Abhay Deol has walked on a road less travelled in Hindi cinema and the actor says it was important for him to achieve "creative" satisfaction over "commercial success".
Courtesy his unconventional choices right from his debut Socha Na Tha to films like Manorama Six Feet Under, Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye, Dev D, and Shanghai, he was touted as the poster boy of indie cinema when he entered Bollywood 16 years ago.
“We are working in a field where it is not nine-to-five that what you deliver eventually dictates what you will get coming into the future. It is not a secure industry you could be up one day and gone the next (day).
“I wanted to do well enough for me to continue making films I wanted to make, which nobody was making at the time when I started. So, it was more to try, not that I wanted success not so much... It was never a numbers game, it was always a creative game,” Abhay, who has also starred in the mainstream Hindi films like Aisha, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, and Raanjhanaa, said.
As long as his creativity was recognised, the actor said, he knew that he could get his next job. “… because everybody as much as (needs) that commercial success, they also want that creative success. And commercial success can generally follow a formula that's why they (are) commercially successful, there’s nothing new. Something new is always a risk and I chose that path,” he told in a Zoom interview.
His next Velle, backed by Bollywood superstar Ajay Devgn, is an adaptation of the 2019 Telugu crime-comedy Brochevarevarura. When he saw the original movie, Abhay said he found the subject interesting. He said he shared his suggestions with the makers, which they agreed to.
“I've always wanted to entertain but at the same time reflecting on being like a mirror to the society I am from. Movies create culture, they can either just reflect that culture so you can be objective about it or they can create culture, provoke you and I think I've kind of done both. This one is definitely something that's reflective of culture and will essentially entertain,” he said.
In Velle, Abhay essays the role of a writer-director, a character he drew from his experiences in the entertainment industry. “The character of a writer is kind of cynical, he is bitter from his experiences in the industry. I've had my own share of cynicism, maybe not so much bitterness, but at least I've been cynical. So, I definitely channel that.
“There was not so much of it in the original draft, he was just really nice. My feedback to the director was he is just too nice to be true especially if the experiences that he has had. And in real life, it'll reflect in the way they speak or in the way they are.”
Velle is directed by Deven Munjal, who has previously worked on films like Main Hoon Na and Om Shanti Om in different capacities. It is set to be released in theatres on December 10.
This will also be the first time that Abhay will share screen space with his nephew Karan Deol, son of his cousin and actor-MP Sunny Deol, in Velle. The actor said he could relate to Karan Deol – who is trying to make a mark for himself in the industry with varied roles – a bit more as they both hail from the same film family. Karan Deol made his acting debut in 2019 with "Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas", directed by Sunny Deol.
“When I look at any actor, I can relate to that experience because I myself was a beginner at one time. I could relate to him a bit more because we have the same upbringing and ideas about what to do and how to be. I could see a bit of my own self in him more,” he added.
Abhay, who is presently dividing time between in India and the US, said things are moving smoothly for him. He was last seen in the Disney Channel original movie "Spin" (2021). “It's fun, it's a different market. It's just to broaden my horizons a little bit,” he said.
“I have been the executive producer of a horror film and there's this new film called ‘Pep’. It is executive produced by Leonardo DiCaprio's company Appian Way. I'm in the production, putting a few projects together over here,” he added.
Abhaywill also be seen in a Netflix limited series whose working title is The Trial By Fire, he said.