“90% of Indian cinema is crap.” – Rahul Bose
The above statement by the veteran actor has always fascinated me, as he treads the unconventional path, while also venturing into movies with people like me.
“Why do you watch such movies which only fetch ‘critic ratings’ but are not for the masses? Why Rahul Bose? Why do watch only those movies which portray sexuality and fetch controversies?” my friends asked me when I dragged them to watch Kaizad Gustad’s “Bombay Boys”. I didn’t reply because I already knew the answer.
Dear readers, let me introduce you all to Rahul Bose for your convenience. He is a man of 50. He is an actor, film director, screen writer, activist and rugby player.
One of his early films is the comedy “Bombay Boys” (1998), directed by the controversial director Kaizad Gustad. The film is about three young men of Indian origin who have been raised in the West. The elan Rahul Bose plays the character of Ricardo Fernandes who lands in Mumbai from Australia in search of his long-lost brother. During this time, Krishna Sahani (played by Naveen Andrews) also lands in Bombay from New York City to make it big in Bollywood. Xerxes Mistry (played by Alexander Gifford), who is a musician from London, also comes here.
Xerxes comes to India in search of his ancestral roots. In the meantime, Krishna falls prey to the underworld don Mastana (played by Naseeruddin Shah) who is also a film producer. Krishna, with his poor Hindi accent, is asked to play the silly stunts in a big-budget movie by Mastana, who wants the movie to flop. Xerxes Mistry is gay – and while searching for his true identity, he lands up in a torrid love affair with his homosexual landlord Pesi (played by Roshan Seth).
While all the characters were intriguing, I was especially hooked to Rahul Bose’s portrayal of Ricardo Fernandes. Ricardo shares his tiny apartment with Krishna and Xerxes. In search of his brother, he falls for the Mastana’s mistress, Dolly (played by Tara Deshpande). Ricardo is spotted at a strip club where he completely strips himself, except for his tiny vest – while dancing to please the rich and famous ‘aunties’, who are sex-starved. Ricardo leads a chaotic life where he goes to any extent in search of his brother. He is also undeterred in his pursuit of Dolly and to get her of the dungeon.
Mastana’s men beat him up when he asks a simple question. He gets further beaten up when he repeats the same question (till he spits blood) – before those goons answer his question, and he silently leaves. This is a heart-wrenching scene indeed. Before getting severely beaten up, the question which Fernandes had asked was: “Is Dolly still inside her apartment?”
Ricardo still saves Dolly when she tries to commit suicide (by slashing herself) on the same day. Ricardo also discovers the sad fate of his brother – and he is seen sobbing at the grave. Then, Mastana forces him to quit India for loving Dolly. In front of Mastana, Ricardo blurts “I love you” to Dolly. He leaves India, but doesn’t forget Dolly as he sends her a ticket to her so that she can join him abroad.
The film has a brilliant song “Waltzing Matunga” which Ricardo sings for Dolly. Dolly, unable to bear the shackles of Masatana’s torture, escapes from her flat and joins Ricardo for the dance.
I always feel connected to the characters when I watch a movie. Here, I felt connected to Rahul Bose when I watched him playing Ricardo – a compassionate lover to a woman who, he knows, is the slave of a powerful underworld thug. He could have been killed – yet, he remains firm and doesn’t let go of his love, no matter how difficult it is.
I also admired Rahul Bose in his act as Aman Kapoor in the movie “Chameli” directed by Anant Balani and Sudhir Mishra. Here, he was involved with a prostitute Chamlei (played by Kareena Kapoor) who changes his life forever.
His role as Raja Chowdhury in “Mr and Mrs Iyer” (directed by Aparna Sen) was equally commendable. Here, he and Meenakshi Iyer (played by Konkona Sen Sharma) shared a platonic love relationship with each other.
Why did I feel the need to speak about Rahul Bose? I have a mission – and here it is. In real life, such love stories rarely happen. Ricardo loved Dolly (a mistress), Aman Kapoor’s life takes a 360 degree turn when he meets Chameli (a street-smart prostitute) and Raja Chowdhury falls in love with Meenakshi (a married woman).
When a woman professes her love to a man, it is often considered as an invitation to have sex. While she may be seeking emotional support, there’s a chance that the man may take advantage of the fact, drag her to the bed, and even use her as a doormat.
I often wonder what will happen if I, a woman, utter “I love you” to a man. Will I be labeled as a ‘good woman’or someone seeking love? Or, will my character come under scrutiny for saying those words?
I have often come across women weeping bitterly, who have said to me that they had professed their love, but ultimately, the relationship did not sustain. In many cases, the woman’s respect, morality and worth was questioned.
Here, I have expressed my admiration and love for Rahul Bose. Now, if I say this to another man, will my character be questioned as well? Women have given in to hysterics, following their inability to recover from the loss or absence of a loved one. I believe that the many people who actually play with the emotions of woman are responsible for this.
After all, this is a society where women can be judged for anything she does. If a woman wants to kiss a man, she is judged. If she drinks and smokes, she will probably be labelled as a woman of low moral values.
I write this letter to Rahul Bose.
Dear Mr Rahul, you have fallen for women of ‘questionable’ characters in films. So, will you also fall in love with me a single woman writing on sex? I wait for that day when I will be able to say a person that ‘I love him’ without the fear of being judged for my past life. Will I be loved by a person who will ignore all my flaws and still love me as a spiritual soul? Yes, I will make the first move here. I will tell that man – the man I admire the most (Rahul Bose) – that I love him.
Before I forget, I must say I love controversies. That is one of the reasons why I love watching Rahul Bose, and why I am spending a day writing a letter to him. I am also doing it because I believe that films often reflect the reality around and the characters of the actors.
Being a single woman, I will wait for that day when I will meet a person, the love of my life – and say it loud and clear that I love him. To the misogynist and patriarchal society – will you allow me or will you judge me?