Filmmaker Rahul Mittra started his journey in Bollywood with Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster 10 years ago. Having been behind the camera and in front of it, he has gained key insight into the Hindi industry as a whole. Rahul recently joined NewsX for a candid chat for its special segment NewsX A-list, wherein he talked about not only his upcoming projects and prevalence of nepotism in Bollywood but also his Covid-19 experience.

Sharing his Covid-19 experience, Rahul Mittra said, “My family and I just recovered from Covid-19 after nearly 15 days of testing positive. We don’t know how it happened. We just shifted in a new home. Within just 15-20 days of that, my wife tested positive, followed by my son and then me. My daughter and our cook were the only one who didn’t contract the virus. We went into complete isolation. It feels grateful to come out of it.”

Rahul Mittra recently found himself and Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster trending on Twitter. When asked about the story behind the trend, he responded, “On 30th September, exactly 9 years ago, Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster was released. I was feeling very nostalgic so I put out a tweet and tagged everyone associated with the film. I offered gratitude to everyone. Before I knew, I started trending and people started calling me. With all humility, I was amazed at the response.”

Before becoming a filmmaker, Rahul was a journalist. Sharing his experience of making the transition between the two industries and entering Bollywood, he revealed, “I started my career as a journalist and then I shifted towards brand management, promotions etc. I believe in ‘What you seek is seeking you’. I feel cinema and entertainment was pulling me towards it. There are two types of filmmakers – one who are a product of cinema and other who are product of life. I am very proud to say that I am a product of life. It just happened and it was very organic. All of us work hard to achieve our goals but I have really enjoyed this journey. I decided to make a film on one fine day and went ahead. We completed the film in 28 days in Gujarat and I think the result was crazy. We swept all the awards and the film became one of the sleeper hits of 2011. “

Was it beginners luck? Rahul says, “When I look back, everything didn’t go well. In my case, it was all upside down. Tigmanshu Dhulia was a friend. We got talking about Saheb Biwi Aur Ghulam. We started discussing about how the society has changed over the years. Before i knew, I started scouting for a location. We had a concept and then we started looking for a location followed by story and then the actors. It was destined like that. It was my passion. It worked out well for everyone associated with the project.”

The filmmaker is now gearing up for his upcoming film Torbaaz with Sanjay Dutt. Calling Torbaaz a film on triumph of human spirit, he expressed, “It is a very special project for all of us. It is a beautiful story on suicide bomber kids and how Sanjay Dutt transforms their life to cricket. It is triumph of the human spirit. When I started making films, I was very intrigued by the journey of characters. We all are aiming for triumph, triumph over evil or triumph of human spirit. I feel it very beautiful. It was very difficult to shoot this film, since it involved multiple locations and extreme weather conditions. But it is a very special and beautiful film. It will be a Netflix Original later this year and releasing in over 90 countries and multiple languages.”

Opening up about how he felt extremely disturbed after seeing multiple speculations around Sanjay Dutt’s health, Rahul added, “Sanju is like an elder brother. When the speculation started regarding his health in the media, I was very pained. I feel that we as a society have become very intolerant about everything. Why would we want to wish anything like that upon anyone?! I got a call from a top newspaper. I just blasted saying that nobody has the right to speculate. Has he said he has 4th stage cancer? All we can do is pray for his good health. He is not just a survivor but he is a warrior and he will be back with a bang really soon. “

In recent times, several allegations have been levelled against Bollywood, with a key focus on nepotism. Rahul, on the other hand, opines that one should keep politics and nepotism away from cinema. He opines, “When I was entering the industry, there were so many people, who were not even remotely linked with the entertainment industry, saying ‘what are you doing, whom are you placing your bets on, what will happen’. Look at me, I have completed 10 years in the industry. It has been a beautiful journey. Problems like nepotism are prevalent in the society. They are prevalent in corporate world, politics, everywhere but you can’t just target something. According to me, Nepotism can only shorten your queue but, after that, everyone is on their own. Same is the case with nepotism. Your queue can be shortened but you cannot do well if audiences don’t like you or your content doesn’t cater to the sensitivities of the people. Content and context is king. Cinema is the most interactive form of art. Everybody around the world is touched by cinema. Keep politics and nepotism away from cinema. Just enjoy the celebration of art. “

On a parting note, NewsX asked Rahul to share his acting plans since he is now gearing up to play an Afghan army head in Torbaaz. He said, “As far as acting, I played a small roles in the Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster series. I also had a role in Revolver Rani. It has been fun. It is often the directors and actors telling me to do a certain part. Sanjay Dutt and Girish Khan felt I should play this role and this will be my first proper acting assignment. Yesterday, I got an offer to play a role in a web series for a very prominent OTT platform. It is something I enjoy doing. I love to be behind the camera and now I am enjoying being in front of the camera. Once things normalise, I will get back to my other films.”