“I didn’t think
it would take me eight years, but you see, I’m crazy,” said Rahul Bhat, smearing his index finger with ketchup off his plate, and licking it off. It was well past eight in the evening, and we had just wrapped up a rather crazy photo shoot with Rahul, the man everyone is raving about post Ugly. I say crazy because I couldn’t have explained it in better terms. What do you call a shoot where you turn up at someone’s house with a camera crew, barge straight into the bedroom, ransack the wardrobe for outfits and then barge out with equal fervour, with Rahul himself yelling, “Ready, let’s shoot boys!”
For the few hours that followed, Rahul Bhat’s not- so-humble abode—a duplex apartment in one of Juhu’s tallest sky-rises—had turned into a film set, with all its idiosyncrasies and chaos. But he didn’t seem to mind. It gave the impression that he enjoyed the chaos, almost adding to it at times. His hawk- eyed manager had instructed us to wrap up by 6 pm, but here we were, sitting cross-legged in a football hurdle, gorging on homemade sandwiches, and Rahul was still in no mood to let go of this moment of chaos.
“Arrey chai lao jaldi. Masala chai, adrak wali,” he instructed his cook, who complied with Ninja-like speed. And thus the mood was set. “There was a point when I was depressed, angry. I was crying. I was like, ‘What the hell, I’m an actor and I know I can pull off serious roles. But I used to look around and see mediocre actors getting ahead,’” he started, without me having to egg him on. “So, now that I’ve got what I’ve got, I’m not going to crib about it coming late in life.” A little walk down memory lane, and it wouldn’t be difficult to remember the Rahul Bhat who debuted with Heena, a woman- centric television drama in the ’90s, opposite Simone Singh. By that time, Rahul was already an established model, and Heena had come at the right time for him, helping him realise his dreams of becoming an actor. A dream that led this Kashmiri Pandit boy to pack his bags and turn up in Mumbai.
Rahul’s acting career was a serendipitous journey, for little did he know that an acquaintance formed 12 years ago would today turn into his most fruitful liaison. “Anurag (Kashyap) and I weren’t thick friends ever but we knew each other. Twelve years ago, when we both had just come to Bombay during our struggling days, so to speak, we were in the same locality in PMGP Colony, Andheri East, in a small oneroom unit each. But somehow, I had left an impression on him,” he said, revealing how he landed in Ugly. Kashyap had said in several interviews that one reason he cast Rahul as Rahul Kapoor in the film was because he thought that his portrayal of a struggler would be true to life. Having experienced the harder side of life, he’d be able to justify the emotional highs and lows of a struggler. But Rahul doesn’t quite agree with this. “My struggle has been very different,” said Rahul, shaking his head in denial. “I got my modelling break pretty early, and then I was off the dingy lanes of PMGP and was staying in a posh locality. I was making a lot of money through modelling and then, Heena happened. My struggle actually started post Nayi Padosan, and it was a different kind of struggle altogether. It wasn’t just about finding work, but