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Aparna and I fought a lot while making this film

Last updated on: April 6, 2010 17:59 IST

'Aparna and I fought a lot while making The Japanese Wife'


Patcy N in Mumbai

Talk about a partnership.

Mr and Mrs Iyer and 15 Park Avenue, director Aparna Sen's first two films with Rahul Bose, were well-received award winners. Now comes The Japanese Wife, the duo's third collaboration together, which hits theatres this Friday.

The Japanese Wife also stars Raima Sen, Moushumi Chatterjee and Japanese actress Chigusa Takaku. The bilingual film (English and Hindi) is an adaptation of Kunal Basu's novel of the same name, and was shot in both Japan and the Sunderbans of West Bengal.

Patcy N asks Rahul Bose why he loves to work with director Aparna Sen. Excerpts:

What made you say yes to The Japanese Wife?

It is a beautiful film. If people liked Mr and Mrs Iyer and the love story and romance in that film, then I would tell them that The Japanese Wife is the most lovely, beautiful, sensitive film of my career.

It is a story of two people, one of whom, Snehmoy, is a very shy, simple and almost invisible character. That's who I play. He writes letters to a girl named Miyage, who lives on the outskirts of Yokohama in Japan, at the age of 17 and this process carries on.

Neither of them has money, so they can only write letters. But they save their money so that once a year they can call and talk over the phone.

One day Snehmoy tells Miyage that his aunt wants him to marry, as he is now at a marriageable age. Miyage says, "Why don't we marry each other?" She asks him to send a sindoor and bangles. And in return she sends him a Japanese wedding ring. They get married, and agree to meet as soon as possible. But for the next 17 years of their married life they are unable to meet.

The story of the film was so endearing. I had never heard or seen any love story like this, which is what attracted me to the film.

Image: Rahul Bose in The Japanese Wife


'I was convinced that I would not be able to do the role'

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What were your inputs for the character Snehmoy?

The character Snehmoy has turned out the way Aparna had originally fleshed it out. But there are few things that have been added by me, as I played the character. In the scenes where Aparna had written 'Snehmoy is eating', it was up to me to decide how Snehmoy would eat. Or if she had written 'he is walking', it was up to me to decide how he would walk.

How difficult was it to play the role?

If a role scares you or makes you feels insecure or if you know in your mind that you will not be able to do it, it means that role is very difficult to portray. I got all these feelings and had the same kind of experience when I was doing The Japanese Wife, and when Aparna Sen first time told me that I would be doing this role.

I was convinced that I would not be able to do the role, but then I took it as just one more challenge in my life, like all the other challenges I've faced. For example, nobody thought that a 5 foot 5 inch boy could play international rugby, but I did.

When faced with such challenges, the only thing one can do is to put in hard work.

To do this role of Snehmoy and add the proper characteristics, I took a few things from my dad and a few from one of my uncles. I also got a few things from a cook and a few from a villager. But even if I took things from various people, the soul of the character was added by Aparna Sen, the director.

Image: A scene from The Japanese Wife

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'Raima is a very easy going girl'

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What is Raima's role in the film?

Raima plays Sandhya, a good friend of Snehmoy's aunt. She is a widow and has a kid, and she stays in Snehmoy's house, as she needs shelter.

Snehmoy never talks to her, but eventually becomes attracted to her and feels guilty, as he is already married. He tells his Japanese wife about it.

This is the type of story that will have all the young girls and women coming to the theatres to watch it. And once they like it they will bring their husbands, boyfriends and brothers to watch it.

This is my second film with Raima. I have done a Bengali film, Anuranan, with her. She's a very easy going girl. You don't have to discuss and ask questions before the shot, because she works with intuition and spontaneity and she is just good with her work.


Image: A scene from The Japanese Wife

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'While the film got delayed by nine months, it was time and money well-spent'

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In real life did you ever have a pen friend?

In 1985, I was 17, and had a girlfriend who was 16.  She had to leave for America for further studies. In those days, there was no Internet, so after she went I had to write to her on aerogram (air letters).

I would write her every week, 30 aerograms a year, and she would come for vacation for three months to India. So I wrote her about 120 aerograms in four years.

Then there was another long distant friend whom I wrote religiously, but by then emails had arrived and it became easier. Plus, I could call my friends and talk to them.

In the film, Snehmoy is poor. He saves money just to make one call a year to Miyage. All his calls to Miyage are very funny. Sometimes he can't hear. Sometimes his call gets disconnected. But the money keeps on rolling and he has to pay more.

Why was the film delayed?

When the first edit came out, everyone thought that the film had the chance to make the round of international festivals and to become a nice art house film. So lots of people said, "If you work on it, it will be a nice cross-over film."

So that's what they did. Now, the final edit has shaped out well. So while the film got delayed by nine months, it was time and money well-spent.

Image: A scene from The Japanese Wife

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'The Japanese Wife is more beautiful than Mr and Mrs Iyer'

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This is your third film with Aparna Sen. How was it working with her?

Aparna and I fought a lot while making this film, because we are so comfortable with each other. We would start yelling, but it was all deeply rooted in love, respect and trust. Ultimately, we wanted to make a fantastic film.

You, Aparna and Konkona [Sen Sharma, Aparna's daughter] did two films together -- Mr and Mrs Iyer and 15 Park Avenue. Are there any more in the pipeline?

I don't think so, because Konkona and I have done Dil Kabbadi together too, which was directed by Anil Sharma. That pairing might be a little stale. Also, Aparna and Konkona have just finished shooting Iti Mrinalini.

So if we three have to work together again, then the script should be really good and I would like to wait for another year.

Why do you think audiences should come to watch the film?

If my audience loved Mr and Mrs Iyer and they agree that it is a beautiful love story, they will certainly agree that The Japanese Wife is more beautiful. It's a gentle and funny love story.

Image: A scene from The Japanese Wife

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