Gaslight: Rahul Dev Reveals How Being A ‘Legendary’ Cop’s Son Helped Him Prepare For His Role | Exclusive

Rahul Dev has been a part of some brilliant films in the last couple of years. Whether it was thriller film Raat Baaki Hai or Sanjay Dutt’s nail+biting action film Torbaaz, the actor has successfully showcased his acting mettle through all kinds of roles. In addition to that, his role of Wazir Khan in the period drama series The Empire was met with positive reception from the audience and critics alike. Pavan Kripalani’s Gaslight is another feather in his cap.

In an exclusive interview with News18 Showsha, Rahul Dev shared how his legendary father was the ultimate reference point for his character in the film, whether he thinks Bollywood has underutilized him and more.

How much did you mould your character according to your observations of your father and how much of it was your own touch or treatment to it?

See observationally, I am particular about designations. Usually they take it very lightly in films assuming that people don’t know anything about it. And little about the geography from where he is from. This is a role I am quite satisfied with because it’s written in such a way. Plus, the story is very nice in the sense that it is a ‘whodunit’, I couldn’t assume who did the crime until the last 4-5 pages when it is actually supposed to happen in the screenplay. Till such time, the thriller really captured my attentiom. So that’s one of the major reasons for saying yes to the film. I have to thank my friend Mukesh Chabbra for this. They told me I should really do this.

As far as reference is concerned, growing up as a legendary cop’s son. And when I say legendary, he was truly legendary. Two gallantry awards from two different presidents on two different Republic Day parades. It’s a huge honour. I don’t know any other cop who could have gotten gallantry awards twice. He had trained people like Kiran Bedi. He was her mentor.

So most of my childhood was spent above kotwalis. Especially different kotwaalis since police officers who are legendary and honest, they keep getting transferred. They don’t listen and they don’t take bribes. My mother was a working woman all her life. We never had any money. Her salary was needed to fend for the children. So my growing up years was somewhat like that. So what else should be my point of reference for my preparation of the character? You have a guy who trains cops. But having said, in this film because it’s not about the cop, it’s about who has done what. The person he is looking for. The story is that and cop comes in to find that ‘who’. Had it been a proper cop film, the whole dynamic changes. But when the film is not about the forces, it’s about a killer or an absconder or the reason why somebody is missing, then the vibe becomes the most important thing. It would lead interactions with people and interactions to try to decipher what has happened actually.

What was Pavan Kripalani’s Set like? How was the experience working for him?

It was a nice tight unit. Actors were interested in what they were doing and genuinely so. The biggest responsibilities among the actors I would say Sara because film lies heavily on her shoulders. And ofcourse Vikrant whom I really admire on a personal level for the kind of work he has done. There would be a sense of decorum on the sets in the sense people would be interested. There will be silence on the sets during the shots. And by silence, I mean complete silence. I’ll give you an example of tbaf. Normally what happens in the film nowdays that people use sync sound. In the film, my voice is not dubbed. And to achieve that ‘on location’ voice, you need that atmosphere. This was not the kind of unit where the director says ‘silence’ and you can hear mobile notifications or any noise in the background. So the film had a set of responsibile people under the leadership that came from Pavan Kripalani himself. Actors who were interested in creating something and being part of a painting that people would see together. So Jo Jo jis jis ka rang hai bhar dete hai achche se kyuki tasveer banne waali hai. It was nice and I liked the writer a lot, Neha Sharma. She gave me a lot of language freedom to interpret the part. So it was good. It’s a short but impactful role.

If you were to compare actors of today with actors that started their career with you, what are some of the differences you can notice?

It’a unfair to compare actors of any time. Because I think time itself is different. The fabric of time changes. Is the actor on sets behaving according to their whims or according to someone who is calling the shots? It’s the director. Actor is just a third peg to a story. First comes the story, writers and directors collectively write it sometimes. Then they bring a producer. Then they discuss the project and finalize things. So why an actor acts differently in two different films? People are like him in one film, disliking him in another. Because of the vision of the director. In a play you rehearse 40 times, but when it is finally going to act out on stage and if you forget the lines, only you have to cover. The director can’t do anything about it. So an actor is going to do what he is being told to his best of capability hut it’s not his creativity. He is lending himself for someone else’s creativity and creating the vision as he or she has seen it. If Santosh Sivan has seen something and he wants it that way, my work is to support his vision with the help of my skills. That’s the fact of life.

You have acted in a lot of regional films compared to Bollywood, so If I were to ask you about your Bollywood journey, how has it been so far? And do you feel Bollywood has been able to utilise your acting capabilities in the best way possible?

I won’t say that. I feel sincerely I would be capable of much more that what is being offered. But you can’t blame anybody. In between there were some circumstances that I had to be away for four five years. Right when I was at the peak. I was doing so much work and then I lost my wife. She had cancer. I left the business for five years. I didn’t work. And when I finally returned, I was not getting any work. So I had to do Bigg Boss. I feel like I’ve been launched twice. One in the beginning and then I had to do the whole rigamarole again after returning from my sabbatical. But the kind of roles that are being offered to me now, I loved what I did in The Empire. I am liking what I did here. In the coming times, Adhoora is something I could have done. There are now parts being written which are changing the dynamics on the daily basis. Like I start something on 27th March for Applause which again I am very close to that part. So the skill format of an actor today is a very natural format especially in the OTT. I am from an educated school and background so in a larger than life films, you have to leave your brain and wits back at the home. Two people are fighting. In real life, do you tear each other’s shirts or flaunt your physique to them? It happens in commercial format and it’s not bad because many people like watching that. Who are we to decide what is right or wrong? Creativity is only an expression. And it’s the sort of the expression that you can express in any way. If you look down South, their films are performing well but they all follow the template of 70s and 80s films. The dialogues, actors are larger than life and there are some over the top action and fight sequences which doesn’t happen in real life. But the style of narration and telling the same story, the way you tell the story, the way you move and captivate the audience while telling the story, those are the things that matters. So it’s just the way the story is expressed and how people perceive it. I hope such roles come my way.

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