Bobby Deol on ek, do, teen and everything in between.. in conversation with Roshmila Bhattacharya.
Is one your lucky number?
(Looking surprised) Why do you ask? Ah, you’re probably referring to Ek—The Power of One, my next release. I don’t have a lucky number. If I had to pick a number between one and 100, it would probably be nine. I was born on January 27 and two plus seven makes nine.
Ek is a remake of the Telugu hit, Athadu. How close is it to the original?
Well, since the producer bought the rights of the Telugu film, he obviously wanted to remake the same story, right? But the setting has changed.. from down south to up north. And that means the look is different. I saw Athadu.. the action was stupendous! That’s what attracted me.<b1>
I’m told you shot in the middle of a blizzard, in near-freezing conditions?
We were shooting at the Rohtang Pass and yes, it was freezing. But it’s easy for me to acclimatise myself to
I’ve been up there before, during my first film, Barsaat. (Smiles) The best thing about being an actor is that your job takes you places you would otherwise never visit.
Have you always aspired to be an actor?
Always, except for the time when I wanted to fly a real plane and toyed briefly with the idea of becoming a pilot. (Grins) But then I learnt that a career in flying meant hours of study. Being a star is better. You can reach for the stars without burning the midnight oil.
While I was growing up, everyone around would tell me, “Tu to actor banega.” It was okay because that was what I wanted too. (Smiles) Doesn’t everyone dream of becoming a hero?
That’s why reality TV is so big today. But I don’t want my sons to be similarly influenced. That’s why I never take them on the sets. I want them to study and decide for themselves what they want to do.
You’ve played a professional assassin before.. in Bichoo and more recently Chamku.
Chamku was more realistic.. about a boy who’s taken from his home and moulded into someone else. Ek is more commercial. And Nandu undergoes a metamorphosis when he is mistaken for a man who’s dead and welcomed into an extended Punjabi family ruled by a benevolent grandfather.
Did he remind you of your own dadaji?
My dadaji was a principled teacher who gave us a lot of flak over studies. But I knew how to get him to buy me the toy I wanted. I’d sit next to him all day, till he gave in. (Smiles) Grandparents are soft on their grandchildren. I see that happening with my sons and dad too.
Your cousin Abhay Deol admitted in a recent interview that he finds it difficult to scream at Sunny, you and his revered tayaji, even on camera.
I’m surprised he said that. Isn’t acting all about becoming a character? I was nervous the first day we shot for Apne. Then I stopped thinking of him as my dad, he was Karan’s dad. And it was easy!
It took Anil Sharma 10 years to bring the three Deols together in Apne. Will it be another decade before we see you on screen again?
(Smiles) It took him 10 years to approach us. He came to us three years ago, and the film was wrapped up in a year. We’re keen to work together but we need a script first.
Nana Patekar, you co-star in Ek, is really fond of your dad?
(Smiles) Yeah, he spoke very warmly of dad on the first day of the shoot and that broke the ice. Nana’s incredibly fit for his age and easy to work with.
You mean he didn’t interfere?
I’ve heard those stories too but till I actually see it happen with my own eyes, I won’t believe them.
Your producer has been receiving threatening calls for a line in the promo of Ek that goes: Aam aadmi ko marna hai? Dus hazaar ka desi katta aur ek Bihari. Kaam khatam. The Censor Board has asked for the word ‘Bihari’ to be beeped out or deleted.
You’ll have to speak to the producer about this. I wasn’t aware of such a line.. it wasn’t a part of my scenes.
Did you like Dev D?
Abhay says that his aunt was scandalised and prayed the film wouldn’t be passed?
Four people in a room watching the same film will have four different points of view.
Would you like to play Devdas some day?
Hasn’t he been done to death already? There have been so many Devdas movies. I’m told Dilipsaab’s (Dilip Kumar) was the best. I have seen only Dev D and it was awesome.
Abhay has launched his own banner, Forbidden Films, because he wants to do a different kind of cinema. Will you start your own production house too to make the films you want?
Anything that works for you is exciting. I think that’s what Abhay meant. You don’t have to make your own films to be different.
Does Formula No. 44 work for you?
That must be the heist film I’ve been approached for. But I don’t know if that’s the title.
Will your brother, Sunny Deol, be directing you in the near future?
May be, he’s an awesome director who brought out the best in me in Dillagi. But right now he’s busy with The Man. And dad and I are doing Cheers, a comedy, with Sangeeth Sivan.
What’s happening to your restaurant?
I don’t have one anymore. I love food but running a restaurant means you’re thinking about it 24x 7. That’s difficult. (Smiles) We Deols are all heart.
Is that why you’re not getting into IPL.. buying a team or being a brand ambassador for one?
I love cricket but I’m not a businessman. Besides, I support Team India. It’s difficult enough wondering which team to support when some of my favourites are playing against each other.
I prefer it when they play as one for the country. The present Indian XI is a superb unit that plays as a team. If one fails, the other compensates with a good effort.
Of course, they can’t win every time. (Smiles) Every day is a new Friday.
Abhay’s taken a sabbatical.. he’s in New York, taking a course in metallurgy, shopping at supermarkets, dating a Miss U K. Ever thought of taking a break too?
(Chuckles) My brother doesn’t have responsibilities, so he can grab such opportunities. But once you are married you can’t take sabbaticals.
What did you get your wife, Tanya, on Valentine’s Day?
I’m too old for all that. Sometimes I don’t even get her a gift on her birthday. And sometimes, if I feel like it, I give her one even if it’s not a special day. The important thing is to be there for each other, always.
How’s her furniture business going?
Great! I’m really proud of Tanya. It’s not easy running a business when you have kids. But I wouldn’t want her to give it up. She’s designed most of the furniture in our home. Simple stuff.. nothing over the top.
Is little Dharam like his grandfather?
He looks a lot like me actually. So does the older one. (Smiles) But my mother tells me that I’m a lot like dad so may be they are too.
I wanted to name Aryaman, Dharam. I love the name.. it sounds so powerful. But everyone said I couldn’t name my son after my dad. I pointed out that no one ever calls dad by his name. So finally, I got my way.