It was a scene in
Mr and Mrs Iyer
that made him special. Meenakshi Iyer wakes up in a derelict forest bungalow to find Raja Chowdhury, the wildlife photographer she’s come to rely on during a horrific journey home, missing. She’s angry, then distraught, thinking he has abandoned her child and her because she refused to share the one usuable bedroom with him the night before.
She runs outside.. and finds Raja lying under a canopy of trees. That was a moment of epiphany for Meenakshi. She realises that this man who had steadfastly remained by her side, could well have been her Mr Right, despite being from a different community.
She wasn’t the only one who thought the quietly strong and wonderfully sensitive Raja was perfect. There were others as well, including yours truly. And my Mr Bhattacharya, afraid that Mr Iyer was in danger of wooing me away too, hastened to remind me that Raja was just a character in a movie.
Still, I was really excited when I stepped into Rahul Bose’s make-up room at Rajkamal Studio for an interview. He was nothing like Raja.. cold, aloof and animated only when we moved to esoteric subjects like nationalism and world cinema.
co-star, Perizaad Zorabian, who shared the page with him remarked that while her interview was warm, his was decidedly chilly. Brr!
My mirage shattered, I stuck to the bubbly Perizaad at the film’s premiere and a chirpy Kareena Kapoor on the
sets, steering clear of the suited-booted Bose. Our roads crossed again, over the wire several months later. The connection was bad, literally, and I couldn’t make out much of what he was saying.
After one too many muttered ‘Sorry, I didn’t get that”, he snapped, “So, what do I do?” My patience snapped too. I told him curtly that he could go some place where the line was clearer.. or we could forget the interview.
I thought with that one statement, I had snapped all connection with Rahul, but surprisingly, he turned almost friendly. We wrapped up the interview on rather cordial terms.
A year ago, one of my younger colleagues who was starry-eyed about Rahul, called him up to ask him what he liked best about Mumbai.
That evening when I reached home, I was surprised by a call from a disgruntled Rahul. He rattled off his landline number saying some girl from my publication had buzzed him on his cell phone and repeatedly muttered that she couldn’t hear a thing.
I called my colleague to pass on the number. She cribbed about how difficult Rahul had been.. talking in a hushed voice over a bad line. Hmm, sounded familiar!
When she had told him a couple of times that she couldn’t hear, he had hung up on her. I persuaded her to call him back and the interview was done. But my colleague still doesn’t like him much.
I do, even though he’s nothing like Raja Chowdhury.