Excerpts from the conversation that transpired:
Rahul, How did Mugdha and you find each other?
Rahul: A friend of mine owns a matrimonial site. I was at his wedding, which Mugdha was attending. I was from the groom’s side and she was from the bride’s side.
Mugdha, add on to that. How did the relationship become sweet and strong?
Mugdha: I don’t know how it grew. We just hit it off almost immediately. FYI, we celebrate our anniversary on July 3- the day we first met. After that there was no looking back. We both have the same spiritual master and that added on.
Rahul: There are a lot of overlaps, yet there are two different individuals having different pursuits.
Mugdha, I saw your WhatsApp DP. It says: ‘Nothing of my own, All his grace’…
Mugdha: That’s my master Tarneiv’s quote. It’s all his grace that everything in my life has panned out beautifully. I met Rahul and imagine, 16 days after that, Tarneiv visited India.
Rahul: We have learnt to believe in ourselves. When I met my master first, I was in complete chaos- having lost my partner and having a small child to look after. Today, I was one of the earliest to resume in times of pandemic- June 24.
I had a difficult phase in 2009 and I had gone away from movies. It was a 4-year gap and it’s not easy to come back once you go away. I love working- a quality which comes from my father- a legendary cop who worked till he was 81. Let us treasure what we have. I see actors cribbing and I just say ‘mat aao na, lakhon log hai jinke paas woh nahi hai jo aapko mila hai’. Today, I feel very happy about life and am always grateful about whatever we have.
Rahul, it must have been very tough on you as a single parent especially because your son was very small then?
Initially, woh word ‘tough’ mujhe bahut ‘tough’ lagta tha. As a parent, my role would be that of a provider. But if you have brief appearances because of your job, ek hota hai na ki horse riding pe ya kahin aur le jaana hai, toh woh I wasn’t able to do. I have had a filmography of a kind which gave me a chance to shoot only 3 films in Mumbai- ‘Bhagat Singh Shaheed’, ‘Footpath’ and ‘Bardaasht’.
Hum dono ke saath ek haadsa hua tha and I had to mask my grief. If you are self-hurting, what help can you provide? After 2013 however, things became better especially our master after Tarneiv came to India.
Rahul, did you have to leave several films while you played the single parent?
Rahul: Many movies. Mera naam credit titles mein third aane laga tha. By then, I had established myself, having a solid Hindi and Telugu market with a bit of Malayalam too.
Rahul: I would always credit (late) Paintal saab which helped me to overcome the language barrier. The project was called Gibberish and I had to portray a situation that villains have left me on a railway track, high and dry, and I am struggling. I was greeted with a roar when I finished. I will never forget my early roots.
Mugdha, you started in 2008. How would you describe your journey so far?
It has turned out interesting and my graph has always looked upwards. You learn through you career. I am very happy with my journey. Whatever came my way, I gave it my best. I get a feeling that it’s just the beginning.
Mugdha, put your hand on one of your films that you treasure the most…
Fashion was my first film and everything fell into place very well.
Rahul, if i was to ask you the same question that I just asked Mugdha?
I have done 112 films, still the first one remain special. I still remember the days when I started. Those days models were looked down upon; they were considered as wooden. I have lot of gratitude for Mukul Anand who first cast me in ‘Dus’. ‘Champion’ sort of settled me but that also came because of ‘Dus’. Frankly speaking, I see my journey in two different environments- yesterday’s independent producers and today’s corporates.
You mentioned the 2 environments. Do you both think that the change has brought in a phase wherein Bollywood’s stories have become weaker and songs have lost melody…
I think cinema has evolved. See Vicky Kaushal, Nawazuddin Siddiqui. Look at Akshay Kumar’s movies then and now. Screemplay is very natural and relatable. Will today’s generation associate with Amar Akbar Anthony? And, it’s not that the larger-than-life movies have ceased to exist- take Bajrangi Bhaijaan for example, what a shaandar film!
But yes, I would agree with you on the music aspect, there are too many remixes.
Mugdha: Cinema has changed and so have the other things around it.
Mugdha, do you tell Rahul to take it easy when it comes to doing action scenes….
Mugdha: He knows his job. I do get anxious sometimes and I tell my staff to keep ice ready if he gets hurt anytime.
Rahul: Mera director jo chaha raha hai na for me to enact, mera kaam hai woh poora karna hai.
Future assignments, Rahul?
Poison 2, Torbaaz, Who’s your Daddy Series. I am then starting a whodunnit helmed by Samar Khan, set in Rajasthan. There’s more too.
Beta kya kar raha hai, Rahul?
He’s in London, studying abroad, He has really surprised me by manging everything by himself, including his academics.
Rahul: It’s nice to see both of them (son and Mugdha) in my life together.