in hand".

As of now, Rahul Bose, has written the screenplay of a "psychological thriller" which is being directed by someone else and titled, "Whispers". He is also all set to direct a film about two people from different worlds, who never meet, talk or touch, yet share a unique and inexplicable bond. It has attracted the attention of Hollywood honchos and could be a Indo-US funded collaboration...

Keep grooving... The future has just walked in!

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