Actor Abhay Deol talks about his upcoming production One By Two in which he plays a 30-something, wanting to break free from a mundane existence
Abhay Deol has an unenviable task ahead of him. Juggling producing and acting in a light-hearted film. He laughs aloud when I ask him why he green-lighted One By Two (releasing on January 31), a story of two young individuals who are looking for a break from monotony. “On the surface, One By Two appears to be light-hearted, but it’s a quirky slice-of-life film with a twist that will be unveiled only when it releases. It’s been my usual approach to moviemaking: dress it up like mainstream cinema and dish out content that makes the audience think differently. I remember when I suggested the idea of a lovelorn guy hooking up with a stripper (Dev D); people couldn’t digest it. So One By Two has a guitar-playing hero and a dancing heroine and seven songs, but in its essence, it is out-of-the-box,” says Abhay.Shifting gear
The actor, often hailed as the poster boy of Hindi cinema (“I am proud and humbled I was called that!” he confesses), insists it isn’t a toning down of his goal. While this is a co-production with film distributor and producer Amit Kapoor and Viacom 18, Abhay’s first outing under his production banner Forbidden Films was to be Basra, a film on a RAW (Research and Analysis Wing) agent. “No, I will not revive Basra at all. Back then there was no film on this subject. But how many films have you seen recently about agents?” he laughs. About One By Two, Abhay says, “It is about the middle-class people of our generation who have dreams, but have to accept reality. I think people in their 30s have realised that it is a second coming-of-age. You suddenly feel that what you are doing may not be what you want to, but have done it for long enough to make everything else look a little difficult. But Amit Sharma (his character in the film) has reached the end of his tether and wants to break free. I’d say you must not judge a book by its cover. The film will surprise you with its content.”
Abhay spells out the roadmap for his production house. “I want to make edgier films, but the challenge is in marrying art with the commercial elements. If you talk of Dev D, I believe we had to tone it down to make it a happy ending, unlike what I had thought originally. In One By Two, the only thing that’s ‘commercial’ is our songs. I try and do what comes naturally. So if there have to be flashy moments, there will be. The one thing I totally detest is dancing, though.” Asked if Zoya Akhtar put a gun to his head to make him dance to ‘Senorita’ in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, he bursts into laughter. “Almost. She’s a dear friend and I was left with no option. If you give me 15 days, I can even work hard enough and give you a dance. But when I get a mere two days with two guys making it look all so simple, boy that’s tough!” he shrugs.
The self-confessed stubborn and laidback 37-year-old says one thing we’d never see is 16 different shots of his being taken, demonstrating his athletic build. “I am not comfortable, and I am very vocal about what I want to do. When I started out in films, I knew I didn’t want to take the regular route. However, I had no idea I would define a different space. I hope I can continue that with my productions as well. We hope to invest in fresh as well as existing talent, which is looking at doing something new. Also, you won’t see me in all my films. I did this one; probably I’ll do the next, but not every film I produce.”