• Published 14.10.17
Rahul Bose at CC&FC on Sunday. Picture: Arnab Mondal

The 84th All India & South Asia Rugby Tournament Men & Women, being held in association with The Telegraph at CC&FC, had a special guest on October 8. Actor and rugby pro Rahul Bose. From rugby lessons to life lessons and more... a candid chat with t2. 

What’s the best thing about the tournament?

This is the only inter-club tournament at the national level. You could call it like an EPL. This is also the only tournament where you can get two foreigners in each team. And CC&FC is one of the homes of Indian rugby. CC&FC and Bombay Gymkhana are two great nurseries of Indian rugby. I have been playing rugby for almost 35 years and I played this tournament many times. Last year I had a knee surgery and I just missed this tournament because my knee became absolutely fit too late. Next year I will play.

Rugby is now quite popular among youngsters in Calcutta. What do you think is the reason behind this growing popularity?

I guess the reason is that now there is a general greater awareness around sports in the country because of the leagues that have started. So now the idea that you can play a sport and do well in a sport is something that’s much easier to understand and digest. Rugby is the only sport in the country where the nationals are held for both men and women on the same ground with the same facilities at the same time.

Why is rugby a great game for youngsters to take up?

Many sports foster team spirit but none like rugby. It demands constant physical and emotional engagement with the team. Rugby is like a pressure-cooker atmosphere from the first second to the last. Within that atmosphere your best side comes out — loyalty, sacrifice, concentration, sticking to the strategy, focus. No other team sport has such extreme physical and mental pressure. This game teaches you that you cannot do anything in this world alone. In rugby if you try to play alone, you will actually die. I am an individualist. I am not a team player by nature. I like doing things on my own. But this sport has beaten me senseless and made me understand that no one ever can do anything alone. This sport has taught me more than my parents. It has taught me some very profound life lessons.

Your favourite rugby player…

So many… Dan Carter, Philippe Sella, Serge Blanco....

Which team do you support in the rugby World Cup?

When I started playing rugby, I loved the French. I loved the way they played. They are like Brazil of football. You have to support them. But All Blacks are All Blacks. The passion and the humility that those men have, the skill and the superior way of thinking that they have is a lesson. 

Where do you see Indian rugby in the next five years?

Nothing will happen in five years. But I see us breaking into the Olympics in about 20 years.

You are in Calcutta on a day when the city is making history by hosting a Fifa World Cup match for the first time...

It’s absolutely phenomenal that we are hosting the U-17 World Cup. It doesn’t matter how the Indian team fares, events like these become lightning conductors for more kids to join the game. 

Coming to the actor Rahul Bose, what do you look for in a script now?

I have done Bengali, Kannada, Tamil, English and Malayalam films, the rest are Hindi films… so how do you explain? It doesn’t really matter. I am not an actor who acts for money; I have never been that actor. I have acted because I have loved it so much. I treat it with great sanctity. So, whatever I do, I make sure I make a difference to the movie, the story. ‘Rahul na thakle ki hoto? Kicchui hoto na’... that doesn’t make me feel good. Whatever it is, it has to be substantial and crucial to the story.... I am going to direct for the rest of my life. Acting will happen when I get something really good.

Are you working on a new script?

Yeah... it is about one woman and set in a Bombay slum. I have spoken to a top actress of the Hindi film industry. She loved the story and now she is reading the script. And if all goes well we will make this film in April, between April and August.

We know about your love for road races...

I love road races for the kind of city spirit it fosters. A road race is a most democratic form of community building through sports in the world. There is no hierarchy in participants, no hierarchy in coaching, no hierarchical system of talent, anybody can run. So, immediately it is an equalising force. 

Are you loving any new fitness routine?

Yeah, what I have started after my knees have become okay is this tough and challenging routine where I do TRX. I do it twice a week and I do sprints and some selective power work. Physiotherapists have told me how to get things together.

Finally, what’s break time like for you?

First of all my work doesn’t feel like work so I don’t need a holiday.... I am here in Calcutta for a meeting, and then I am going to the Andamans.... I have decided one day I will do scuba diving. I went to Dublin for a film festival and took a day off to go see where James Joyce wrote Ulysses. I will be going to Athens and definitely check out the great sights.

Ayan Paul and Samabrita Sen