Abhay Deol opens up about his transition from independent to mainstream cinema, mustering up courage to dance, his relationship with Preeti and dealing with link-ups Since embarking upon your journey in Bollywood, you have mainly dabbled in independent cinema. Was this a conscious decision? I wanted to start off with non-formula films. But Socha Na Tha and Ahista Ahista, which were not too far from formula films, just happened. I was a newcomer. Had I said anything, someone would have turned around and said, “Who the hell is he to speak like that?” Those two films didn’t do well. I was really happy that my attempt in Bollywood had failed, so that I could get a chance to experiment (pauses).
Go on… Honestly, it’s very easy to be different. Take the song-n-dance from your film out and you are not like most others. So, I won’t take too much credit for doing whatever I did, after those two films. Let’s just say, things fell into place. According to Dibakar Banerjee, you always work with directors that take on unpredictable scripts.Yeah, I have always wanted to work with filmmakers who are creatively stimulating and original in thought. Like I pushed Anurag Kashyap to do Dev D, which in fact was my idea. Then, Dibakar’s Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! came my way. There is something about Dibakar. He knows what he wants. When people are clear, I am automatically more drawn towards them. It gives you a lot of security.
Did you find it very challenging to resist commercial films?In the beginning, I got many offers. I knew if I did them, I would end up being portrayed as a comic fool. And I didn’t want to get typecast. So, I turned them down very happily. Post Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!, I got a lot of offers which wanted me in the main lead. Those were not easy to turn down. I didn’t want to come across like an arrogant person. But somehow, I still held myself back. So was Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (ZNMD) too difficult to turn down? What made you return to mainstream media?
Nothing like that. ZNMD may look like a commercial film but when you watch it, it might turn out to be an offbeat film. Let’s get this straight. I have done entertainment cinema. I have never said that I’ll do only offbeat cinema. It is just that I feel that I ought to have a choice to jump over. What I also like about ZNMD is that Zoya has achieved the right balance of showing us as heroes but yet we aren’t larger than life. I liked the character so much that I asked Zoya if I needed to pay to work in it (laughs). I wouldn’t do a copy of any film, without the filmmakers owning the rights There has been speculation all over about the film’s resemblance to Hangover. There also seems to be elements of Dil Chahta Hai.
I am glad that people are saying that. But you’ll soon know that these comparisons are far-fetched. To be honest, I didn’t like Hangover Part 1. I thought it had nothing fresh or original about it. I wouldn’t do a copy of any film, without the filmmakers owning the rights. Zoya and Excel Entertainment would certainly not lift anything. You also seemed to have mustered up the courage to dance, which you otherwise said you were too shy to do. What’s bringing about all these changes??
I am still shy to dance (smiles). The dance number in ZNMD is just a fun number. I practiced and gave it my best shot. Well, I have also sung in the film. Don’t expect me to sound like a professional singer, but I liked the idea. I was a bit nervous though, but Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy (music directors of ZNMD) told me that today’s technology can fix up quite a few things. Speaking of being shy, you are certainly difficult to contact – with your phone usually switched off. Is there any connection? All celebrities get lots of calls. Everybody switches his/her phone off. There is a bit of madness that comes with celebrity status. One can’t complain because obviously you’re being appreciated, which is precisely why people are calling you. But at the end of the day, we are humans. Anyway, I have always stayed away from too much publicity. And I don’t plan to change that. It helps me to keep my head on my shoulders. I neither want to be made nor broken by the media. My work should speak.
But within this territory, link-ups too speak. How do you deal with being linked to Minissha Lamba and Soha Ali Khan? I am okay with linkups (smiles). It doesn’t bother me.You are okay with the link-ups, despite being in a relationship (with model-turned-actress Preeti Desai)? I have never hidden the fact that I am seeing someone. In fact, both of us maintain that. If things are to go public, they will but if they don’t have to, they won’t.