Abhay Deol has wrapped up his first Hollywood film, Singularity. But he has no idea when the epic love story will release. “I believe they still have a schedule left in England,” he says. “For me, it was an experience to be part of a film made on such a grand scale. I made friends from all over the world and realised that the film fraternity everywhere, be it Hollywood, Bollywood, UK or France, is the same.”
Rolland Joffe’s The Mission (1986) is a film he recalls watching as a child. It shaped his desire to become an actor: “So when I got the opportunity to work with a man who’d inspired me, I grabbed it. I was visiting a place in my past and there was no thought for the story or even my part.” Rolland, Abhay admits, lived up to his image: “He’s a lovely man; soft-spoken, protective and father-like.” Singularity is a story of impossible love set against the backdrop of the first Anglo-Maratha war across two time periods and continents. Abhay plays the role of Udaiji, a part he calls the “most physically challenging one he has ever played”.
He admits it was tough to do a film where everyone, including the Maratha warriors, spoke in English. To add to his troubles, his action-packed role required intensive training in Israeli martial arts and horse riding. “I had ridden before, but by the end of the three-week training, I was galloping through my Hollywood debut. Rolland was a happy man because I didn’t need body doubles for my stunts,” he says. The film also stars Bipasha Basu as Tulaja Naik, a Maratha warrior, James Stewart (Josh Hartnett), a British officer posted in India in the 1780s to spearhead a war against the Marathas, falls desperately in love with her. “I’ve known Bipsaha for a while. It was nice to be on the sets with her,” says Abhay.
He describes Hartnett, who plays dual roles of Stewart and Jay Fennel, a marine archeologist, as a hardworking, well-read and intelligent actor. “It was Josh’s first trip to India and after we had finished the shoot in Rajasthan, a group of us, including Rolland and him, went to Varanasi to chill out,” he says. “I picked the place and we did the usual tourist things like river rafting, trekking and visiting temples.”