Nothing seems to faze this young star. In fact it seems he's hardly even noticed his own versatility as he has made a seamless transition from his mute Bolo Raam character to doing more versatile roles not only in Bollywood or in films down South, but also for a French production. When Soham pointed out that he's doing variety and in different genres, he says, “With actors, the only time we talk about genres is when we're promoting a film and debating it with journalists,” smiles Rishi Bhutani who started his career with Bolo Raam that was his own home production. Here he tells Soham Siddharth how he does it in a brief chat.
Soham Siddharth Tell us something about Rishi Bhutani - the person / the actor
Rishi Bhutani: As me - the person, I change myself according to circumstances. I've learned how to control situations better now. You keep learning all the time that's what life is all about. As Rishi Bhutani - the actor, well should say, it's a bit tricky question. But yes, before I act, I really like to get to know everything possible about the character that I'm playing. I can't perform just for the sake of it. But I have heard (though I did not have to face it yet) that sometimes with many big banners, it happens that you don't know the whole story. You know only 'your' scene and what you are doing and I feel it's a great exercise for an actor to play things for face value. But said so, I would love to have a tight bound script as opposed to “this is the scene where I'm supposed to do this that way” as it works with television serials.
Tell us about your family background and your qualifications.
I come from a business background and my qualifications don't match at all that goes to be an actor. Well, I did my Bachelors in Computers and then did my M.Sc. in Computer Science. However, my mind keeps shifting from one thing to another. Once I completed my studies in IT, I thought of doing something else, which would be more interesting to me, and bestowed naturally with good looks, I thought of a career in acting. This in a way, you can say, I found my calling in acting.
To debut with my own home production was not exactly a choice. My elder brother wanted to start a production company and having someone back home who is keen for acting, we thought why not? That laid the foundation of our own home production - Bolo Raam - which was my debut film. Currently we are working on another project with Shyam Benegal and making a serial for Doordarshan, for which I'm handling the production.
You also did a Kannada (Maarichaa) and a Tamil (PulippuInippu). How do you choose a film?
PulippuInippu released in December and the response was very good. I am getting good offers from down South. Many speak about the differences in South Film industry vis a vis Bollywood in terms of working styles. However, I didn't find any difference. The only thing that I was a bit wary earlier was of the communication language. But after doing a Kannada and a Tamil, I don't mind trying other regional languages of the South which is the hub today of real good films.
As for doing a Bollywood or a South film, it certainly doesn't factor in my thought process. I don't go thinking - I want to do a romantic comedy, so only show me romcoms from now on. What I really look for is a good role with impact when I'm picking a role. I just look for a good script and that is what really matters to me.
You were shooting in Reunion Islands for a French film. How did this happen?
We always talk about French connection and now I have one. 3 months back I went to France. My short film was selected there and I got the best actor award all thanks to Mr. Mukesh Kaneri (NIFF) and Miss Marianne Borgo. It's a thriller film. I am playing an Indian guy who comes from India for an assignment, then things start to go wrong. Can't say anymore about it right now as I am bound by a contract.
So going from the big budget films to Shorts. What made you try them out?
I would say, Short films are the new age cinema of today's times. LOC and Office are the two short films that I have acted in and these are still making its round at various film festivals and bringing in accolades. It's another fact totally that I put in my everything irrespective it was a short or a feature. I totally believe it's a new age of cinema and many short films are also clubbed together and are released these days - be it Bombay Talkies or Dus Kahaaniyaan. What is needed most is the honesty in designing a project and if that translates onto screen, you have a winning entry. Let me also tell you that I received this French film (that I was doing) through Nashik International Film Festival. So, in a way, every good work pays.
What projects are you working on now?
I would love to tell you as much as I can but I can't tell you much! There's one big project that I can't talk about because I'm not allowed to. Meanwhile, I have already finished shooting for my French film and right now I'm headed straight to Delhi for the shooting for my next film with Manoj Nautiyal. I'm missing Mumbai terribly.
Your favourite films / actors, people who have inspired you.
I love reincarnation films and I'm a big fan of Rakesh Roshan, he is the best. My family inspires me a lot, they are my greatest supporters. Right in my debut film, I had the opportunity to work with stalwarts like Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri and Padmini Kolhapure. They are institutions in acting. However, it's my dream to be working with Govinda - he's one of the best in my opinion and my favorite.
What challenges one has to face in this profession?
It's as good as any other profession; it does however require a lot of focus and patience. You need to be passionate about what you want to achieve. Our film industry accepts anyone that is sincere about their work. Just give your 100% you will achieve what you want in life.
What advice might you have for any young actors trying to make their way into movies?
I think the main thing is that you really have to study and train. Because I think what happens is that if you've really got a good look or if you've got natural talent, talent is not enough, particularly in this day and age. So you may have a particular look but that look may go out of style at some point. Training and skills are the things that will sustain you over time or else it may get more competitive later on. So just try and train and do as many things as you can. Try and have as many experiences as possible, because at the end of the day that's the kind of thing that will keep you in the game. You can be given an opportunity but if you can't capitalize on it that's where the difficult part comes in.
Your Motto in life and what you believe in?
Life is full of surprises; accept whatever may come your way. There is a deep logic behind everything that happens, which we cannot understand at the moment because it's written by God.
That's Rishi for you - eager to please and happy to be working, with not a trace of the ego that could come with working not only in our industry but also for the French film industry. Meanwhile, one of his films “Jai Jawan Jai Kisaan” released this month where he shared screen space again with Om Puri who’s playing Dr. Rajendra Prasad while he is playing Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.
Right now, as Rishi prepares for another spin with ‘Zindagi Jhinga La La Re” this time in Delhi with Manoj Mautiyal, he admits that he is not going after volume of jobs: “I'm going after quality. There are a couple of movies I did in the past, but right now my focus is only on quality.” And we wish him all the best and hope he shines like a star in one of the biggest movie franchise of all time.