Hollywood is changing. That’s not too imply a negative connotation but rather that in the same way that Darwin taught us that evolution insures the longevity of a species, the modern film industry is adapting to the world around it. Consider director Zackary Fineman who found the star of his bromance film “Perfect Eyebrow” on Instagram, at least initially. Fineman needed a fit and handsome male lead to play the alpha in the film which juxtaposes two men who are judged by their appearance. The filmmaker scoured social media in hopes that a less conventional means of casting would reveal a fresh face. He found Rahul Naulakha. Beyond the actor’s obvious aesthetics, his skills would need vetting. Following meetings, the director cast Naulakha as the co-lead for the film…and two subsequent films due to his incredible performance. While Rahul has appeared in a number of films as the antagonist (a role which he prefers), in Fineman’s “Perfect Eyebrow” he gives a multifaceted performance as a character we seldom see in cinema, a man who is simplified by society based on his appearance with disregard for the sensitivity he possesses.
Perfect Eyebrows is a Bromance comedy starring Joshua Poole and Rahul Naulakha. Joshua plays a successful businessman with low self-esteem, particularly when it comes to his physical body image and dating women. Rahul plays his personal fitness trainer; a young and confident man at ease with the ladies. At the core of this film is the relationship the two men share and their willingness to be vulnerable with each other. While primarily a comedy, it also communicates that the view we have of others as compared to ourselves is not always the truth of the situation. Joshua only sees the “finished product” of Rahul but Rahaul reveals that this was not always the case and sometimes things are not as good as they seem. Prompting Joshua to strive for his goals, Rahul is a positive force on many levels. In one particularly funny and simultaneously sad scene, Rahul’s character reveals that he was so depressed and food dependent that he only left the house to visit a drive through for fast food. It’s often said but, a touch of sadness delivers the comedy with more impact. Naulakha navigates this with expertise in “Perfect Eyebrow.” Rahul states, “I definitely feel that the film has a sense of vulnerability and a way of showing that in the end we are all equal. No matter how we may look, it is the heart and mind that makes the final decision in the end. I was so drawn to the film because of this idea. Seeing two adult men being funny, pushing each other, and also sharing the things about themselves which makes them doubt who they are or what they can be…it’s a great opportunity as an actor to deliver all of this in one film. Zachary’s subtlety in doing this is what makes it work so well.”
Fineman confirms that Rahul exceeded his hopes for the role professing, “Rahul has a look that matches the type I needed for the character he portrays for the film but I needed someone who was able to deliver so much more than that. Rahul’s portrayal is both strong and then revealed to be very sensitive and caring. This might be easy for some actors to portray in a way that connects with the female fans, it’s much more challenging and difficult to communicate this in a way that the male audience members will connect with and let down their guard…feeling as if they can relax and let their real selves out. I couldn’t be more pleased with Rahul’s performance because he established this so well in ‘Perfect Eyebrows.’ I think it’s a story that most men relate to but are too self-conscious to speak about. Rahul is tough and sensitive at the same time, which can be precarious for the modern man, to say nothing of the modern male actor.”
There’s a sincerity that rings out in Rahul’s performance. This is delivered both by his skill as an actor and in this case, because he has lived it. A self-described skinny youth who became a fitness enthusiast in order to transform himself, Rahul is something of an inverse example of his character in the film (his character was overweight and then became fit). The same determination that he applied to his physical prowess he has focused on his acting career. With a number of productions to his credit (including Broken Mirror, Place Your Bet, Misinformant, and others) Naulakha has displayed on screen that his discipline as an actor equals that of his physicality. He concedes that his personal journey gave him insight into this role and made it a good fit for him. Rahul is adamant that appearance is the last thing he finds relevant in acting. He notes, “I believe that being fit makes me a healthier person, which is my motivation. The great thing about the TV and film industry these days is that it’s more embracing of different looks and body types, which is beneficial for actors. If you are healthy, that’s all that matters…you shouldn’t try to attain a certain ‘look.’ I think there is more acceptance in today’s society and hopefully that’s a trend that the industry can keep conveying and leading the charge. I’ve heard things like ‘you look good, you should be an actor’ which kind of makes me cringe because I feel acting should come from your heart and mind, not your looks. If you don’t have that for the character, it does not matter if you are Mr. Olympia…in my opinion, you are in the wrong field. Stories like ‘Perfect Eyebrow’ communicate this idea. You can always work towards a goal of health…and hopefully laugh along the way.”