Story of a struggling actor: What it takes to live the life of your dreams
Like many of us, a government job would have been his ticket to a better job. He wasn’t from a poor family, but his aspirations were limitless.Updated: Nov 01, 2017 09:13 IST
For an outsider, the dream of working in Bollywood is next to attaining nirvana. In a country of more than 1.2 billion people, making a space for yourself in the film industry is extremely tough, if not impossible. Thousands land up in Mumbai every day to pursue their dreams and thousands return without realising them.
Rahuul Aamath, a dreamy-eyed boy from a remote village in Rajasthan, is not someone you will bet on in this milieu. Generally, actors don’t come from this strata of society in mainstream Hindi films. It’s not unbelievable that he doesn’t even know his exact birth date.
He says, “I belong to a family where my parents didn’t note my birth date. My father says that I was born when he was in Class XI. Going by that calculation, I assume I was born in 1983-84. I completed M.Sc in 2004, so I think this calculation is correct.”
Like many of us, a government job would have been his ticket to a better job. He wasn’t from a poor family, but his aspirations were limitless. “My village’s name is Nikatpuri, it’s on the Jaipur-Agra highway. We were mentally trained to become government servants, but films have their own charm. We watched films on VCR, sometimes we went to the nearby town on a tractor to watch a film. Sometimes, I even used father’s name to rent VCR.”
Talking about a film and hoping to be a part of it are two completely different things. “Sometimes I did modelling at the local level. I knew about theatre only when I came to the Delhi University for my master’s degree. I also talked to my father about my dreams, but we knew nobody from the film industry.”
A sustainable income could loosen the clutch of fate. Rahuul says, “I wanted a job that could give me the freedom to do theatre, and in 2005 I got selected for a job in DRDO. I wanted to stay in Delhi, but I was sent to Pithoragrah, Uttarakhand on my first posting. I was so desperate to act that I was willing to feature in low-cost Kumauni music albums. There was just one gym with an annual fee of Rs 200, but I had to use it. In fact, the key to the gym was left with me.”
Delhi was where the dream was. At least, for a beginner. “I had to come back to Delhi, so I lied to my father that I want to prepare for IAS. I took a study leave, but nothing happened. Of course, IAS was secondary. After the probation period, I finally came to Delhi and started doing serious theatre.”
Persistence gets you auditions. Rahuul also auditioned for a couple of roles. Unfortunately, the idealism of a theatre actor came in his way. “I auditioned for the role of Arjun in Mahabharata on Star Plus and was offered Krishna’s role, but I didn’t want to get typecast as a mythological character. Recently, I met them and they still remembered me from the audition. My first camera experience was a short film.”
They say actors have a shelf life, especially if you want lead roles in Bollywood. “Age factor also disturbed me, but I saw the interviews of many actors. I realised it’s about presenting yourself in a particular way which happens only after sustaining a particular thought process over a longer period. Also, I believed that I deserve good roles.”
Rahuul elaborates his point, “Wherever you go, you leave an impression. People liked me and I tried to understand why. I also had a job to fall back upon. Many of my peers are working in TV and even if they worked in films, I wasn’t satisfied with their work. I saw people like Deepak Dobriyal succeeding, so I thought my time might be coming.”
“It’s difficult to believe it, but I am not in it for money. I got offers for TV roles and with good money as well, but I was more into theatre. The more I read about cinema, the more I watched films, the more I got inclined to become an ‘actor’ than a hero. Irrfan Khan and Naseeruddin Shah became my idols instead of Shah Rukh and Salman,” adds Rahuul.
He says, “I am not a busy actor, and my office supports me. In fact, it’s this job that has given me the strength to say ‘no’.”
About 33 to 37-year-old today, Rahuul has a reason to be happy because his first feature film Narayan is going to hit the screens on November 3. His eyes twinkle when he explains his character. “It’s about a 42-year-old father who is a security guard. He is a single parent who wants his son to study at a good school, but the child gets into bad company and starts doing drugs. This is when the child meets my character, a local drug lord. It’s a sadist character who wants to see the father broken.”
He further says, “Narayan was earlier titled Kuntha (Frustration). I was called by a friend for the audition, but either I was not briefed well or I didn’t understand the character, and I missed out. After six months, somebody told me that they are still looking for a character called Rana in the film. A friend who was working as AD in the film told me about the requirements and I went again to meet the director. This time they liked me.”
Probably Rahuul knows that Narayan might suffer due to the lack of promotion, but it’s the beginning he has been waiting for in his small office cubicle all this while.
He says with a wide grin, “I have shot for a horror web series, Angel Priya, for Amazon Prime.”
Actors like Nawazuddin, Sanjai Mishra and Pankaj Tripathi have been a beacon of hope for Rahuul and others like him.
Oprah Winfrey gave words to what Rahuul and thousands of ambitious youths are going through: The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams.
Interact with Rohit Vats at Twitter/@nawabjha