MUMBAI—He’s been away from the marquee for four years – that’s a long time indeed for Bobby Deol, who is now in the 22nd year of his career. His track-record of eminence, after his debut in his 1995 family production “Barsaat,” includes “Gupt,” “Soldier,” “Ajnabee,” “Humraaz” and of course “Apne” and “Yamla Pagla Deewana.”
Different versions of why he was away were circulating, with Deol himself admitting to depression, a defeated feeling and more. But the actor India-West met at the J.W. Marriott Hotel is chilled-out, slim and fit, and looking the best across all the meetings we have had, beginning with 1999 at the time of “Dillagi.”
Deol confesses that he has decided to be completely positive, has done what he never did before (become fitness conscious like his brother Sunny Deol and Dad Dharmendra) and is now hoping that he will attract more and more producers!
Excerpts from an interview:
Q: What exactly is the meaning of the term “Poster Boys,” which was also the original Marathi film’s name with a small spelling change in English?
A: We three – Sunny bhaiyya (Sunny Deol), Shreyas (Talpade, co-star, co-producer, and director, and also the producer of the Marathi original film) and I are on the posters for a vasectomy promotion, and our pictures have been used without our permissions! The topic thus has an inbuilt potential for comedy. I am very excited about this film.
Q: Sunny never watched the original. Did you watch it?
A (Shakes his head) No, there was no need after the way Shreyas narrated it. I would not have liked to be conscious about the original each time.
Q: What, for you, was the best thing about it?
A: That I was playing this comic, small-town guy who spoke chaste Hindi and was a henpecked husband, naïve, sincere and honest! I have always played a rich man’s roles, except in “Kareeb,” wherein I was a different small-town and middle-class guy, and I was always told by my producers, “Tu gareeb nahin dikhta (You do not look like a poor guy)!”
Another good thing was the way my brother was challenged into doing something that was completely new for him. When you look at Sunny bhaiyya’s appearance on the poster or in the trailer, it creates a curiosity factor that is good for our film.
Q: How comfortable were you with the chaste Hindi part?
A: The moment I came to know about this, I told Shreyas we should do workshops, and he was instantly willing. It was exciting and challenging doing them, and on sets later, there was no problem at all, because we had worked on this for at least a week. Shreyas, who, let me tell you, is a sadist as a taskmaster, made me do very tough things as practice, and there was even a Marathi tongue-twister that I just could not manage! But it all helped. I think workshops are very important in such cases.
Q: Do you think it is lucky that your film is releasing at a time when such sensitive issue-based films like “Toilet: Ek Prem Katha” and “Shubh Mangal Saavdhan” are being liked?
A: I would prefer not to rely on luck, but hard work. Such factors can even go against our film for whatever reason.
Q: The four-year lull was something unprecedented. When you had grown a beard sometime back, we thought you were doing a film.
A: I was going to do a dark film with a new director, who told me just to grow a beard and play around with it, checking how it made me feel. I love the dark kind of cinema, but that script never worked out.
At the end of it all, the four years have made me a better, stronger person. I am much refreshed now and very positive. For the first time in my life, I started looking at my body as something to be lovingly cared for and maintained. During the shoot of this film, I would be in bed by 8.30 or 9 and up by 3.30 or 4 for workouts. Also, as I think I am looking better, I may attract the attention of producers who were staying away from me! (Grins)
Q: Your interview online some time ago was a rage.
A (Smiles): Yes, it helped me realize that I was still loved, like my family for so many decades. I just spoke my heart on it, and it went viral even when I had done no film in over three years. I do not like to pity myself, and I did not, but beyond that, I could not convince anyone that I was not being extra-choosy and avoiding films, but it was the filmmakers who were getting too choosy about signing me (Laughs).
That interview again showed me that we Deols are lucky. People always love us. Releases, hits or flops have nothing to do with that love.
Yesterday was my mom’s birthday and Karan, a fan from Punjab, whom I had met during the shoot of “Poster Boys,” sent her a cake through his friend Ritesh, a fan in Mumbai, and Ritesh came to meet me dressed exactly the way I am in the film! That was so touching.
Q: You have not done any film for a long while with Abbas-Mustan after doing five films in 12 years, of which the first three, “Soldier,” “Ajnabee” and “Humraaz” were hit.
A: Yes, they are like family for me. If they have something for me, they will call me. I have worked the maximum with them.
Q: The Deols have only just come on Twitter.
A: Yes, my father came only last week. I was also away, but there were so many fake Bobby Deol handles! The handles would be used to troll others because these people did not have the guts to say something under their names. ‘Bobby’ was used by all of them, so I have settled for ‘@thedeol’ as my handle.
I do not put opinions. I only put photographs. I love Instagram and taking pictures, especially candid ones. Photographs are memories you can cherish forever. I am, in fact, the official photographer among my friends. Having said, I hate selfies, as they distort the face completely! (Grins)
Q: The same question that we have asked your brother: why have you not worked with a top heroine in years?
A: I think that they should be ready to do our film, in a subject dominated by us. They should want to do a character from the heart, then whoever does the role, top heroine or not, works for a film. Also, nowadays it is not needed to look a part but to perform the part. Today’s audiences are more open. Time was when my father was rejected as an ugly character in a lovely film called “Ghazab” (1982) that was a remake of a South film. Images were so strong then.
Q: True. Your father was never accepted as someone weak either. So how is your frame of mind now, when the film is set to release?
A: I never stay in Mumbai when my films release. It’s too stressful! This time I will be in Manali!