Rahul Bose, who plays general Zulfikar in director Deepa Mehta’s film based on Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, reveals that he has been involved with the film for around 20 years but his advancing age relegated him from the lead to a small role when the film was finally made.
Deepa’s is the second attempt to bring the Booker-winning novel to the big screen, after Christine Powell’s failed attempt when he had tried to make a five-part series on it 15 years ago. Back then, Salman himself had chosen Rahul for the lead role of Saleem Sinai.
“Salman and I have known each other for 25 years. Around 20 years ago, Salman had chosen me for the lead role from almost 140 people. But after so many years when the film was being made again, he wanted me to be in it but he said that I was too old for the lead part now,” says Rahul.
The actor admits that his is not a major role. “Zulfi’s is a 10-11 minute role. Even I know that the film is about Saleem Sinai, India, his parents and malevolent twin Shiva, so I don’t want to give my role undue importance,” he says.
Rahul admits that though his character is loosely based on slain Pakistani General Zia-Ul-Haq, the film has shown his human side.
It was disturbing for Rahul to play such a cruel role, but he got into character with ease. “I thought I will have to work hard, but I suppose we all have a cruel instinct and I used mine for Thakshak 14 years ago also. Zulfi is so vague and pompous that it becomes a cartoon sketch. To prevent the character from being two-dimensional Deepa included scenes to show his serious, thoughtful and vulnerable side. In that respect he comes up as being a human first,” says Rahul.