Rahul Bhatt, who made his mark in the industry with television serial Heena and films 'Yeh Mohabbat Hai' and 'Nayee Padosan', is back on the silver screen with Anurag Kashyap's 'Ugly'. In an hour long conversation, Rahul talks about his upcoming films 'Ugly' and 'Aur Devdas', television's revolution and more. Read onâ€¦
Your last film 'Nayee Padosan' released almost a decade back. What was the reason for the gap?
My last film 'Nayee Padosan' did quite well actually. After that I was getting many roles but I was getting angry and disappointed with the film industry because they only make good films with their sons, cousins, fathers etc. Hence I decided to start my own production house called Film Tonic. We make TV serials but I haven't acted in them.
How did 'Ugly' happen?
For a brief period when I started my struggle I used to stay in Andheri East and Anurag Kashyap also used to stay there. We knew each other since a long time. Immediately I got Heena and I became kind of successful. Then one day again I met Anurag and he said I should be in films. I told him give me a film, I will act. So then he told me that I have a script for you. That is how 'Ugly' happened.
Tell us about your character in 'Ugly'â€¦
'Ugly' is an emotional story of a struggling actor, whose daughter from his ex-wife played by Tejaswini Kolhapur goes missing. A web of deceit lies and past comes in front of him. It is a very intense and emotional story told in the garb of a thriller.
Randeep Hooda recently told us that the delay in his film 'Rang Rasiya' frustrated him. Same was the case with Kay Kay Menon for 'Paanch'. Did the delay in 'Ugly' frustrate you as well?
Unfortunately, these things are not in the actor's hand. If it was in my hand, I would have released the film immediately. But you know Randeep Hooda, Kay Kay Menon and Rahul Bhatt cannot decide the release of the film. Yeah, it deeply disappoints and any actor would get frustrated. It is like a painter who paints and nobody sees his painting. I was disappointed when it didn't get released. But you see, I have gone through enough in life and now I just do the work and forget about it. Whatever happens, it happens for the best. I am not some Yash Raj studio who decides a film's fate. We make bad films with big stars and good films with small stars. It is an irony. I cannot crib about it. Now it is getting released and I am very happy about it.
In your last film 'Nayee Padosan', you essayed a comic role. Your role in 'Ugly' is completely opposite. How did you prepare for it?
My talent will come forward only if I work in different kind of films. I am very thankful to God, though it is late, people will come to know there was an actor called Rahul Bhatt. And for preparation for this film, it wasn't an easy role. It was challenging. This role needed wired look, grumpy eyes, swollen face and dark circles. To get that, we decided not to sleep. For three months I slept only for 2 hours. I have gone through a lot during the filming of 'Ugly'.
Could you share an anecdote while you were shooting for 'Ugly'?
We were shooting in Colaba's Irani CafÃ© where I had to just break down. Anurag just mumbled to me that something happens and I have to break down. So I had to prepare for that shot and suddenly there were some political protests happening outside. I felt like just hitting them because it was distracting. Finally, I managed to get into the skin of the character and I broke down. But even after the scene was over, I couldn't stop crying. Then Anurag came and hugged me and both of us were crying.
With 'Ugly' releasing just a week after Aamir Khan's 'PK', don't you think the collections will be affected?
For me as an actor, 'Ugly' is not a kind of a commercial film which will get affected with openings kya lagi and all. If the film does 1.5 crores on first day, I will be more than happy. Some movies become classics and this movie will be considered one someday and it will get its due soon because not many people have the guts to make a film like this.
Do you think the Indian audience is prepared for a dark film like 'Ugly'?
'Ugly' is a deep dark film. I don't care if Indian audience is prepared or not. I don't think we should judge before the release. Indian audiences have been ready for Satyajit Ray and Shyam Benegal films. Content should be good, it is all that matters. Good work will be appreciated and it cannot go waste. 'Ugly' is a very interesting story and it is Anurag's best film.
Do films like 'Ugly' have their place amongst the big 100 crores films?
I don't consider any film commercial or non-commercial. I consider it as good or bad. 'Ugly' is a good film and I want people to go and watch the film. If these kinds of films will be appreciated, it will open huge opportunities for other small actors and directors. Till when will we see the same four actors who have been making 100 crores and building their bungalows?
You started your career with television and then moved on to films. But if given a chance, would you like to go back to television again?
In the last 8 years, I have been producing television. I never acted in them. But TV in India is going to change in a big way. We currently have saas-bahu soaps in which I am definitely not interested. It is no one week when I don't get a TV offer. But I have kept myself away from the temptations though there is big money in TV. Given a chance, I want to do something path breaking but definitely not saas-bahu serials. I haven't done such films, forget about television. I sat home for 8 years because I was getting run of the mill, dancing around the trees offers.
How about something like a '24'?
24 was amazing but again it was a copy. Copyright in this country is a joke. It is a farce. Everybody copies Hollywood. Why can't we think something original? India used to be very original but we as an audience don't oppose to the content shown to us. The day we stop watching the bullshit, they will be forced to give us something new. In films, all these directors from small towns - Anurag Kashyap, Vikas Bahl, Dibaker Banerjee, Imtiaz Ali, Vishal Bharadwaj etc. they all revolutionized the industry. It went through an interesting phase and hence you got to see 'Queen', 'Dev D', 'Black Friday', 'Jab We Met'. Until and unless the revolution doesn't happen in television, things will not change.
Anurag Kashyap is acting in Sudhir Mishra's 'Aur Devdas' with you. Tell us something about itâ€¦
Anurag Kashyap is playing my father in 'Aur Devdas'. We don't have a scene together. Unfortunately the father dies early. But yes, it is quite an interesting thing. He doesn't like acting too much.
Do you regret rejecting any film offered to you?
I was offered many films but I cannot name them. And I am very happy that I didn't do them. This is a very strange city. You have to do lot of buttering and PR activities, and I don't believe in all that. I am happy sitting at home. Success is something I wouldn't chase at all. I am crazy. Though I stayed home for 8-9 years, I didn't crib. I haven't gone to one single office or filmmaker. I didn't ask work to anybody. And suddenly I have 'Ugly', 'Aur Devdas' and five more big films happening. But 'Ugly' is going to turn things for me. The biggest critic of Cannes - Brian Lark wrote five lines about me, New York Film Festival nominated me for Best Actor. I cannot be in news through all those publicity stunts. I refuse to pay money on my publicity buying front pages in various newspapers. I refuse to pay people to write good things about me. I am not chasing success. I am very happy and content.