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A Champion at Phoenix...

Photo: S. Arneja.

SIMPLE AS SPINACH: Rahul Dev enjoys his food at Le Meridien's Phoenix restaurant in New Delhi.

ONE LOOK at his mesmerising hazel eyes and you can easily lose yourself to the thoughts of oceanic depth or the equanimity of a Himalayan lake. Little would you realise that these eyes belong to a person, for whom murder, treachery and guile are instruments needed to survive. Welcome to the make belief world of movies, welcome to the world of Rahul Dev, who was recently in New Delhi to promote his upcoming movies "88 Antop Hill", an edge of the seat thriller and "Supaari", a story of four graduates from high society.

A quick chat with the model-turned-actor at Le Meridien's Phoenix restaurant however reveals that he is still a simple, soft-hearted, hard-working guy next-door. Time is a rare commodity for him but Chinese food is too tempting for him. The food-loving Rahul gets the better of the self-abnegating Rahul as he settles in for vegetarian soup. " The soup is great. I believe it has some spinach in it and I love spinach. Isn't spinach written all over my face," he asks.

Another sip gets him rolling. "I can be a great cop. After all my dad is a cop," asserts the former St. Columba's student who is dawning the khakis in two of his upcoming movies. Ask him why, despite all this, he has attempted to redefine villainy in movies such as "Champion", "Aashique" and "Awaara Paagal Deewaana" and he is quick to reply, "I certainly won't be appreciated playing the sugar-coated hero with a rose".

His raw earthy looks, chiselled features and pumped up sinews only serve to establish that fact permanently in your mind. "But then my looks only catapulted me to wherever I am. Be it my modelling break or the chance to act, it is all due to my looks," adds the model who has been the face for numerous ad-campaigns including Raymonds and Park Avenue.

His looks might be God-gifted, his career might be the result of a streak of luck but when it comes to pumping iron the credit goes to him. "It's been nine years since I first started exercising back in my college days," says the hunk, who, went to an engineering college. "Besides I am particular about my diet. I go for carbohydrates in the morning and then follow it up with proteins. Eight to nine egg whites a day, lots of spinach and paneer are an absolute must," says the Popeye and Tom and Jerry fan before revealing that he turned vegetarian some time back. He tries to catch them for his son's sake but he himself likes watching cricket.

"I grew up dreaming about the 22-yards game. But as luck would have it, I was destined to walk on the ramp. I got my first modelling assignment while I was in a Delhi discotheque even though I had come back on a preparatory leave. Luck again played its part when Mukul Anand noticed me and offered a role in his movie `Dus'. He made me join an acting school and from thereon everything has just fit into place," he adds as he eyes the sumptuous snacks on the table.

But then luck doesn't always favour you. The actor is perhaps known as much for the movies that he didn't do as for the ones he did. Ask him if he regrets rejecting the roles in "Dushman" and "Mission Kashmir" and he says, "I would have certainly liked doing these roles, in fact I would give my right hand to work with Vinod Chopra, but I couldn't have accepted them then. So what's the use regretting now?" That's an interesting bit of philosophy from a person who claims to have read just three books in his life - the biographies of Charlie Chaplin, Marlon Brando and Imran Khan. But then, he is never short on anecdotes.

He would love to talk about his directors - Ramu and Paddu - the eclectic mix of pan-fried mushroom and baby corn that he would love to eat, etc., etc. but with him, time presses. He has to compromise on all these ideas, but on second thoughts he would love to come back to the restaurant some evening when he is free, to complete his lunch. Who said that actors don't have to strive hard?

S.M. YASIR

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