The low-key Deol

The low-key Deol

While the senior Deols have enthralled the audiences with their dynamic personas, Bobby, the suave young Deol, has been the more sophisticated of the lot. The actor talks to Rajiv Vijayakar about his love for films and family.

He’s always been the different, low-key Deol. When he appeared on the scene 18 years ago in Rajkumar Santoshi’s Barsaat, Bobby Deol was the urban (and urbane) dude among the earthy Deols, someone not just good at action, but also at romance. He could actually dance well too — a trait not common to his father Dharmendra and elder brother Sunny.

As Barsaat (an average success) was followed by hits like Gupt and Soldier, Bobby picked up steam. Humraaz, Ajnabee and the first Deol extravaganza Apne followed. Bobby never got the spectacular solo super-hit, something that probably cramped his success quotient despite being a consistent performer and a professional, popular and fairly prolific star.

Among his more evolved performances, we saw him shine in movies as varied as Dillagi, 23 March 1931: Shaheed, Naqaab, Nanhe Jaisalmer, Chamku and Vaada Raha, but the all-important success eluded these films.

Bobby, however, gave a skilled account of himself again in Yamla Pagla Deewana and is all set to reprise his act in Yamla Pagla Deewana 2 where, as he explains, the same characters are placed in another setting. “We are again going to entertain everyone,” he smiles.

Getting the right pick

Why has he been hardly seen in films of late? The actor shrugs and states, “Well, I did not get anything worthwhile in-between.” With Thank You and Players as his last outside releases, we agree, and do not blame him. But does he feel that he suffered because he was a little different from the classic Deol mould? “I really do not know the answer to that,” he smiles, his exhaustion after the excessive promotions clearly blended with the classic Deol brand of courtesy.

And what happened to all the projects that were being planned at the time of the first Yamla Pagla Deewana? “That film was not produced by us, and we were planning them with outside producers. But now, we are making more films for our company,” he replies. “We are working on several stories. Some scripts planned then seem to be working out finally. A good script is the most important aspect of a movie. Unless that is interesting, we cannot make films for the sake of making them.”

Among the films that will soon be launched is an emotional subject starring Dharmendra and Bobby. Another movie, helmed by the Deol favourite, Anil Gadar Sharma, will see him co-star with Sunny.

The Deols are back on track, especially after the recent changes in trends that show a return to what Bobby calls “earthiness, rawness and heroism.” He is happy that all that has come back, including the hardcore action (as different from violent) films that Dharmendra did in the ‘70s.

How does he perceive changes in Hindi cinema? “Audiences evolve and yet relish the same flavours in a modern way, like these action films my dad did four decades ago,” says Bobby candidly. “They always want to be entertained. If the same thing is liked three or four evolved generations down, maybe it is explained by the fact that all of us are Indians!”

He does admit, though, that comedies have become big now. “In the olden days, comedies had a tougher time and even a great comedy would usually be an average success at best. Today, a Golmaal 3 touches Rs 100 crore and Yamla Pagla Deewana is a blockbuster. Maybe life is so stressful today and the world is no more innocent that a lightening of mood is needed.”

Bobby shrugs and delivers a quotable quote: “Whenever I enjoy a film, it is a hit for me. The actual box-office is immaterial then.” Did he always want to become an actor? “Yes, I always loved everything about acting and cinema. I loved what dad did. I would often go on the sets, even acted as a kid in a scene in Manmohan Desai’s Dharam Veer because dad told me to — I played his childhood — and still it was a new experience when I began to shoot for Barsaat. But I loved everything, including staying in hotel rooms that were sometimes like bare essentials — a room with a bathroom and only basic comforts.”

The failures

What does he have to say about his good films that went unsung? “That is something that one has to accept,” states the actor, who had also turned co-producer with the almost experimental film Nanhe Jaisalmer. “I had a great role in my brother’s directorial film Dillagi and worked so hard on 23 March 1931: Shaheed. Vaada Raha was a nice little film that was not even marketed, and was released with several other small films in that week. It taught me that a film must have an effective backing and that the producer must be strong too.”

That film had one of his best performances, since Bobby had to act with his face, eyes and voice as he was shown to be paralysed on a hospital bed for most of the movie. Why did he not make efforts to let the film get a fair deal? “I don’t push myself,” he shrugs, with a disarming smile. “The film had too many practical aspects going against it.”

Claiming to be buddies with all his co-stars, he does not wish to single out anyone as special. “Among those who are not from the industry, Preity Zinta is someone I had known even before I became an actor,” he says. “I was to make my debut in a Shekhar Kapur film and she was auditioning for another when we met again. Neither movie took off, and finally we both started out with other directors.”

Will we see him directing films in the future? “No way! I cannot control people or crowds. Direction is not easy at all. After Yamla Pagla Deewana 2 though, I want to understand production even more and take some load off my brother Sunny’s back. So far, dad and he have indulged me as a child, but I must understand movie economics and other things. I have seen our films do well and we still never knew where all the money we were supposed to have made went when we sat down to account for it.”

Bobby is proud of his joint family even in the ‘nuclear’ era of 2013. “I will never change that. Yes, we have had a traditional upbringing in a joint family, and we live together. Dad is like a friend too — but I still get nervous when he walks into the room. We lead simple lives that are not at all filmi or ostentatious. My family is my religion. My mother, a small-town woman who got married too early by today’s standards, is my emotional anchor. And Sunny is very protective, almost like a second father. Right now, we are all planning the acting debut of his son Karan.”

Bobby also lets out almost a battle-cry that means, “Watch out for more Deols!” and declares, “I think that a father always wants his son to do what he does. There is Sunny’s second son Rajvir and my own children Aryaman and Dharam. After Karan, I am sure that there will be three more Deols coming in.”

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