Srijit Mukherji has helmed the Hoichoi web series Robindronath Ekhane Kawkhono Khete Aashenni aka Rekka.
After a long sabbatical, Rahul Bose is finally a part of a new Bengali project. The actor makes his Bengali web series debut with Robindronath Ekhane Kawkhono Khete Aashenni aka Rekka. The series, helmed by Srijit Mukherji, sees him in the role of a mysterious character, who at the face of it, is a journalist.
The actor, who is mainly known for his work in Bollywood, spoke about the series, his future projects as a director, producer and actor. Known for being part of arthouse cinema, Rahul also elaborated on his experience working with Srijit and all other Rekka co-stars.
Excerpts from the interview...
You are coming back in a story about a witch after Bulbbul. Will it be right to say the supernatural genre excites you as an actor?
No, not at all. First of all, Rekka is not a supernatural series. There is a suggestion of the supernatural but the entire mystery wrapped around it has an element of that but it is a whodunit. There are many layers to it. Bulbbul was an out-and-out supernatural film. There's an acceptance of the supernatural being a reality. That is not the case with Rekka. It's not that the supernatural genre attracts me or repels me. As long as the story is great, it can be about two people playing badminton on Mars, I don't care. If the story is great, I'm ready.
Did you observe how a journalist does his/her job for the role? What went into your preparation?
I'm surrounded by journalists - some friends, some bitter, some idealistic, some angry, all of them in pain, especially in the world we live in today. I know journalists and have a pretty good idea of what that world is all about. As you will see in Rekka, he says my name is Nirupam Chanda and I'm not a journalist. There are other sides to him that will be revealed in the show. Preparation was more psychological. The anger, impatience that comes with moving from city-to-city as a child, never spending more than a year and a half in the classroom, having to make and lose friends, believing in the temporary, not having any strong emotional ties to anyone but his parents - I cultivated all of that. Being a perfectionist, hard on himself and the world, having a dark sense of humour, was very interesting.
Is there any aspect to Nirupam that you connected to while working on the series?
Being a perfectionist and being impatient. Anybody who knows me will tell you I'm a combination of both. Some of them will appreciate these qualities while some won't. I'm not a mean or rude person, just like Nirupam. He believes in violence and being tough but I'm not that. I believe in peace, love and unity. I'll stand up for my rights and the rights of the oppressed but it will be a stubborn resistance, not a violent backlash. We both seem to enjoy fish, we're both left-handers and we're not in a relationship. He spends his time alone, I spent the last eight years of my life alone. So maybe those are the common elements.
Rekka is also your first Bengali web series. What has the whole experience been like?
A series and a film are the same. I had a great experience working with Hoichoi. The culture is controlled by the director. Srijit is one of the top directors of Bengal. I had a great experience with him. Besides, the co-actors were wonderful. Azmeri was so well prepared. She knew all her lines. I knew none. I drove Srijit mad. She helped me prepare. She also has a good sense of humour. Anirban is a superb actor as you may have seen in the trailer. He's also a wonderful human being, from whatever little I know of him. It's nice to sit and have a drink with him and chat. I had a great time.
You are predominantly a Bollywood actor who has picked up very limited Bengali projects. What prompted you to take up a Bengali web series - Rekka?
I have never cared about language. I did my first Bengali project almost 20 years ago. After that, I did 9-10 films in Bengali, two Tamil films, one Kannada film, one bilingual English-Malayalam film and of course, 30 Hindi films. So I don't care about language. I just go after a project that has good writing, a good director, good co-actors and a good role. Rekka had all four. It was as easy to say yes to Rekka as it was to say, Pyaar Ke Side Effects.
Even with Bulbbul, you brought the villainous character to life. Do we have a surprise in Rekka too?
In Bulbbul, I played a double role. I also played the other guy who was also not so much a villain as a 10-year-old trapped in a 40-year-old's body who is used to grabbing every toy that he likes. In Rekka, he's (my character is) not a villain. He's very much the opposite but he does have anger, impatience, is a perfectionist but also a strong sense of justice - right and wrong. For him, those are the only things that matter at the end of the day. So, that's what he believes in. Those are very strong, positive qualities in a human being. He's a complex person.
Tell me about the last scene from the trailer - where there is an outburst. What was the brief given to you? What was going on in your mind?
I can't tell you or the whole secret will be leaked out and Hoichoi will kill me. I'll be dead by tonight.
How was your experience working with Srijit Mukherji?
He is talented, experienced, sensitive, funny, well-read. It was an experience that was very easy and smooth. We hardly spoke to each other not because we didn't want to talk to each other but because we understood each other well. When two people know what is to be done and the script is written well, you don't need to waste time chatting about intellectual motivations and all the other stuff. We sat there and worked on the character from the time he was born. I have about 36 points about Nirupam if there's a season 2. I'll hold on to that. We had a two-hour conversation about that, with two-three sessions on Zoom but otherwise, when we were shooting, we hardly spoke. It was usually about cricket. I got my award for Bulbbul back then. He very kindly let me go back to Mumbai to attend the awards function. Apart from that, we hardly chat.
Have you read the novel the series is inspired from?
No. It's written in Bangla. I can't read Bangla. So, I haven't read it.
You had also turned a producer and director with Poorna. Do you have any other projects you want to back the same way as Poorna?
I am writing and directing a film (not producing it). It's for an OTT platform. I will be making it early next year.
What are your upcoming projects?
I'm releasing an English series, a comedy series, which I've acted in, on another OTT platform. I'm very happy with the way it has turned out. That will be released by the end of this year or early next year. I am looking at three projects as an actor but haven't said yes to any of them.