Dev.D (2009), Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (ZNMD, 2011) and finally Shanghai. Whether they are cast opposite each other or just acting in the same film, actors Abhay Deol and Kalki Koechlin seem to have become one of those pairs that Bollywood loves to call ‘lucky’. Ask Abhay to comment, and he jokes, “I think Kalki is stalking me! She’s tapping my calls and has bribed my manager. Every time I sign a film, she comes on board as well.”
“Honestly, I don’t believe in luck,” he says, adding, “If a pair clicks with the audience, that’s great.” So do most filmmakers offer them movies together? “I’m offered movies with several heroines. For me, casting is secondary. The story has to be strong. If I like the script, I take up the project. I don’t interfere with the casting, that’s the director’s call,” he says.
Given his filmi track record, does he consider himself a mainstream or art house actor? “I’m open to doing all sorts of cinema. But I’ve been labelled an actor who does only ‘offbeat’ cinema and doesn’t venture much into mainstream.” After the success of ZNMD, the perception may have changed though. “Now, a lot more people are coming up to me and appreciating my work. I’ve had people asking me to do more formula roles. But for me, Dev.D was also a formula film. On many levels, though ZNMD was commercial, I felt it was very poetic and philosophical.”
Abhay believes that things have changed, and he’s at a stage of his career where he’s working on a wider range of films. He says, “I’ve got four back-to-back films lined up. One is Prakash Jha’s Chakravyuha, and the remaining three I can’t discuss right now. But I can assure you that they will all be mainstream films.”