Every time, Rahul Bose and Konkona Sen Sharma have come together on the big screen, the audiences have loved them. The two wove magic on the silver screen in the National-award winning Mr and Mrs Iyer (2002). And now, Rahul and Konkona will be seen essaying Rabindranath Tagore's much-loved characters, Amit and Labanya, in Suman Mukhopadhyay's Shesher Kobita.
Dubbed, the thinking woman's sex symbol, Rahul was apprehensive about playing Amit Ray, a charming Oxford pass out. The actor found Amit to be complicated. Rahul, who was last seen in the Bengali film, Sandhye Namar Aage, says he hasn't been offered "something astoundingly brilliant" in Bengali films for a while. Bose, for now, wants to focus more on Hindi films and occasionally do a Bengali film. HT catches up with the Dil Dhadakne Do actor on love, films and more:
Your character Manav in Dil Dhadakne Do was a chauvinist. What kind of feedback did you get from your female fans?
Oh! Girls hated my character. But I did receive a lot of positive feedback for my performance. The film was on a cruise and it was refreshing. I rely on a few people's opinion. My sister, niece and my best friends thought my work was convincing.
Of late, you haven't been seen in too many Bengali films.
Last year, I did Sandhye Namar Aage. I was busy with other projects such as Vishwaroopam 1 and 2, Niruttara, Dil Dhadakne Do and a Bangladeshi film, Under Construction. I am playing the lead (a compassionate cop) in a Hindi film. I won't be doing a Bengali film for some time now. Tony (Aniruddha Roy Choudhury, who directed Rahul in Antaheen) has asked me to do a role in his new film. If I do a Bengali film, I won't be able to give more than 20 days at a stretch. Also, I haven't been offered astoundingly brilliant Bengali films for a while now.
Your new Bengali film, Shesher Kobita, is one of the most well-read novels of Tagore. Were you apprehensive of taking up the project?
Definitely, there's an apprehension. It's such a well-read novel. It's an iconic character from one of the greatest creative minds in history. But if I keep thinking about it, it would become very difficult to play the role convincingly. So I focused on the character. I treated this film like any other film.
Have you read the novel?
Yes, but in English. Suman (director Suman Mukhopadhyay) has been very faithful to the text, but has added a layer of cinema. There's no change in the dialogues but there's a cinematic thread, which Suman has included in the film. It has lifted the film.
Did Suman Mukhopadhyay give you any brief before the film went on floors?
We spoke about Suman's conception of Amit and he said in today's contemporary times, Amit would be a complicated person… even a problematic person. He is not scared of presenting Amit as he is. Amit never feels he has any problems. He doesn't think there's any complication. He is very confident of what he does. This is what Suman wanted me to understand. You should not transpose the problematic lens on Amit when you are playing him.
Since Shesher Kabita is a celebrated novel, Bengali readers might have a picture of Amit in mind. Do you think you fit into that frame?
I don't know. I have never thought about it. May be the girls will find me to be the perfect Amit or maybe not. It's not me on the screen. The kind of Bengali I have spoken is not me at all.
You are mostly seen playing urban characters on the big screen.
Yes. But I guess that's the beauty of the choices I have had as an actor. From The Japanese Wife, Mr and Mrs Iyer and now Amit Ray in Shesher Kobita… if you look at this triangle, I think it's a great choice.
What's your interpretation of Amit Ray? Do you agree with him when he chooses Ketaki over Labanya?
He is really complicated. To start with Ketaki, move onto Labanya and then finally end up with Ketaki... it's crazy. There's a sense of entitlement and a strangest sense of disrespect … I don't think he respects himself. I don't think he respect others too.
For somebody who is so bright, he is self-centred. I just can't get myself to like him. As a character, I have to like playing him. Similar is the case with Manav in Dil Dhadakne Do. There are reasons to play a character in a film, but do I like the person? In Manav's case, I don't like him at all. In Amit's case, there are some things I like about him and some not.
Amit and Labanya's love is unfulfilled in Shesher Kabita.
Unfulfilled love can be very painful. But there's a sweet pain in it. You can't let it sallow you up and consume you, but you can certainly learn from it. It's preferable to have fulfilled love than unfulfilled love, but then unrequited love has its own lessons.
What's your notion of love?
My notion of love now is friendship, laughter and trust.
When are you planning to settle down?
I am very much settled. Love can come like a thunderbolt from nowhere or love can grow slowly. There are no rules in love. I am never closed. I am open to the notion of love.
This is your fourth film (Mr and Mrs Iyer, 15 Park Avenue, Dil Kabaddi and Shesher Kabita) with Konkona Sen Sharma. How is it catching up with her?
We are friends. We get along and have similar world views. Now, Koko is a mom. Koko's son Haroon was on the set of the film. After shooting, she spent her evenings with him. Earlier, we would chat and have dinner. Now, she has a lot of responsibilities. She is great fun to work with.