PEOPLE HAD FORGOTTEN BOBBY DEOL
‘My main ambition is to be on the sets everyday for the rest of my life.’
After Aashram, Bobby Deol gets even more menacing in his new Web series Love Hostel.
It’s a new phase in his acting career, and he’s enjoying every bit of it.
“My whole process and mindset is to just entertain people. If you get acknowledged as an actor, your inning is always going to be longer than just being a star,”
For so many, you are the eternal lover boy of Barsaat. Now suddenly, we see you hunting a couple as a ruthless mercenary. Was it an uneasy transition for you to accept yourself as an anti-hero?
No, it wasn’t. It has been a deliberate effort on my part to do different stuff. I am looking for roles which will intrigue and excite me.
I was very happy when Gaurav (Verma) from Red Chillies came to me with Love Hostel. I was like wow, thank you so much it’s a very interesting character.
I was taken aback by the story.
Drishyam Films, who are partners with Red Chillies, are passionate filmmakers, so working with the cast Sanya (Malhotra) and Vikrant (Massey) and my director Shanker Raman was one of the best experiences.
He is an awesomely talented director and I am lucky to have got a chance to work with him.
Your co-star Sanya Malhotra calls you a sheer joy to work with. What do you think of her and Vikrant Massey?
They are sweethearts.
I remember the first day when I woke up in my hotel, there was a knock on my door and Sanya and Vikrant walk in.
They walked in to pay their respects and to tell me how they have been fans of mine over the years.
That was such a sweet gesture.
I was overwhelmed.
Both are natural performers.
These new generation actors are so well prepared and dedicated to the art that it’s really nice to work with them.
The film made me realise that in cities, couples can have their fairytale ‘happy ever after’ but in smaller towns, with class and caste divides, love can be a nightmare. Do you agree ?
I agree with a lot of things which are not right in our society. They have been happening for generations.
I am not here to preach about it.
I am just an actor who is working with responsible people and trying to make a movie which wants to bring these issues into the light.
It is a fictionalised version of what happens in our society, so that people become more aware about it.
If you see any love story, it is always that the lovers have to fight against all odds to be together. So this is based in a rustic and realistic environment with issues which are around us.
I have read about these things in the newspaper and it’s sad that these things happen.
You were initially not sure if you wanted to play this character. Director Shanker Raman had to come up with another draft to convince you to say yes. Is that true?
There were no apprehensions.
I was more bothered about how they would develop my character.
That was more important because at the end of the day, my character is the driving force behind the narrative, so I wanted to bring more definition into the characterisation.
That’s what we worked on.
We had some nice sessions and discussions and we were on the same page.
Finally, I was really happy with how they had worked on the character.
You know, every actor’s insecurity is that the character needs to be developed more.
It’s not about the length of the character, it’s about how well it is written.
So what caught your attention when this script came to you?
I am trying to do different and realistic cinema.
I did Class of ‘83. which was very realistic in its approach. So was Aashram.
It gives me pleasure to be part of such projects because I can identify with its content.
As a normal Indian, you are also intrigued by what is happening.
Love Hostel depicts what happens in the safe houses and things like that.
You look quite threatening in Love Hostel.
Shanker, as I said, is an awesomely talented man.
He had already worked on my look and then we sat together and I said, okay, let me grow my beard and keep it unkempt. Let me not colour my beard, let it have the natural greys.
I said I would color my hair white, so that the age shows, as well as a man, who is totally destroyed f rom inside.
He has been through something that has destroyed his love for things.
To create that whole effect was really important, so that’s why I had to do prosthetics.
I had to have this burnt thing on my face and a bent nose.
Initially, it used to take three hours and then eventually, we started doing it in two hours.
Do you discuss your projects with your wife Tanya? What was her first reaction when she saw your look in the film?
I discuss everything with my wife.
She is very excited about Love Hostel.
I was showing her pictures from the time we would spend like three, four hours working on the look. We did two-three looks and finally got the right prosthetics.
So I used to come home and show my kids the pictures and tell them, see papa is doing this look and they were all very intrigued.
I like to share things with my family, especially my wife because she is my everything.
She is the reason why I have the strength to work hard.
We mostly see you in multi-starrers. Why don’t we see you in a solo hero project?
I feel if you get a good character to play, it will stand out even if it’s a multistarrer.
I was trying to restart my career and Salman (Khan) gave me the opportunity to be a part of his film (Race 3).
He portrayed me in a very nice, glamourised way.
Those two-three years when I wasn’t working, people had forgotten who
Bobby Deol was. Race 3 made them realise, okay, there is an actor called Bobby Deol.
It really helped me because immediately after that I got Housefull 4, again a multi-starrer with Akshay Kumar.
I knew people would see me, and this is how I would move forward.
Eventually, I got Class of ‘83 and things started changing.
One week later, I had Aashram and then people just went crazy.
Aashram is one of the most watched Web series ever, so I can never ask for more than what I got from God because I never imagined things would be like this.
To get nominated for both my projects was also something I never expected.
My whole process and mindset is to just entertain people.
If you get acknowledged as an actor, your inning is always going to be longer than just being a star.
You have seen stardom and then came a time when you disappeared completely. How did you survive through that difficult time?
I fought my demons and came out of it.
My family is the best thing that happened to me.
They were always supportive.
One day, the switch just turned on and I was completely focused.
I tried to do something different because I was sick and tired of doing commercial work. So I did Poster Boys and people appreciated me.
I got so many phone calls after doing that film because I was trying to break away from my image.
But the film did not work at the box office so I did not get more opportunities.
Does that time ever come in an actor’s life where box office success doesn’t affect him any more?
See, things have changed now.
It’s all about being able to get to do good work.
My main ambition in life is to be on the sets everyday for the rest of my life.
But I don’t want to play just about any character that comes my way. That’s why I don’t go crazy signing projects.
Why push myself backwards when I need to move forward in my career?
You have done two seasons of Aashram and finished shooting for the third. Does it take a toll on an actor to keep the same character relevant season after season and bring something new to it each time?
In a Web series, the characters move along with the story. If you see these big shows like Game of Thrones, you will realize that the characters look similar but is so interesting. You will enjoy their performances because that’s the way the story is moving.
Definitely, after a point it does get tiresome for the writers to figure how they will create more dimensions to the character.
Actors also keep wondering how will they keep performing.
We have actually done two seasons in Aashram. The first season was broken into two parts and released as Chapter 1 and Chapter 2. So now, the Season 2 will come out.
We will see three generations of the Deols in Apne 2, which is set to roll this year. How special is this film for you?
It got delayed because the scripting has taken time.
My brother has also got busy, as did I.
It is definitely a very special film because Apne brought out family values, father-son relationships... and people got really emotional when they saw that.
We are trying to make a second part to it with a great story so people will enjoy it and that’s taken time.
I am very excited to work with my nephew Karan and, of course, my father and brother again.
You have Animal coming up, with Ranbir Kapoor, Anil Kapoor and Parineeti Chopra. How is your experience of working on this film?
I haven’t worked on it yet, thanks to COVID.
I am really excited about working with Ranbir and Parineeti for the first time. I have worked with Anil earlier.
Anil is full of energy.
I just spoke to him on his birthday and he told me he is looking forward to working with me again.
Working with Sandeep Reddy Vanga is also very exciting because he is an awesome director. I love his films because he thinks out of the box.
He brings out a different dimension to every character.
Considering you have a strong bond with Shabbir Boxwala f rom your Gupt days, how excited are you to collaborate with him again for Notary?
Things are still on discussion, nothing has been finalised yet.
But Shabbir is a really old friend of mine. He is a sweetheart.
I have known him since Gupt and he is a gem of a guy.
Dharmendra and brother Sunny Deol. Dharamji says you don’t take good care of yourself. Is that true?
A father always thinks his son never takes care of himself.
I asked him why did you put it on your Instagram, where the whole world is following you? so he said, nahi woh aise hi zara emotional tha toh maine daal diya.
Maine bola, mujhe hi message kar dete directly.