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A Conversation About Abhay Deol's Zindagi

By BFFC Network Sunday, Dec 08, 2013 04:11: PM

A Conversation About Abhay Deol’s Zindagi

Talking to Abhay Deol is like talking to a modern day South Asian viewer, a critic, so to speak, of film-making and story-telling. Witty, charming, and intriguing, Abhay Deol is one of the hidden (arguably today, not so hidden) gems of the Indian film industry, who has woven his own path, erected his own walls, and been satisfied with risky decisions which have paid off. Here’s your chance to see what he’s all about!

Of course everyone has been telling you about this already, been Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara…such a huge film, huge success. Congratulations on that. But you know, when I initially heard of the film, I had my reservations seeing that it was about three guys, on a road trip. I was reminded of Dil Chahta Hai. How did you choose the film? Did you feel like those comparisons hampered your initial decision at all?

We all thought that definitely. It is true that it was of three boys and with Farhan, so the same setting so to speak as Dil Chahta Hai and then with the roadtrip, it was evident that people would draw those comparisons and conclusions straight away. But that wasn’t any reason for me not to be a part of the film. Besides, when I read the script I realized that it had nothing…absolutely nothing…to do with Dil Chahta Hai, so it was totally cool.


I went in with the same perceptions as well!
(Laughs) Totally justified!


But in terms of the film, one thing that I found hilarious in the film was the trick you do in the film, the “maine tere baare mein kuch suna hai.” How many times have you used that trick in real life? Do you use it in real life at all?
I actually have done it!


And is it really as successful as it is shown in the film?
Yes it is!


I’ve never tried it.
You need to try it. It isn’t necessarily exactly like that. So, it’s like this. You do need to know a little something and then the friend needs to be in the position that he can’t tell you or doesn’t want to tell you. So you have to start off with that phrase and add in the little something that you do know. That’s how it clicks right away!


So you throw in a couple of key words?
Yeah – exactly. All you need to remember is to start off with the key idea that you know. The main thing – and that sets the stage up for the poor victim! (Laughs)


Now, more of a general comment and question, a lot of people associate you with non-mainstream films but for me, I’ve felt that you started off very much in mainstream with Socha Na Tha, which is, of course, a very masala-oriented, romantic film. Why do you think that perception exists? Do you think it is because the projects you choose are so different from the macho image associated with the Deols generally?
I think, initially, it was that I wasn’t so much like the same way my brothers (Sunny Deol and Bobby Deol) and my “thaiyya-ji” (Dharmendra Uncle) were. Because you know what, they were so action-driven and they did have a macho image. And then, I started with a romantic comedy and the way I carried myself – there was absolutely nothing macho about me so, I was non-conventional because I was different from my family but not different from the industry.

For me, I did have to establish myself as me and put my individuality out there. I knew that it would be a journey because even within the industry, they would want you to conform to the formula.


And you did?
Well, I said okay. There will be the family comparisons but not just the family comparisons but in general, I’d like to be a part of the generation that is individualistic and that does not conform to the formula. It is bound to change because the mould is becoming different. It took a while but it was about time to have things change around here.

Having done Manorama and Ek Chalis, and because I knew that my first few films did not do well, the next few films, having been off the mainstream, would not get the kind of films that would get the market or the release campaign that comes with conventional films and that most likely they won’t break any big records or be big hits. But I hoped that, by the end of it, I would have a collection of films that would showcase my collection of unique work and bring me more work.

I think that once I had five or six under my belt, from which at least four were non-conventional, that then started to become the way to describe me, to describe me as “unconventional”. So, it went from being different from my family, then being different from mainstream…

I would say it is easier to be unconventional and set yourself apart though.


I agree. I think you would shine through more because of how you’ve built sort of your own “niche”, if you will, of what a career graph could look like.
Yeah…It’s true. Bollywood – the films are like a craft. It is not art. You know, you have the song, and the music, and the action, and the looks. And so, a lot of people are just perfecting that concept. They just try to out-do the last thing that someone else did. They want to make the six-pack into an eight-pack. It is so superficial on that level.

So, if you steer clear of that, you are termed “off-beat” and that was my issue in the beginning, that an Oye Lucky Lucky Oye is not necessarily off-beat but because I am not suddenly breaking into a song and dance, it becomes defined as an off-beat film.


But speaking of song and dance, you have quite the good moves, with the salsa we saw in Honeymoon Travels alongside Minnisha Lamba.
Haha! It was me – it wasn’t a double!


Was there a lot of training involved?
Well, I had two weeks’ worth of training for that particular song, which I didn’t feel were enough but I did try. It was fun. But Ayesha, I did also do my salsa. So, I’ve done my bit of song and dance to sometimes. But as you said as well, I did do some roles that required song and dance. I wasn’t going to go into every film and say, listen, you need to change, and we cannot do this because I am an individual so get rid of all of the formulas in your film. I knew I had to go and do what they want you to do especially to prove your worth.

But today, it is at a whole new level. In the past couple of years, since 2008 and 2009, people are starting to take more chances and take in new talent and taking risks. Right now, the easiest way of being provocative to the audiences, it seems to be the trend, is sex. Tomorrow, I think it should be about something else. We still are wrapped up with the notion that conflict is only on the outside. Soon, we need to break out of that and Bollywood must realize that there is also conflict on the inside. There are always demons within individuals.


But do you think people would respond to that kind of cinema?
Well, it’s work in progress. A few films that are made like that…people watch it and think, well, where is the conflict in this film? There is no conflict. They don’t get it. They are so used to having films where there is good and evil, black and white. It isn’t so simply in life. We all have grey shades. It is very simplified in Bollywood. No inner conflicts are shown. We have yet to explore such avenues.


On that note, we hope you continue to have a hand in Bollywood exploring such avenues! It was an immense pleasure conversing with you.
Thank you so much. So much love for you !


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Comments (1)
Lisandra 25 May 2015, 10:32 AM
Something Spanish again?Anyways, ever since I saw that picture of the movie, I have dotbus whether this movie will be liked by people or not.. I remember Farhan saying that if you had DCH as favorite, then u will love this movie.. For that , this movie needs to have the characters looking completely natural and slightly realistic also..
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