Having passed out from an Engineering College (Electronics), Rahul Dev Shetty who stands tall as the bad boy on celluloid, began his career as a Telecom Engineer at United Breweries Ltd. His foray into the Indian fashion industry began as a model 25 years ago. His forte then expanded to include direction and choreography of fashion shows, model co-ordination and compering entertainment and corporate events. As a model he walked the ramp in over 400 shows in India and overseas. For the last 22 years, he has been exclusively directing and choreographing fashion events for designers and corporate clients across the country and abroad.
He also choreographed actor Amitabh Bachchan for the launch function of Aankhen 2. He has choreographed many fashion shows for JD Institute, NIFT besides many prestigious brands and designers in India and also internationally. He started his career in the world of cinema with Station and was seen later in Lekar Hum Deewana Dil followed by a stellar role in Lalbagh that released last year with Mamta Mohandas. Rahul made his mark on the screen yet again playing the bad boy in Trigger.
1. Tell us about your growing up days. What was your dream career in your childhood days?
Parents were in the banking sector, so we had a lot of transfers. I grew up in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Bangalore. I was a good student and at different phases of my childhood wanted to be a pilot, a cricketer and an actor.
2. When and how did the journey towards being an actor happen?
As a model in the 90s, I was selected by Rajendra Singh Babu to play a delinquent in his mega starrer “Mahakshtriya” with the legend Vishnu Vardhan, Sonu Walia and Sudha Rani in the lead. I went on to do a few more Kannada films and then moved to Mumbai to try my luck there.
3. How challenging was it to carve out a niche for yourself?
It was an interesting phase of my life. When I look back those struggles seem as life lessons. Being dark skinned in the 90s came with its share of prejudices and rejections. Also, my family members felt I was wasting my engineering degree as I had quit United Breweries as a marketing Engineer to pursue modelling and films in Mumbai.
4. What were the challenges? How did you overcome them?
I just kept working at my goals. I presume tenacity is one of my strong points, also malleability I guess as I kept my eyes and ears open for challenging opportunities and took them on. That’s how I got into choreography and then much later into acting again after a long gap. Thanks to Covid.
5. What have been some of the biggest highpoints of your journey so far?
There were a few infact, but the high of getting to work and direct my childhood hero Amitabh Bachchan for a fashion segment at a movie launch, is something I will always cherish dearly.
6. Were there any kind of apprehensions entering the field of cinema or was it a cakewalk?
The usual apprehensions, will I get work, will I get the lines right in a different language, will I be able to hold and portray such a big role convincingly were my concerns.
7. What is your vision and dream in this field that you are in now?
To do good work, with able, intelligent directors and not get typecast in a particular character. Also, I am having fun acting at this stage in my life and would love to explore the intricacies of the craft in a more deeper sense.
8. How do you like to keep a work life balance? How do you maintain calm and keep going?
Well by not biting off more than what I can chew. I do need time off between my projects and always do that. I love my travel and spending time with a close set of friends and watching films and shows on OTT is how I destress.
9. Please also share any fun or intense experiences from the shoot of Lalbagh?
There was this one incident which was hilarious while shooting Lalbagh. We were shooting on Old Madras Road in Bangalore, near the Hanging bridge at 7am to avoid traffic, but the traffic had gotten pretty busy by then and the rigging of cameras on our cop jeep was taking time and this had attracted a crowd. We were waiting for our shot in a nearby vehicle and away from the crowd and jeep, when a couple of cops came by and started harassing the crew for permissions to shoot and to move the vehicle as it was hindering traffic. Around this time we were called for our shot and my co-actor and I proceeded towards our vehicle in full uniform (ACP and circle inspector). As soon as these two real cops saw us they stood in attention and saluted us! The crowd erupted in peals of laughter and so did the crew too as we got in the jeep cheekily and drove off leaving the real cops befuddled!
10. Please also share any fun or intense experiences from the shoot of Trigger?
In Trigger there was this intense rain scene being shot inside a prison, it was a kabbadi match where one of the prison gang leaders is planning to kill me and the shoot was at night. We started shooting around 7pm and there were a lot of actors and extras in the scene. Every time the rain sprinklers would come on the extras who were watching and cheering the kabaddi match, they would run for cover and this would delay the shoot with multiple retakes. We were now shooting well into the night and around 2 am, I started getting cold with constantly being drenched in the artificial rain and couldn’t recite my dialogues as my whole body was shivering and teeth were chattering. I remember the camera man getting me to sit under their lights and par cans. The shoot was stopped for half an hour while I sipped on a hot beverage. We wrapped that scene at 6am that day. It’s not easy working in films, but I absolutely love the process of filmmaking!
11. What is your fitness routine like?
When I am not working I get a 45 minutes workout on an elliptical and probably an hour of walk in the evening, but while shooting it gets difficult to get a workout as most locations are far away from the hotel and we have to learn our lines for the next day too!
12. Do you think the industry tends to typecast stars into certain roles they are good at? What would your dream role be?
Typecasting is pretty common, as producers invest a lot of money to make films and don’t want to take a risk on an actor, with a different role, especially if the audiences have liked the actor in a particular role. I haven’t thought about what my dream role is, because I’m still taking baby steps in this industry. Maybe in a few years I would be able to answer that.
13. What are the projects you’re working on currently?
I’m shooting two Hindi web series at the moment. One is called Rocket Boys and the other one is titled Scam 2003. I have also signed a couple of Hindi films with some accomplished directors, but I can’t talk about it until release time as I have signed a non-disclosure agreement with them. I’m also looking at a few projects in the south film industry.
14. What are your future plans?
I’ve learnt to take my life one step at a time. I am enjoying this journey, so I’m not taking any unnecessary pressure. I also have a few fashion shows lined up to direct, so it’s all good and the future certainly looks very bright from where I am standing right now!