He may be better at playing a cheerful hustler than knocking bad guys out cold, but Abhay Deol is tougher than you think. For his upcoming movie, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, the actor learnt deep sea diving in pretty choppy conditions, not the best launch pad for amateurs. “I began learning to dive in Mumbai, and then completed my training in Spain, where the movie is being shot. The trainers didn’t tell us that the conditions weren’t favourable until we had completed the session.”
But Deol insists that there was never any cause to be worried. “I didn’t know any better so I wasn’t scared at all. The boat was rocking because the sea was slightly rough, but I just figured that, that’s the way it was supposed to be,” he grins.
The actor, who is also learning the Israeli martial art form Krav Maga, reveals that his next, helmed by Zoya Akhtar, is a light, slightly comical flick. “My character deals with an issue that almost everyone goes through, so he’s very relatable.” He adds, “It’s not dramatic, neither is it trivial. But Zoya has designed the movie in a way that the drama reveals itself without weighing you down.”The last time Akhtar directed a film, Luck by Chance (2009), it released around the same time as Deol’s neo-cult movie, Dev D. And both received critical acclaim. So was it exciting to now work on the same project? "Zoya and I have always been on the same wavelength. I think she’s very talented, so naturally I was excited when she approached me with a role."
Deol practiced his Spanish during his stay and insists that he can get by. “I can order food and ask for directions in Spanish.” He also recalls one of the highlights of shooting in the football-crazy nation was being part of the FIFA World Cup celebrations. “The entire crew, both Indians and Spaniards, were rooting for the home team. And after Spain won the World Cup, it was like being in India during Diwali. The whole country went crazy; people were driving around the streets, honking loudly. We played volleyball on the beach in the night. The energy levels were so high, it was a
Having recently been signed on as brand ambassador of clothing brand Indian Terrain, Deol admits that it was an artistic match that sealed the deal. “They mentioned to me how people kept asking them to make brighter, more flamboyant clothes. But they stuck to their artistic vision because they believed in their product. It’s the same with films. Producers ask you to add an item song, get another actress. I realised then, that people in different fields face the same setbacks that I do.”