Rahul Dev (52) may have marked himself as a dreadful antagonist on screen, but the role he seems to have excelled in is the one he plays off-screen. A single parent to his 23-year-old son, Sidhant, he has been playing the role of the perfect dad for over two decades now and has proved that consistency is the key.
Rahul lost his wife Rina in 2009, leaving behind their son Sidhant. Recalling how his life changed after his wife’s demise, Rahul says, “Rina was a brilliant mother and an accomplished woman. She was a very giving person. People tend to praise the one who is not there a little more, but I'm not going to do that, I'll be very logical. When someone like that goes away from your life, it feels like a tent on three legs, the main peg is missing, and the whole thing just collapses.”
For Rahul, fatherhood is all about being a hands-on parent. After doing over a hundred films, he’s a very conscientious father who is aware that his son needs nothing but time. “Right from the late '90s I've been travelling non-stop, even before that as a model. I would hardly be in Mumbai. It was more like a Santa Claus upbringing and to overcome the guilt, I brought him gifts,” he says.
“I am giving zero points to myself. It has been a collective journey. If you calculate and do the math, and count the number of days, the actual time frame for family has been ridiculously low. The love is there but what is love — you want to be a responsible parent who puts your foot down for career, but because you were away, you tended to be the one who was pampered,” he adds.
Speaking about his relationship with his son and being a single father, Rahul says, “I don't have a 9 to 5 job that I can drop my child off at school, meet him often. My work is such that I'm always absent. I remember, in most of the parent-teacher meetings I used to be the only man but I got used to it. Now, he has a degree, he's very accomplished, and he did it all on his own. I am always there but it's like we are two independent people now. My son has been super adaptable.”
Elaborating on what makes one an ideal father, Rahul points out, “A father is someone you can reach out to, confide in when there's an issue, ideally it should be that aspect. If it isn't there from your earlier years, it can be difficult. I've been a single dad and I've really tried my best. Even then, the patience one needs, I won't say it was there all the time. Hearing the other person is the key that was also missing. But now, I try and give that to Sidhant.”
Reminiscing his childhood days and the “very little” time spent with his own father, a police officer, Rahul asserts that his old man was a disciplinarian. “I would only get to see him at night. It was difficult for me to understand back then when I was growing up. He just wanted his children to be around. He never had a Sunday. I've seen him go to work every day. We knew the jeep or the vehicle he was coming in and when we’d hear its sound nearing, we would automatically open our books. However, he would never ask us how we were at our studies, not even our grades. He was awarded by the late Indira Gandhi ji, got a gallantry award by the then President. He was a selfless and committed man,” Rahul adds.
When asked what personality trait he has imbibed from him, Rahul says that it is the idea to simply work. “I feel like I'm a horse and I'm the best when I'm occupied.”
“I know we're talking about Father’s Day but honestly mothers are far better when it comes to parenting. Everyone has to be a great dad by default, what is the choice? I have tried, sincerely. I make mistakes... sometimes overthink. But one thing is for sure, my son has had a cushioned life in some areas. However, given the fact that he didn't have a mother since he was 11, the luxury has no value whatsoever. Both our parents are irreplaceable. One cannot fill the void for the other,” he signed off.