Posted by Vivek on May 27, 2013 | No Comments

The most amazingly beautiful, from an Indian perspective, in Cannes 2013, did not happen on the red carpet, it unfolded on the screen, in Anurag’s UGLY. The acting in this film was of a level rarely seen. Some solid performances by every member of the cast. Here we catch up, in Cannes, with Rahul Bhatt, who has a second innings in Bollywood, with this film and what a return from a self imposed exile. Over the “star” of the moment, in Cannes:

How did the acting bug bite?

Ever since I can recall there was complete clarity in my mind that I wanted to act. I got an early start, at age 18, with the Sony Entertainment produced, HEENA. This had a very successful run. Movies followed with Umesh Mehra’s, Yeh Mohabattein and then later, Nayee Padosan. But cinema also left me unsatisfied, it was different then, not many multiplexes, the same song and dance, traditional hero, villain roles and masala films……

So you bid  goodbye to acting?

I did say goodbye to  acting in films for a while, but entertainment was still a part of me and I enjoy that. Hence I set up a production shop, called Film Tonic, producing Television software for Zee TV, Doordarshan.

And then along comes Anurag Kashyap, your former neighbor?

He catches me out of the blue, says that he has a role which only I can do. He does not want to cast a star, since the star will bring a fixed image, he does not want to cast an absolute newcomer, cause he is not sure that person will be able to pull it off, without overacting, so my character in UGLY is narrated to me and I am on board.

Challenging role, how did you pull it off, without  the regular over acting, one generally sees in these kinds of roles?

Combination of a super director and my hard work. Yes, it was a tough role, very difficult. Very different from whom I am, I am a naturally happy person. The challenge was to give it a natural look. As the name of the movie goes, all the principal characters are UGLY. But the challenge was enjoyable.

Was there any pain of Rahul Bhatt the actor?

Somewhat, but I was not in a bitter state. Unhappy, yes, but not bitter, because my production work was doing well, so no anger, but, yes, I could relate to the character and that helped. I slept only 3 hours on every day of the shooting, so as to give the look of the haggard and tired human, I play in UGLY. It also evolved into creating the restlessness that the character feels.

Your performance is the talk of Cannes and rightly so, is this the second coming of actors such as you, Ronit etc ?

What I can say is that, directors like Anurag, who really don’t care about stars, are creating new frontiers in Indian cinema. As is our audience. With YouTube, and internet, they are seeing world cinema and are demanding more than the same routing that has been fed to them. This is creating an exciting time for the new breed of filmmakers and translating into wonderful opportunities for actors such as myself. See the talent is always there, but unless people see it, how will they know. And now the offers are pouring in. Sudhir Mishra and an Australian director are in talks.  I am glad, even as someone working as a Producer, in this trend. We are a nation of 1.2 billion, we have films and television as our main form of entertainment, and cricket. So why should we not make better films and we are. Even with Stars, they too are wasted in awful films. Now I look forward to the next stage, making an Avtaar, a big film, with non – stars, then we would have truly evolved. I think we are on the threshold of that time.

So is it then good bye to Television?

No, never, that medium sustained me and gave me both a start and a sustenance and I enjoy being a part of it. I will always have a foot in television, certainly as a producer for sure. Even the software that we have produced till date, did not always involve me as an actor, so I enjoy the pure producing part of it too.

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