Breaking stereotypes

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Tête-à-tête Abhay Deol on what it was like working with director Dev Benegal for Road, Movie

Abhay Deol's latest film, Road, Movie , was screened on the opening night at the Berlin International Film Festival to a rousing reception. With his choice of films, Abhay Deol continues to break the stereotypical norms in the Hindi film industry. Excerpts from an interview:

Dev seems to be a recurrent theme in your life. After acting in Dev D, you are working with director Dev Benegal in Road, Movie.

Absolutely. And from Dev Benegal, he soon became Dev B.

Had you heard of Dev Benegal when he came to you with the script?

Yes, I had heard about him. In fact, I had seen a film made by him called Split Wide Open. When I saw the film, I thought to myself ‘Kahan kahan se log director ban jaate hai; I will never work with him.'

With that kind of preconceived notion, how in the world did Benegal convince you to sign up for Road, Movie?

He actually kidnapped my parents and said he would kill them if I didn't do the film. I was a prisoner on the sets ( laughs uproariously). More seriously, though, I read the script and thought it was really nice, dreamy and humorous. It's based in Rajasthan, so I kind of had a nice feel about it. I knew Dev would get a good team together. Also, it was backed by (production house) Studio 18, which was a big plus point. So, I went ahead and signed on the dotted line.

Considering the movie was shot on the road, it must have been uncomfortable…

When Dev approached me for the film, he said he wanted to shoot it in the month of March. I told him I was sorry as I was shooting for Dev D during that period. So he shifted the shoot to the summer months in Rajasthan … I remember how we were cramped up in the truck — Satishji, Faizal and I in the heat of Rajasthan. In fact, Tannishtha didn't even get a seat; she got a bit of space in the rear.

How was it working with Tannishtha and Satish Kaushik for the first time?

Satishji and Tannishtha are seasoned actors with a great body of work behind them. I got to know them during the making of the film and it was a pleasure.

And did you change your opinion about Dev Benegal?

Dev is a great director to work with. His thought process is clear and he is very receptive to ideas and opinions. Interestingly, when he has something nice to say, it means he's really angry; and when he has something nasty to say, it means he's really happy. He was nasty for the most part of the shoot, and 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. He doesn't have an idea of what he wants to do, all he knows is 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. For him, it is a journey through life — comic, dramatic, coming-of-age and discovering freedom.

You come up with very interesting films — is it by choice or sheer luck?

I guess it is both. No one will offer me a big Bollywood film; if they want to watch a Bollywood film, they will go to a Shah Rukh film. What I was being offered were B-grade films. So I thought if I had to do something, then why not do something different, which people will see because of me too?


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