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'I am the new Gabbar Singh and Mogambo'

December 09, 2023 10:10 IST
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'Things have changed overnight after Animal.'

IMAGE: Bobby Deol in Animal.

"I can't play caricature villains. I don't want to do that. I was offered some big film recently where I was asked to play uni-dimensional villains. I said no," Bobby Deol tells Subhash K Jha".

Your journey from Barsaat to Animal is worthy of a film?

Ha ha, you've seen me go through the best, then the worst. I just feel I am living a dream.

Your father (the legendary Dharmendra) is very proud of you?

He is. I feel this is the year of the Deols. Our fans were waiting for us to make them proud, and I think we have.

Even when you were not doing well, you had a huge following on social media.

I know! I was the Meme specialist. I didn't even know what memes meant.

One fan from Pakistan started a worldwide fan club. My fans were called Bobbyians(laughs).

The Pakistani fan's Instagram page was called Bobbywood (laughs).

IMAGE: Bobby Deol in Ashram.

Just goes to show that you remained relevant even when your films were not doing well?

It was just that I chose the wrong projects. This can happen to anyone, that it happened to me was just my luck.

But the one person who believed in me was Prakashji (Jha). When he offered me Ashram I was like, 'My God!'

When I went to meet him I was very excited. In my 26 years as an actor we came close to working together before, but it never materialised.

When he narrated Ashram, I thought he would offer me the cop's character which Darshan Kumar eventually played. He said, 'Main chahta hoon aap Baba ka role karen.'

IMAGE: Bobby Deol in Class Of 83.

How on earth did he imagine you as that slimy Baba?

(Laughs) I have no clue. I guess he saw something in me. But I will tell, everyone has a good and bad side that surfaces, depending on which side you tap.

The OTT platform revived my career. I did a good film Class Of 83 which came on the OTT one week before Ashram. Then Ashram came and took over everything.

IMAGE: Bobby Deol in Ashram.

Ashram, and now Animal, are you enjoying this period of evil?

Well, nothing can replace the magic of cinema, and I was just waiting for it happen again in my career.

Agreed that the OTT platform resumed my career. But nothing compares with the magic of cinema.

Things have changed overnight after Animal.

I give the credit to Sandeep Reddy for seeing me in that role of the villain. He saw a picture of him and decided to sign me.

Which picture?

I was not working those days. I was playing Celebrity Cricket League. That's where he saw me.

He showed me the picture. He said, 'I am casting you because I love this expression of yours.' I have that picture. I had a beard.

You still have it?

I know. I think I am stuck with it. Everybody wants me with a beard.

IMAGE: Bobby Deol in Love Hostel.

No trepidation about playing the badman?

None I see it as godsent. After Ashram I had played the badman in an OTT film Love Hostel.

It's so strange when I did Love Hostel, they wanted to do a spinoff of my character. And now they want to do spinoff of my character in Animal.

It says a lot about your star power.

(sheepishly) I guess.

IMAGE: Bobby Deol in Animal.

In Animal you come into the plot almost at the end.

It's not the length of the role, but the substance.

I can't play caricature villains. I don't want to do that.

I was offered some big film recently where I was asked to play uni-dimensional villains. I said no. I wouldn't be happy.

But you did do the films that couldn't have made you happy?

I know. Sometimes in life you do things because of circumstances. You are caught in a vulnerable situation and you give in.

Failure is a great learning experience, don't you agree?

Oh, absolutely. I didn't cope too well with failure. For four years I was into self pity and alcoholism.

I gave up. I couldn't make sense of my life. Then one day my kids asked me why I was not working. That hit me hard.

I asked myself what am I doing to myself and and my family?

What kind of an example am I setting for my kids?

Every child looks up to his or her father. Was I giving them any reason to look up to me?

How did you snap out of the stupor?

I started believing in myself once more. And since I believed in myself others did the same.

I knew once upon a time I had something special to give to the screen. I started working towards that again.

I knew I was capable, but I had lost my way.

This self-belief brought focus and discipline into my life. I told myself to ready myself for the second innings.

I felt how would I embrace opportunities if I was not prepared for them.

IMAGE: Shreyas Talpade, Sunny deol and Bobby Deol in Poster Boys.

This is when you were offered Ashram?

Before that there was Poster Boys. That's when I started to change myself.

I was working with Shreyas Talpade who was acting in the film and directing it.

I really enjoyed working with Shreyas. I learnt a lot from him about how an actor prepares.

I call him Guruji. He calls me Masterji because I played a teacher in Poster Boys.

Then suddenly Salman Khan whom I had meeting at the CCL games, offered me Race 3. I knew millions would see me in Race 3 because of Salman.

I knew the younger generation didn't know me so well. I knew if Salman was there they would get to know who Bobby Deol was.

Then I got House full 4. These were just stepping stones to my revival. These were not roles I was enjoying as an actor. Now Animal happened.

IMAGE: Bobby Deol in Animal.

What next?

Well, as you know we sign contracts so I can't speak about them.

I am doing a Web series. I am doing a Telugu and a Tamil film, and I will try to know the language well enough to dub my own lines.

I know my voice is my power.

IMAGE: Bobby Deol in Animal.

Are these mostly antagonist's roles?

They are all antagonists' roles (laughs).

I am the new Gabbar Singh and Mogambo (laughs).

I am glad I am getting villains' roles. Some how they are more fun.

They are evil, but they still get me the audiences' love.

Feature Presentation: Ashish Narsale/

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