Abhay Deol, the poster boy of alternative Hindi cinema!
Nephew of screen legend Dharmendra and cousin to Sunny and Bobby, Abhay Deol might hail from the film fraternity, but that does not mean you will catch this Deol running around the trees or playing the action hero. With acclaimed performances in Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! and Dev.D, which has just bagged a clutch of Filmfare awards, taking the road less travelled has made all the difference for the poster boy of offbeat film. Steven Baker caught up with front runner of the independent Indian cinema movement as he prepares for his eighth release in Road, Movie.
In a really short pitch, it’s about a guy driving a truck through the desert which he discovers is actually a moving cinema. In one line that would be the story. Of course there are many layers to the film. It is an adventurous story about a protagonist maturing, who has not really been out there much. He takes upon the responsibility of driving this truck, and we see what happens to him on the way, the kind of people he meets, how they influence him, and what he discovers about himself.
What were your experiences of the shoot?
I remember we shot for two months then we had to take a break because we lost the location in Gujarat because of the rain. So you can say about two and a half months. It was beautifully shot and I don't know how many Indo- American productions have been made, but we had people from America, people from France, and of course many of the team were Indians, so a nice joint effort of people coming from around the globe.
Coming from a film family did you have an insight before entering the industry?
The job is not glamorous. When you are working I’ve seen the way my uncle and my cousins work hours and hours in a day to make a movie. So I won't be dying to be on magazine covers or giving interviews and all. It is part of the job – it wasn’t part of the attraction. You do have a personal insiders’ view. But in the beginning it was still difficult to get work.
Your uncle Dharmendra was given a lifetime achievement award when the IIFA’s were staged in Yorkshire. Flash forward to 2050 do you see yourself having longevity in film and becoming a veteran of the industry?
I hope I last. I hope I survive. As long as I am allowed to grow and learn new things I will stay in the industry. I would walk out if there was no growth or adventure anymore. Longevity is something I would want if I am giving something creative. It is not something I can predict or aim for but will come as a result of the work I do.
You worked with French descended Filmfare winner Kalki in Dev.D. What is your perception of foreign actors in the Hindi film industry?
Bombay cinema needs to expand its horizons in many ways. As soon as you open up content ideas, you open up Bollywood more for people of all sorts of backgrounds to partake of it... For foreigners the difficulty can be language barriers. But with Kalki, she was born in India and knows the language so has an advantage. She is Indian in that sense. I think there is a lot of scope and the more we become universal in our approach to subjects the more universal we will have an audience.
It seems that social network sites are an essential component to being a star in Hindi cinema. Yet if @abhaydeol is your real Twitter profile, it seems you have posted only one solitary tweet.
One of my friends said you have to do it, you have to do this. So I did post that one post ‘OH no I’m on twitter!’ That was me actually.
So are you tempted to start tweeting regularly like actors such as Shah Rukh Khan?
I wouldn’t know what to say, I’m not good with technology to begin with. I don't want to start it and get bored after a month or two and drop it. And then what? Once you commit to it you have to follow it through I suppose. If I don’t get into I’ll probably offend less people than if I did and went on to drop it.
Steven Baker is a Hindi film journalist and post graduate in Indian cinema.
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