Abhay Deol is known for his
(different) choice of movies. Now the actor is hoping to create sufficient buzz through different means for the two Non Government Oragnisations — Video Volunteers (VV) and Wildlife SOS (WSOS) — that he has been appointed as the brand ambassador of.
It’s not like he set out with an agenda to become the brand ambassadors of these organisations, says the Deol dude. Things just happened. “I met Jessica (of Video Volunteers) at a conference in Mysore. Both of us were speakers there; I was to talk on the power of stories. Jessica explained the concept of Video Volunteers, post the conference and I found that to be a very challenging task,” says Abhay. Not many know this, but what attracted the rising star to VV was the fact that he had once visualised a similar concept.
“It was something I had thought of a couple of years ago; and Jessica was doing the same with good results,” Abhay reiterates. What impressed him was that, both the NGOs have larger plans that were effective. “Wildlife SOS has succeeded in taking so many dancing bears off the streets. A chat with Kartick (of WSOS) and I realised that these guys don’t have it easy. It involves getting to the grass root level to find these traders and rescue these bears,” says an emphatic Deol.
VV, explains Abhay, plans to give its volunteers employment and hopefully, some of them will become journalists too. “And no, they will not be interviewing me,” he laughs. “Entertainment journalism is not their area. The volunteers are into community service. Maybe they’ll make documentaries. The possibilities are endless and the idea is to provide them with a means of livelihood,” he says.
‘I’m still learning’
Ask Abhay how he plans to help these two NGOs rise to the next level and he seems to have no clue. “Honestly, I don’t know. I am going to find out myself. I have just come on board and I’m still learning. But I plan to do a little something for these guys every month. For now, I attend the screenings by VV. I’m speaking to the media. I have a few plans up my sleeve, but I’d rather implement them first and then talk about them,” he adds. “We have to bring about a change collectively,” he emphasises.
Quiz him on why he thinks mainstream news channels don’t show interest in the problems that the VV wants to address and Abhay diplomatically states: “I don’t know what their (news channels) priorities are. As a layman, I’d assume that there is so much competition for viewership that channels tend to opt for sensational news bits. But I don’t want to judge.”
Coming back to Wildlife SOS, Abhay says, he is an animal lover and more so besotted by dogs. “At my parents house, there are three dogs. I’ve grown up with these four-legged creatures all my life,” he says with an evident glint in his eye.
With recent reports of tiger killings in India, Abhay believes it’s not impossible to put a stop to such illegal activities once and for all.
“Nothing is impossible. All of us have to make an individual effort. First visualise and then act towards it. If something is impossible, then why bother trying? A decade down the line, I don’t want to sit back and think that I didn’t do anything to stop disasters like the extinction of certain species. I’d rather point a finger at myself than others.”
The blame game
Everyone wants to know how he plans to juggle film assignments and promote two causes at the same time. But Abhay has managed to deconstruct this supposedly complex schedule into a simple one. “We all have to find a cause we believe in and pursue it. Sometimes it may cost you your job, your personal life, your love life, etc. Maybe I won’t be able to give it as much time as I would like to, to promote VV and Wildlife SOS but if you are passionate about something, you just have to make time, na?” he shoots back.
As for sections of people accusing actors of associating themselves with various NGOs just to build an image in the minds of their audience, Abhay says such blame games are part and parcel of the profession.
“Anyone with half a brain will understand that an actor has to use his popularity to urge people to make donations. So, as long as the donations come in, I don’t mind what these analysts say,” he chuckles. On a more serious note, he adds that though he has nothing to prove to anybody he believes that the masses can tell a fake personality from a genuine one. Touché.