Thursday, July 20, 2006
From a commendable debut in Socha Na Tha, the youngest member of the Deol clan is on his way to create a distinct niche for himself by trying not to follow the foot-steps of his macho family.
We're talking about your latest film Ahista Ahista. Tell us something about it.
It is based in Delhi. I play a character called Ankush. He works as a witness outside the marriage office in Delhi. He makes his money by signing when people get married. One day a girl shows up. It looks quite obvious that she is waiting for her husband. He offers his services. When her fiancÉ doesn't show up, he offers to help. The movie is about what happens between the two of them.
Tell us something more about your character.
He is a middle class guy who has lived in Delhi all his life. We didn't want to portray him as a typical tapori. He has been brought up in an orphanage. He needs to be presentable and charming for the kind of work that he does. He needs to charm people and make his money. I don't believe that everyone from the streets is loud and brash. He has no hidden agendas.
In Ahista Ahista... you play a simpleton. Is it difficult to portray such characters.... Considering that you've probably had quite a fancy upbringing.
I have studied and worked abroad. When I came back, I did a few odd jobs here and there. There were days of struggle. Whenever, I have to play a character who has had a harder life than me, I try and think of those days. Ankush is a guy essentially on his own who is trying to make a living. Everyone is working and trying to make a living, whether they are rich or not. So there is no difference as such. It is just that the lifestyle is different. Essentially, everyone works hard. Higher the money, higher the stakes! The key to the character is his simplicity. He is straightforward and simple which will attract the audience.
Tell us about the rapport that you share with your co-stars.
Well, along with me, it stars, Shayan and Soha. Shayan's a cool guy. I have known his wife since many years now. I got to know him during the making of this film. Soha too is very professional. Soha and myself are similar in many ways. We got along really well. I think she is a bundle of talent. And so is Shayan.
Shivam Nair makes his debut with Ahista Ahista. How was it working with him?
I have known him since many years. He saw me through the making of Socha Na Tha. He has been doing television since 12-13 years. So he is not really a newcomer. He has made one day thrillers. I have known him for so many years that he is almost like a mentor to me. I was excited that finally I got a chance to work with him. I always had faith that he would do a good job. He is a smart, talented guy. We vibe really well. It was a good rapport and we will do more work together.
Tell us about the music of the film.
It has been done by Himesh Reshammiya. He is really popular among the masses. I think he has a great sense of melody. He was really passionate about this project. He went through a lot of the tracks that he had. I think he has come up with something that is different from what he has been doing. Even the critics are saying that. I really like the music.
With such a young cast and crew, it must have been like a party on the sets....
There were a lot of good people on the sets. I think I was the worst of the lot. I gave them a hard time. Sometimes I would be moody and angry and would take it all out on them, because they are newcomers. So am I! The entire team was great. They had a lot of faith in the director. Nobody compromised on anything. If the director wanted something, that was it. If a particular location was required, permission would be taken anyhow. Everyone worked hard. I am grateful to this team. I felt bad later on that perhaps I could have been a little easier. But then it was a tough film to make. There were long hours of shoot. Also certain scenes were quite taxing. I gave some of them a hard time. But at the end of the day, they all understood!
What is the USP of the film?
I frankly never understood the meaning of USP! I mean you know the meaning and hear the term all the time! But you don't know the full form. I think I am very bad at such questions. I can't say that so and so aspect of my movie is great! I'm the kind of guy who will say that we have put in our heart and soul in the film. I can't tell you if it's a great film. Watch it for yourself and decide. I don't like to put words in people's mouths. We're sensible film makers. Shivam's a bright guy. I've always tried to do work that is grounded. I don't want the audience to watch something that is loud. I believe in films that reach out to the audience. The movie should tug on their heart strings and not be superficial at all. Essentially it is up to the audience to watch and decide. I promise you that it is a sensible film. You will go out smiling after watching the film. It does not go over the top.
You seem to be working with a lot of debutante directors? Is it a conscious decision?
All my films have been with debutante directors. It's not like it was pre-decided. It just worked out that way. One day while working, it just struck me that all the films are with debutante directors! But I am happy because I enjoyed doing all the films. I've had a good experience with the producers and the crew.
One of your talked about forthcoming films is Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Limited. Tell us something about that.
I play a character named Aspi who is married to Zara. There are six couples in the film. It deals with newly married couples and what it is like to be with someone brand new. It is a light take on such issues.
Tell us something more about your character.
The less I say, the better it is! He is a bawa! He and his wife (played by Minissha Lamba) are crazy and really into each other. They've been together for many years and have finally gotten married. They seem like the ideal golden couple. All the couples around are intrigued because they wonder why these two never fight.
What about 1:40 Ki Last Local?
Well, everyone thinks that it has been shot in a train. It is actually about how he misses the last local which is the 1:40 train. He can't get an auto or cab because there is a strike. He has to wait for two and a half hours for the next train. What happens in that period is what the movie is about. Its one crazy night wherein a lot of bad things happen! He somehow manages to get out of it, alive. It has comedy and also a lot of thrilling elements. It's probably one of the wackier films I have done.
Tell us about the rapport that you share with your cousins, Sunny and Bobby?
I am asked this question all the time. I live on my own now but have been brought up in a joint family. We were like a big mad house. I share close bonds with all my cousins. We are a very close knit family. We were really sheltered in our upbringing. I think that is what has kept all of us close, till date.
Do they give you acting tips? Or career related advice?
They just advised me to be straight in my dealings since it is a very tricky industry. The cleaner you are, the better it is. Life will be stress free if you do that. I have really taken that advice. It's a very special lesson that I have learnt. It's not like they tell me to act in a particular way, onscreen, because the director has to do that. All I have been given is some good fatherly advice. And of course, they always encourage me, to do my best.
Do you think you've had it easy, since you're from a film family?
Most people think that kids from a film family are flooded with offers. And that there was some red carpet rolled out for me to enter. It's not like that at all. There are pros and cons of being from a film family. The family name is the pro. It's easy to throw that name at someone and get his attention. That's a huge advantage. It is the achievement of my tayaji (Dharmendra) and brothers (Sunny and Bobby). Other than that, there are no advantages.
When I entered the industry, people thought, "He is a Deol but he has such a sweet face!" I was told I am too thin and can't beat people up! Frankly, I am not interested in portraying a particular image. I chose Socha Na Tha, a romantic comedy, because it was a nice story. If I was offered a good action film, I probably would have done that. So there are a lot of pre conceived notions and comparisons. The film was appreciated. It eventually became a hit. When people saw it on television, the TRP ratings were very high. A lot of DVDs of the film were sold. But still it wasn't like I was flooded with offers, after that. From my forthcoming films as well, barring Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd, none of the films belong to big banners. I got all my other films on the basis on my work on Socha Na Tha. Most of my films are with newcomers and small time guys. It's tough for newcomers to get a project, ready. When you are established, you have your contacts and budgets. When you are new, you have to go through struggles. So in that sense, I think even I have had struggles. But I think my work will speak for itself. It doesn't matter who you are related to. If you can't perform, you can't perform! There is nothing you can do about it.