Taking risks is my formula: Abhay Deol

Abhay Deol insists that taking a risk is his formula, and playing safe is not part of who he is

Someone who has navigated seamlessly between parallel and mainstream cinema, choosing scripts that had scandalised his colleagues in Industry, actor Abhay Deol insists that taking a risk is his formula, and playing safe is not part of who he is. The actor talked about films like ‘Dev D’ and ‘Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!’ that made him a darling of independent film followers.

“These were directed by those boasting of a different cinematic language and story treatment. I have always believed in good work and the fact that people are ready to embrace the new. I am glad I was part of that movement where I worked with several debut directors or those who had just started their careers,” says the actor who debuted with ‘Socha Na Tha’ (2005).

Surprisingly, he came in very late for the publicity of the above mentioned films. “Believe it or not, I was afraid of fame. Of course, now when I look back, I feel I missed out on a lot of hype. Frankly, I found self-publicity very cheap. Though looking back, I feel I could have handled it better and embraced what was coming my way.”

Someone who started watching World Cinema at an early age with filmmaker Stanley Kubrick being his favourite director (“his disgust for war” and making tragic -comedies fascinated me”), Deol, who was recently seen in the web-series ‘Trial by Fire’ admits that the Hindi films being made during his growing-up years were all about escaping reality. “And I did not want to escape reality but embrace it,” he smiles.

Now that he has spent nearly two decades in the industry, the actor said, “It feels the time has gone by really fast – I look back with curiosity; questioning – where I was right, wrong or what learn. In short, these 20 years were eventful, and I feel gratitude.”

Stressing that he has always been disgusted by ‘formula’, the actor says it has always been a deliberate choice to sign films that allowed his authenticity to be reflected on the screen.

“If I do not like a movie, why expect that the audience will accept it? And who says those sitting in the movie theatre are unintelligent? Let us not have such dangerous assumptions. We have such a diverse and vivid culture boasting of so many dimensions, so why do our films have to have set parameters? We are not just about song and dance, right? For me, mainstream was limiting,” asserts Deol who is in Chandigarh for the Cnevesture International Film Festival (CIFF)

Surprisingly, some mainstream actors who have worked in independent projects have always gone back to their roots. Deol observes, that either they are struggling to get to the top or doing the same to maintain the top position. “Precisely why you do not see these ‘stars’ even in independent projects that offer a huge scope to tap their acting prowess,” he says.

The actor adds that there needs to be a change in culture about doing something distinct. “In the US, which is a much younger culture where being a rebel is something great. Here, it can be considered insulting.”

However, one cannot deny the fact that many good independent films are not marketed well. “Yes, of course, the budgets for marketing are low. But one needs to work hard on the publicity bit. Look at ‘Manorama Six Feet Under’, it became a cult hit on DVD but lacked theatre release publicity,”observes the actor who feels Prashant Nair (the director of ‘Trial by Fire’) is someone to look out for. “I would love to work with him again,” he adds.

The actor says that over the years he has learnt to take a film’s failure better. While earlier he would get into a self-destructive mode, now he looks at the silver lining — perhaps the only way to live. “I have learnt to disassociate myself with both success and failure,” adds Deol who regularly practises meditation, and Yoga and has a strict fitness schedule.”

Smiling that at one point in time, he was fighting against the system, but gradually realised that change can be brought by not disassociating oneself completely from it, Deol says that he had decided not to do any film if the writing was not as strong as in ‘Trial By Fire’. “But then Bun Tikki, directed by Faraz Arif Ansari came my way. It’s an excellent script and should be out later this year,” concludes the actor who now lives in Goa and will be opening a wellness centre there later this year.

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