He calls himself an atheist, rather proudly in that. He chooses to believe in kindness of the heart, love and compassion -- describing Rahul Bose in a few words is nearly impossible. In Chandigarh on a nippy Wednesday evening, the actor sheds light on some of his 'whys' and 'hows' of life.
On February 22, Rahul's NGO, The Foundation, saw an auction of 16 iconic memorabilia in Mumbai. These items were donated by celebrities to raise funds for charity work of his NGO called The Idea of India. From Shabana Azmi's gold medal for best student in acting at FTII and Abhinav Bindra's Olympic gold medal rifle to Aamir Khan's autographed jacket from Lagaan to a pair of tablas used by Ustad Zakir Hussain and his father Allah Rakha Khan for 28 years -- Rahul's idea behind the auction was that India should be a secular, democratic state without discrimination. Rahul shares, "The idea was that we wanted to go back to Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Manipur, Kashmir etc, select six children each, educate them and make them self-reliant so they could return home and start businesses, schools, colleges."
About Chandigarh boy Abhinav Bindra's donation of his rifle, Rahul says, "I asked him what he'd be left with if he gave up on his rifle. He said the idea is to educate kids, that's what he'd be left with."
Then comes his journey to the industry. "Being an English-speaking South-Mumbai kid, I desperately wanted to study in America, which never happened. Every university I applied at rejected me. The only school I got into told me I should work for two years before enrolling for MBA."
That's how, one fine day, Rahul found himself writing on a piece of paper - if money wasn't a factor, what is the one thing he would want to do.
"Acting and copy-writing were the answers I got. I started working as copywriter while doing theatre in the evening. Based on a performance in one of my plays, Dev Benegal cast me in the film English, August, which I did by taking a two-month long break from advertising. It ran for 50 days at Regal Cinemas, which is a 980 seater, and requires having at least 60% box office collection. There were 650 people per show." And that's how the industry got Rahul Bose, the actor.
Game for it?
"I started playing rugby for all wrong reasons - wanted girls to be interested in me. Gradually, I discovered that the sport was sheer poetry. I began to understand that there is so much in that game that was not me. I was an individualist, the sport taught me to be a team player and taught me some of life's deepest lessons," recalls Rahul.
The social activist
In 1992, when Mumbai riots happened, Rahul was 25 years old. "I wasn't that young that I didn't understand what was going on. I didn't make any donations but my social conscious was awakened and I began understanding the history of problems. So, in 2002, when the Gujrat earthquake happened, I decided to be socially active and joined the NGO Akshara for a couple of years. In 2004, when Tsunami happened, Andamans was the place that was the most neglected. So, I packed my bags on December 29 and left for Andamans, bringing together some NGOs that would support the victims there. That's how I ended up making 23 trips all by myself to the place."
The year 2007 saw the birth of his NGO, The Foundation, which is dedicated to the removal of discrimination from all walks of life.