Rohit Bose Roy has had a few film outings, but he has been lucky to land good roles in films. The actor had an important part in Sanjay Gupta’s Mumbai Saga, which was released in March 2021 during the second lockdown, and is now all set to don the director’s hat for a musical that is being backed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali. In an exclusive chat, Rohit, who hails from television background, shares his views on how he is a director at heart, success going to his head many years ago and films releasing directly on OTT platforms. Excerpts:
Are you a bit disheartened because Mumbai Saga was released during the second wave of the pandemic?
Of course! After putting in hard work for one-and-a-half years and achieving a leaner physique, working out in the gym for six months, you feel a bit bad that the film had to release during the second wave of COVID-19. From a regular physique, I worked towards a six-pack, and the film had a star like John Abraham, so you feel bad that not many people could come and watch it in theatres. Nevertheless, people are watching films on OTT platforms, so I feel good about that. We hope that things will improve and people will flock to theatres to watch a movie on the big screens.
You have essayed grey characters earlier, but you played a villain in the Hrithik Roshan-starrer Kaabil. Do you feel negative characters have helped you find a place in Bollywood?
I was chosen to play a villain against a superstar like Hrithik Roshan. Who wouldn’t want to act in the film? Many people called me after Kaabil, expressing shock and disbelief over how I could have enacted that role. So, in a way, I surprised the masses and I feel good about it. There are many more shades in grey or negative characters and if I look convincing, why not?
You are turning director with a musical that’s being backed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s….
Many years ago, I had directed a short story, Rice Plate, in the film Dus Kahaaniyan. I started my career as an actor, and thankfully, it also kept my kitchen running for so many years, but I am a director at heart. I had also assisted Sanjay Leela Bhansali on Bajirao Mastani. It’s a coaching class on acting when you are on his sets. Due to the pandemic, the musical I am directing has taken some time, but it will go on floors soon. It is a human-interest story that revolves around a father-son relationship. I am excited about the project.
Are you happy with the way your career in films has shaped up? Do you feel it takes TV actors longer to make it in Bollywood?
Many years ago, I had asked Anurag Basu why wasn’t he casting me in his films, and he had joked, ‘People watch you for free on television, why would they pay money to watch you in a film in theatres?’ That was quite a shocker, but I understood his viewpoint. Having said that, I am one of those few actors who has continued doing films and television simultaneously. Now, lines are blurring, and you can bag great projects in both the mediums and web shows are an added blessing. Secondly, I would not blame anyone for my films not doing well at the box office or not bagging interesting projects, because after I did Swabhimaan (TV show), success had gone to my head. I have only started working hard in the last decade. When I did Swabhimaan, I was spoken about as the next big star, I felt I would be the next Shah Rukh Khan. So, if my career took a backseat for few years, it is because of my own assumptions and allowing success to go to my head. I was a very bad actor and never took work seriously. If I had put in the kind of effort other successful actors put many years ago, I would have been somewhere else. I am happy that I am now getting to do interesting work in OTT and films. Maybe, I am one of those few actors who has survived it and doing good work for the last 25 years.