New Kid On The Block
Indians on a treadmill? You gotta be kidding!
He is very much a chip of the old block. The tall, handsome son of movie legend Dharamendra and youngest brother of acclaimed actor Sunny Deol, Bobby Deol was launched by his father in Barsaat. The film also marked the debut of Rajesh and Dimple Khanna’s daughter Twinkle. While Barsaat failed to make waves, Bobby who set the screen on fire with his histrionics and dancing talent, became the heartthrob of thousands of drooling female fans. While his ascent was marked by a few stumbles along the way, Gupt, Soldier, Ajnabee and recently Humraaz went on to do big business at the box office. 2001 saw him become a father and it is evident that Bobby Deol has also inherited his father’s well known humility and unassuming demeanor, explaning that he is very shy and jittery when it comes to speaking with the media.
In an exclusive interview with Little India, Bobby Deol talks of how being part of tinsel town is not what matters most to him.
Were you able to see a lot of dad as a child?
Fortunately I was. I was the youngest and by the time I was born he was already well established in his career. He really regretted the fact that he had not been able to spend a lot of time with my brother and my sisters, so I used to accompany him pretty much everywhere.
The only thing my parents were very particular about was to keep us away from the filmy lifestyle. They never held parties or entertained people from the film industry at home. There are so many good sound values that were handed down to us from my grandparents and parents. My father has always taught us not to bad mouth anyone, to be a down to earth, good human being and true to yourself.
When you are manipulative and dishonest or unethical it comes back to you, and finally there comes a time when you hate yourself for having done things that were unethical but by then it may be too late.
That is why I wanted to have a child quickly once I got married.
It does not matter which profession you are in, most networking parties are so fake. People are fawning over you because you are their man of the moment. My parents were very over protective and concerned that I may end up with friends who may suck up to me because of who I was. Well I actually hrefused to be presumptuous and I have some great friends who would do any thing for me. The truth about a person usually comes out, and when I do find people who are genuine I love spending time with them.
So do you remember your first shot?
Yes, I played a young Dharmendra in the film Dharamveer. Of course when you are young you have no inhibitions, so I was very confident and charged up, but when the time came to make my debut, I was terribly nervous. I didn’t really take any training or acting classes. I just tried a crash course and gave it up, because it really didn’t teach me much.
I feel acting is instinctive, and like any other profession you get better at what you do with experience and time. As you grow as a person you become more in touch with your emotions and how you channel them on to the screen is the key issue. I am a lot more relaxed now and more comfortable before the camera, but I don’t obsess about camera angles or how good I am looking. Its more important that I am doing a good job of portraying the character I am playing. I don’t rehearse incessantly. It is terribly monotonous after a while. I am very spontaneous. I think spontaneity is hrefreshing as far as I’m concerned. There are other actors who work incessantly on body language, which camera angle suits them best, and maybe it works for them, but I would rather react naturally and not bog myself with too many technicalities.
How was it working under Sunny. He is the big brother and directed you in Dillagi. Did you take advantage of the fact?
Well it was funny because every time he would admonish or correct me I would throw a tantrum, because he used to do that when I was a kid. I would get yelled at for not doing my homework, and stuff, so I would forget he is directing me and instead all I would remember is my brother is scolding me in front of so many people, but in reality I realize now that knowing me so well, he really brought out my best attributes and he was very relaxed and incredibly patient.
You had a pretty challenging role in Humraaz , in more ways than one. Not only were you pitted against an actor of amazing caliber in Akshaye Khanna, he also seemingly had a more powerful role with so many shades and a vast scope to milk that role. Yet surprisingly every one talked about how you complemented him perfectly. People loved your new look as well. Were there ever any qualms about being upstaged? You also did a great job as the confused husband embroiled in a wife swapping murder mystery with Ajnabee. Do you think Indian audiences are more accepting of risqué movies like that and Jism?
The Indian audiences no matter how liberal or open minded you think they have become, are really pretty conservative and traditional in their hearts of hearts and it is hard for them to digest bold subjects. You can see how many films that jumped the bandwagon didn’t do well. Personally I’m pretty conservative and would love to act in films that one can watch with the entire family, but then some times the script or subject is so intriguing that you feel compelled to do it.
You were amazing in Shaheed Bhagat Singh. You even looked like him in the film. How tough was it to do a role like that?
I have grown up listening to stories about our heroes from my grandmother, and specially Bhagat Singh all my life. I loved Manoj Kumar’s Bhagat Singh and watched it many times. Sunny Bhaiya always dreamed of doing this role, but when it finally came to me, I was really excited but also terrified at the same time. How do you play a hero who is so larger than life and do justice to his legacy, bring out all that he stood for and not mess up?
It was very tough. You should have seen me when I started shooting. I was a wreck every single day. It was also sad that so many people jumped into making a film on him simultaneously. As a result not one of those films received the attention from the masses it deserved.
It was also very sad that while the shooting was going on there was so much hoopla in the media, commemorating his life and death. This year no one remembered his birth or death anniversary. That is how shallow people are. Not just him, there are so many unsung heroes that lie lost in the annals of history.
It really bothers me. We have become so self absorbed and selfish. I am a father now and I’m afraid for my son’s future. Today after all that has happened in the past couple of years all I pray for is world peace.
Would you be interested in theatre and cross over cinema? Plays are now getting back into vogue.
I am scared silly even of live stage shows, so I’m not sure about theatre, but cross over cinema maybe. While I enjoyed films like Monsoon Wedding and Bend it Like Beckham, I also felt saddened that it made a mockery of India and its traditions. I am not saying there wasn’t any truth in the films, but I wish someone would make a film depicting what is precious and worth treasuring and following in the Indian tradition. I think Bollywood is going through a lot of changes and upheavals, hopefully once things settle down, we will see some good stuff coming out of there.
What is in the works right now?
I am looking forward to completing my friend the late Bunty Soorma’s film, which is now being directed by Vikram Bhatt after his sudden untimely death. I miss him so much. It’s called Humko Tumse Pyaar Hai, and should be out early next year. I am doing Bardasht, which deals with a relationship between two brothers, there is Anil Sharma’s film with Amitabh Bachchan and Akshay Kumar.
I’m really excited about a film by Mani Shankar called Tango Charlie, which deals with the life of a soldier who rises from the lower ranks and the professional and personal challenges he faces and how he evolves as a result. Then there is an action packed love story with Guddu Dhanoa called Kismat, where there are shades of dad’s film Phool aur Pathar.
It would be Mera Gaon Mera Desh. It had emotions that were so real. Dad was amazing in it. I would love to do his role in a remake if I could! I think dad also has an amazing sense of comedy as you saw in Chupke Chupke, and pathos as you saw in Satya kam. I said earlier he is one actor who could do any kind of roles, and he never got his due.
People couldn’t see beyond his dazzling looks and physique. But he really didn’t care, because that lack of recognition by the film industry was more than compensated by the adoration and love of millions of fans worldwide.
You should have seen the people when he came for the stage shows in Vancouver – people went crazy, removed their turbans and hats to honor him and gave him a standing ovation. I couldn’t care less if I didn’t go down in the annals of film history as the greatest actor alive. If there is anything that I want, its that kind of love from the masses.