Actor Rahul Bagga has managed to strike a fine balance between theatre, television and films and has tasted success in every medium that he has been associated with. Riding high on the accolades that have come his way, post the release of ‘Mastram’, he talks about his illustrious journey as an actor.
When and how did you develop a penchant for acting?
You started your career as an actor with theatre, moved on to television and are now doing films. Which medium satisfies you the most as an artist?
I never planned that I would do theatre, ad films, television or feature films. As an actor, my job is to just act. Medium does not really matter to me. I just wish that whatever work I do, on whichever medium, should give me creative satisfaction and should reach out to a large audience.
You delivered a commendable performance in ‘Mastram’. Mastram was a pen name and the writer never used his real name. With such little information about him, how did you prepare for the role?
It is always tough to portray a non-fictitious character. You have to be very careful while playing the role of a public figure as you have to do a lot of research on him and make sure you get the nuances right; right from the way he looks to the way he talks. You have to be careful enough not to portray him in a way that goes against his actual personality. For me, it was easy though, as not much is known about Mastram. I could take creative liberties; it was almost like a blank canvas on which I could draw my own painting.
Did you read any of the books authored by Mastram in your school/college days?
I used to read a lot of books by Mastram in my college days. In North India, from the masses to the classes, everybody reads Mastram. What surprises me is the fact that people raise their eyebrows when somebody talks about adult content or mentions the name of an adult novel such as Mastram. If you happen to visit some hostels in North, you will find students exchanging novels written by Mastram. The truth is that almost everybody has read such books at some point in their lives.
'Mastram’ got positive reviews from critics but it did not click at the box office. The film was exclusively promoted online and no promotional activities were carried out on other platforms. Do you think that went against the film?
I do believe that had the film been promoted on other platforms, it would have done better. However, it would be unfair to say that ‘Mastram’ did not do well commercially as the film was made on a budget of one crore and went on to gross around 8-10 crores at the box-office. Today, unfortunately, the entry of a film in the 100 crore club has become the yardstick to measure the success of a film. People should understand that if a film has been made on a smaller budget and it earns in excess of its budget, it’s a successful film.
You have starred in two television shows (‘Powder’ and ‘Kismat’) produced by Yash Raj Films’ television production arm YRF television. Any plans of doing a film with them?
As an actor, I would like to work with all my favourite filmmakers. I would like to work with everyone right from Anurag Kashyap to Woody Allen. However, it’s the makers’ discretion to pick me for their projects. So yes, I would like to do films with Yash Raj Films and play ‘Raj’, ‘Rahul’ (referring to the characters played by Shah Rukh Khan in various films). I’m already Rahul, right? (Laughs).
Now that you are doing films, would you still be open to offers from television?
Absolutely. As I stated earlier, I’m not biased towards any particular medium. I consider two things when I take up a project. First, the script should be good and second, the people associated with the project should be serious about their work. A lot of people come into the industry for various reasons. I’m not saying money is not important but creativity is something which can’t be compromised upon. In television, today, a lot of shows lack creativity and does not offer something new. Having said that, there are some good shows being made every now and then. I was fortunate to be a part of two such shows (‘Powder’ and ‘Kismat’). In the west, we have shows like ‘Breaking Bad’, ‘Game Of Thrones’, which have enjoyed widespread popularity. So, if some good offer comes from television, I would be happy to accept it.
On a lighter note, has anyone ever remarked that you bear a striking resemblance to actor Amit Sadh?
(Laughs) No, you are the first person who has mentioned this.
You have done fairly offbeat work as an actor, both in television and films. Would you like to do an out and out commercial Hindi film?
Yes, why not? I would like to do a lot of stuff in that space. I’m just waiting for the right opportunities. In fact, I am doing a film called ‘Isshqq Malang’ at the moment, which is a commercial thriller with songs, dance and all commercial elements in it.
What are the projects you are working on at the moment?
Currently, I’m working on three films. ‘Isshqq Malang’ is one of them. We have around ten days of shooting left on that film.
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
I want to be in a position to choose the kind of work I want to do. I want lots of good work associated with my name.
Favourite actor- I like Ranbir Kapoor, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor from the current lot. All time favourite actors would be Amitabh Bachchan, James Dean and Al Pacino.
Favourite filmmaker- I would love to work with Vishal Bhardwaj.
Favourite film- Rebel Without A Cause.
A role you wish you had played- Tony Montana (played by Al Pacino in ‘Scarface’) and Jim Stark (played by James Dean in ‘Rebel Without A Cause’).
Thank you for making time for the interview.
Pleasure. Nice talking to you.
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