Rahul Dev has worked in over 40 Hindi films and has had more than 105 releases in total that span across Telugu, Malayalam and Tamil cinema. Today he is recognized all over the country for playing the quintessential action villain across film industries. On the other hand, Shreyas Talpade is known for his terrific comic timing but viewers also fondly remember him for convincingly moulding himself into the role of a deaf-mute cricketer in Iqbal. Since then Shreyas has been engaged both in front of and behind the camera as an actor and producer respectively.

The actors will soon be seen together in director Mukesh Jadhav’s yet-untitled psychological thriller that takes you through the maze of a woman’s complex sensitivities which are both mysterious and mesmerizing. In an exclusive tete-a-tete with Pandolin, the versatile actors discuss the film, their work and careers so far.

Rahul Dev

Rahul Dev

Please tell us something about your roles in the upcoming film by Mukesh Jadhav?

Rahul –  I play the eldest brother in a patriarchal family of three brothers. The brothers lose their father at a very young age, which leads to the eldest brother assuming the role of a father figure in the family. Therefore, he comes from a position of dominance and feels responsible for the well-being of not only himself but the entire family and family business.

Shreyas – It is basically a thriller about a particular lady, her desires and ambitions. She is married to my elder brother who is being played by Rahul Dev and I play the youngest brother in the film. Unfortunately, I cannot reveal much about the film at this stage but there is a mystery involved related to an investigation in Nainital.

What excited you’ll about your roles and the film?

Rahul – The variations that my character had was what attracted me to the role. Firstly, the love that my character has for his mentally challenged younger sibling. Both the characters share a good bond and there is a nice chemistry in the relationship, where I am like  a protective father-figure. But then there are other relationships in the film which my character goes through, there are manipulations, betrayals and revenge. There is a complete character growth that you’ll be able to see on screen.

Shreyas – This film is being made by Mukesh Jadhav who also happens to be my mentor, my guru. When I was in college I learned whatever little I know about acting from him. He has been instrumental in shaping my skill, craft and career, so obviously this was an opportunity to try and repay him in a certain way. When Mukesh sir approached me for the film, one factor that drew me was of course him, but the other major factor was the script. I have been known to do certain types of films, especially comedy, so when you get an offer to do a different kind of story whether it is a drama, thriller, action etc. obviously you get excited. The script was nice; it was a different genre than what I was getting to do. And like I said it was being helmed by my mentor who has his own cinematic language. So there were a lot of factors that contributed to me choosing this film.

How did you prepare for it?

Shreyas – There was no special preparation per se. I play a boy from the city who works here and things happen with his family in Nainital and he has to go back and help them out. But it wasn’t as if any specific preparation was needed for this. For example, in Iqbal I played a deaf mute guy who harbors cricketing ambitions so you know that role requires a particular kind of preparation. But here it is an everyday guy and things that happen to him can happen to any family and suddenly his situation changes and he doesn’t know how to react to that situation. I was completely dependent on my director as I knew that he is someone who will not compromise in making the film or any particular scene, so I surrendered myself completely to his vision. Though there were times where we would debate about certain things and he would convince me about his point of view as a director and a storyteller. It was great fun and for me especially it was like going back to college, to the workshops and theatre we used to do under his guidance. It was a nostalgic experience for me.

Rahul you have worked in lot of other film industries apart from Bollywood, how has experience been so far?

Tamil and Malayalam audiences are the most critical ones. I have done big budget films in Tamil like my last film was with Vikram, Murugadoss and Fox Studios. I have done a film with Ajith too recently. Coincidentally we had worked together before on Asoka though we did not share screen space together back then but it was good to be working with him again. So coming back to your question, Tamil audiences dismiss films immediately, if there is no logic in it. In terms of audiences I would say that Telugu audiences enjoy a film like no other and these kind of audiences are the need of the hour. I am not biased towards them because I have worked over there but if you see the way they react to a film you’ll understand.

They just go to a film wanting to be entertained, dance in theatres and in the first few shows you can’t even see what is going on because the audiences are completely enjoying the film. Also another important thing in Tamil-Telugu cinema is the support of the fan clubs against piracy. These fans make it very hard for video pirates to operate thereby directly helping the filmmakers. But now even in the Hindi film industry we are regularly seeing films with a balance between commercial and critical, movies  like Airlift, Neerja etc. There are other good filmmakers too who are making really good films like Anurag Kashyap, Dibakar Bannerjee, Sujoy Ghosh and others. And these filmmakers are not afraid to launch female-centric projects or films with a female in the main lead, which is a good sign that we are moving forward.

Shreyas Talpade

Shreyas Talpade

Shreyas you too regularly work in Marathi cinema which is going through a very good phase, what do you think are the reasons for this quality of work coming out from Marathi cinema?

I think the entire scenario is changing in terms of filmmaking, in terms of films being made and in terms of budgeting too. There is this whole digital revolution that is happening in films today. Films are available on your palm tops. One reason for Marathi films doing well despite their limited resources in terms of budget, release power etc. is that they want to compete with the best films being made anywhere. For example, in Mumbai you are competing not only with films coming out of Bollywood but also with English films, films from South India, Punjabi films etc. i.e. with the best of regional cinema too. So obviously each one wants to stand out to get more shows and more footfalls and for that you have to up your ante and make sure that your product is at par with the best there is. This is what has pushed people to do their best.

Rahul, apart from your intense action roles, you showcased great comic timing in Sankat City. Will we be seeing you in more such roles?

Sankat City was nice but unfortunately it did not reach across as much as it should have. I am usually identified as the guy jumping out of the chopper and beating up twenty other guys. People come up to me and all they want to talk about is body building and action scenes. Therefore, there is a certain perception about me but I am happy that I did that film though it was a risk for me. But there are very few to almost no such roles being written and one reason for that is that films like Sankat City have to reach masses too. The other reason being that we need filmmakers who have faith in themselves and are not just making films as projects by signing stars. Because fortunately or unfortunately we are in the “business” of making films and we look for films which can entertain, which is and should always be the primary concern.

Shreyas you are also a producer now, how different and challenging is this role for you?

Production has definitely been exciting for me. Subhash (Ghai) ji was the one who prodded me into production. The first film that we produced was with his company Mukta Arts and that was when I learned a lot about production. Till that time, I was purely an actor. I would go to set, work and come back home. But if you are into production then you are looking into every little detail and you are connected with every person working on the film. So it is a huge responsibility. There are a lot of last minute calls, last minute decisions to be made. One’s risk taking ability improves, decision making ability improves. You tend to think from each person’s point of view. But having said that, as an actor-producer now you come to know what other people are going through, the actors, technicians etc. and you become more empathetic. Your whole approach changes. Being a producer has taught me a lot more than what I learned as just an actor.