His much-discussed Hindi film, Road Movie, has been officially invited for a world premiere as a special presentation at The Toronto International Film Festival, 2009. In a rare interview, the young Deol opens up about the film that's been kept guarded all this time:
What was your reaction when you first heard the narration of Road, Movie from Dev Benegal?
I didn't have a narration, I actually read the script and it was really nice, dreamy and humorous. It's Rajasthan (a North-Indian state), so I kinda had a nice feel about it. I knew Dev (Benegal) and was sure that he would get a good team together. Then there was Studio 18 behind it, which was a big plus point as well. It's important for a good script and director to have the right backing. All I had to do is to sign on the dotted line, which I did!
Road, Movie has been produced for Indian Films and Studio 18 by well-known US-based producers, Ross Katz and Susan B. Landau. Did you know about them?
I got to know Susan on the shoot; she was the person behind the wheel driving us. It was cute to watch her work in an Indian milieu. On the way she began to pick up a bit of Indian-ness, which was great. I met Ross briefly in New York at the screening of Slumdog Millionaire.
Tell us the experience of working with Tannishtha Chatterjee and Satish Kaushik in Road, Movie?
Satish Kaushik and Tannishta are seasoned actors with a great body of work. I got to know them during the making of the film and it was a pleasure. Dev is a great director to work with as well. He's very clear in his thought process and very receptive to ideas and opinions. When he has something nice to say that means he's really angry and when he has something nasty to say he's really happy. He was nasty for the most part so that was a good thing!
Tell us a bit about your character in Road Movie?
It's very different from the ones I've played previously. He's very simple, urban and non-verbal. It was a journey through life for him - comic, dramatic, coming of age, growing up and discovering freedom. He doesn't have an idea of what he wants to do, all he know is that he doesn't want to be in this town because he doesn't see a future for himself. He fears he'll end up like his father.
The truck is an integral character in Road, Movie. Tell us a bit about your romance with it?
It was hectic but fun. I had to drive a truck- a 1943 Chevy in which a brand new engine had to be put! It wouldn't go further than 40-50 miles an hour and in a sequence where I had to drive it really fast everyone was afraid that the truck would collapse!
The wind shield was too low, so I had to slouch and drive. The rear view mirrors looked up on the back of the truck so I couldn't see the traffic behind me but over time I got used to it.
What's been your biggest take-away from the Road, Movie experience?
It was my eighth film, I was mature by then... it was a great experience overall. I made some great friends and slogged in the desert heat. I hope it does well because it's not a run-of-the-mill Bollywood film. It is a dry feel-good comedy, poetic and subtle in its humour, beautifully shot and surreal.
What would you say is the USP of Road, Movie?
Its execution. It's a beautifully shot universal story with minimal dialogues. The movie is told through silences through the road journey.
What were your thoughts on finding out about its official selection and world premiere at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival, 2009?
I was excited and delighted because this is the kind of film that merits a huge international platform. Its script was an official selection at L'Atelier du Cannes in 2006. It is being represented internationally by Fortissimo Films. Road, Movie is their first Indian take-up. The film is Indian at heart but international in attitude and personality. It caters to the South-Asian and mainstream audiences alike.
Having delivered a slew of sleeper hits that broke Bollywood stereotypes and gave the Indian film industry a new direction, Abhay Deol, who hails from an illustrious film family, is being touted as India's young, successful new-age hero.