Actors cannot shy away from homosexuality: Rahul BoseOct 6, 2006 Subhash K. Jha
Mumbai, Oct 6 (IANS) Rahul Bose, the atypical leading man of films like "English August", "Mumbai Matinee", "Split Wide Open" and now "Pyaar Ke Side Effects", says he can drop his pants and his inhibitions easily because he has no image.
"I guess I can drop my pants and my inhibitions because I'm not a conventional leading man. I've no image. I'm marginal. To the mainstream actors, the image is more important than their integrity as actor," Rahul told IANS in an interview.
"People ask me why I did a nude scene in 'Split Wide Open'. When you submit to a genre you submit completely. I believe actors cannot afford to shy away from homosexuality. It's the easiest thing for me to take a stand on the matter because I'm acting."
His recent release "Pyaar Ke Side Effects" (PKSE) is replete with talk about sex and copulation. But the actor says he doesn't regret doing it.
"I went with the director Saket Chaudhury's instincts. The audience loves it."
He doesn't agree that PKSE is his most sexually unabashed film. "I think 'Split Wide Open' was more unabashed."
In your new film "Pyaar Ke Side Effects" you're shown talking to a very private part of your anatomy.
Don't lots of men do that? They do it all the time. It's a dialogue you carry on all your life. But I didn't want to do it. I went with the director Saket Chaudhury's instincts. The audience loves it.
No other hero would have done the dialogue with his private parts.
People ask me why I did a nude scene in "Split Wide Open". When you submit to a genre you submit completely. Even the sexual politics of my character in Govind Nihalani's "Takshak" had my character using his gun like an extension of his phallus. I played a sexually insecure person. Very few actors throw away their vanity while playing a character. Balraj Sahni did.
I can't imagine him talking to his you-know-what.
It's quite unlikely.
Why are Bollywood actors so inhibited about portraying sexuality?
In one of my earliest films "Bom-gay" (a series of short films) I played a gay character who was shown having sex with a stranger in the passive position. I did it because the director was a dear friend.
No actor wanted to do that role. I did it because I believe actors cannot afford to shy away from homosexuality. It's the easiest thing for me to take a stand on the matter because I'm acting.
There's still a stigma against homosexuality in films and in society?
Yes, we haven't moved one inch forward. I fully support Vikram Seth and Arundhati Roy who want Article 377 to be abolished. These are shameful laws. Our cinema remains deeply hypocritical. Art exhibitions showing huge penises can only create outrage. Genuine social change has to come slowly, and from the fringes. "Mr & Mrs Iyer" got it right. We need to tackle homosexuality in a similar way. We only have crass movies reinforcing stereotypes on homosexuality.
What made you get so gutsy so early in your career?
I guess I can drop my pants and my inhibitions because I'm not a conventional leading man. I've no image. I'm marginal. To the mainstream actors the image is more important than their integrity as actor.
I've never treated a single shot with disrespect. I can never get smug on screen. An actor has to take his character as far as it needs to go. When people say they think I'm real in PKSE, I'm thrilled.
The dialogues discuss copulation, underwear, etc.
It's all buddy-buddy talk. I agree it could've easily become smutty. In the hands of a crass director and actors, who easily slip into toilet humour, the film could've become another one of those cheesy comedies, like the buddy flick I was offered after "Jhankar Beats".
You mean Indra Kumar's "Masti"?
I am not saying that. But there's a kind of comedy in Bollywood that I try to avoid.
PKSE is your most sexually unabashed film?
No. I think "Split Wide Open" was more unabashed. "Mumbai Matinee" was about a guy trying to lose his virginity and even my film "Everybody Says I'm Fine" and "Bombay Boys" had sexual undercurrents. My work would show the sexual dynamics in Mumbai. In fact, most of my films are set in Mumbai.
You always seem to be doing the unmentionable on screen, for example you had a masturbation scene in "English August".
And there was a fully nude scene in the film, plus a nude back shot in "Split Wide Open".
Strange chemistry in the love scenes between you and Mallika Sherawat in PKSE?
It's important for co-stars to get on on the sets. It helps dissolve the natural diffidence between couples. But that doesn't chemistry make. I know of real-life couples who make a lousy pair on screen. After acting for 13 years I think chemistry between co-stars is a fluke.
People said Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan or Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts had great chemistry in their romantic comedies. But there was no sexuality between them.
In a romantic comedy like PKSE it's important to have a comic chemistry and a piquant feel to the relationship. That's where Mallika and I work. We genuinely liked each other and we let it show. She is one of the most honest persons I've met. Something goes wrong when she talks to the media. That's not the spontaneous and funny Mallika I know.
You've lots of kissing and lovemaking scenes with her.
The genuine warmth and affection we felt for each other showed up on screen.
How do you manage to do things that other actors wouldn't dream of?
It's like this - when you love a woman more than how physical you've gotten with her the relationship is true. But when you love her less than the extent of your physical relationship, the relationship is over. To retain your intensity as an actor, you need to live life more than what you show on screen. I live an extreme life.
From the grim and gay "Bom-gay" to the heterosexual urban metro-centric dude in PKSE, how's the journey been?
It's unbelievable. If during "English August" you had told me I'd one day be in a romantic comedy in Hindi with one of the hottest women in Bollywood, I wouldn't have believed you. And now I think PKSE will be my most successful film to date.
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Pyaar Ke Side Effects