Karan Deol is ready for stardom
Karan Deol and Sahher Bambba in a still from Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas
Sunny Deol's son talks up his debut film Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas.
Some would argue that it's a cakewalk being a star kid in Bollywood. One all-important phone call to the right person (a top filmmaker in the industry) and you have an audition with a 100 percent chance of getting the role. Or, in a lot of cases, your own family helms your debut film. Now hundreds of up and coming actors with no 'connections' may never get these chances. Maybe it's unfair that you get ahead purely because of who you are. But you still have to prove yourself. You have to make a film work through your talent. You have to deal with often overwhelming expectations. So how do you still come out shining?
Karan Deol, whose debut film Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas releases today in the UAE, is currently in a situation somewhat like the one described above. He belongs to a legendary acting dynasty. His grandfather is Dharmendra, a screen icon who starred in over 300 films during the course of an almost 60-year-career, including the iconic Sholay. His father is Sunny Deol who made an impactful debut with 1983's Betaab and went on to become a successful actor who was most famous for his action avatar in films like Ghayal, Ghatak and Jeet.
For a budding actor, those are some seriously high standards to live up to. In a chat with City Times, Karan says he's "nervous, excited, happy" about the release of Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas. "I have a lot of mixed feelings. Obviously there will be comparisons because I'm Sunny Deol's son. I don't really think of it, because the more you think of these things the more you succumb to the pressure. You can not think of it and be your own person. I'm trying to walk out of the shadow of being Sunny Deol's son and hopefully my work will speak for itself."
An adventurous love story
Pal Pal Dil Ke Pass is being directed by Sunny Deol and also stars newcomer Sahher Bambba. Karan elaborates on his role in the love story set in the snowy, hilly regions of Himachal Pradesh in India.
"I play someone who runs an adventure camp and who leads solo and group expeditions to different mountain peaks. I am a happy-go-lucky guy who's in love with nature, and in love with life, and likes to live life on the edge; doing things like rappelling, river crossing gives me an adrenaline rush kind of high."
The trailer for Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas features some high-energy outdoor activities like rock climbing, watersports and ziplining, setting the film apart from more conventional love stories.
What was filming those scenes like? "Pretty intense," Karan says. "While filming at a 400-feet drop from the edge of a cliff - when I looked down and then looked at myself I thought, 'Rocky (his nickname), what the hell did you get yourself into?' And while coming down rappelling, I think, okay, smile, you have to be happy, you can't be scared. And by the end of the take when the cameras were cut it was a sense of relief and a sense of achievement also."
Seeing as he comes from such an illustrious Bollywood family, was it natural that he should pursue acting? "I've always wanted to be an actor, since the age of four or five. But I was a shy kinda kid, so I never took it seriously. At the age of 18 I decided it was time for me to break out of that fear and become an actor and that's when I eventually told mom, dad and everyone in the house," he reveals.
It's no surprise that Karan's favourite actor is his dad Sunny.
"He's my superhero, he's my role model and I look up to him. Among his films, I love Arjun, Ghayal, Ghatak, Betaab, Gaddar, Border, and Damini. There are too many favourites."
A dream come true
Sahher Bambba, who makes her Bollywood debut alongside Karan in Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas, came into the limelight after winning the Bombay Times Fresh Face (2017) pageant.
She says starring in her first Hindi film is a very "surreal" feeling. In a chat with City Times, she admits, "This is something that I always wanted to do. I decided that I wanted to get into this industry when I was four or five. I would watch the quintessential Hindi films and I was so much in love with the song and dance aspect. I was always one of those kids who would enjoy the attention dancing away to Hindi film songs in the living room when people or cousins or anyone would come home.
"So it was a dream come true and it was something very far-fetched. I didn't think that I would get a chance to work with such a reputed family so early on in my life. My parents went to the theatre to watch Sunny Deol's Betaab and my older cousins have been crushing on Bobby Deol ever since Barsaat released, so for me to be a part of the third generation - Karan's debut - was a big deal."
Though the trailer sees the couple bonding over adventure sports, Sahher agrees with Karan that filming these scenes was tough.
"The stunts in the film have been done by both Karan and myself - no doubles have been used. We shot in sub-zero conditions and we were thrown into glacial water and we had to cross a river which had such a high current! It was really cold. There was a waterfall which was so cold, even the water was frozen and there were icicles over there, and we had to rappel down.
"After rappelling down there was a pool of water, at the end of the waterfall, where we were thrown, not twice but thrice. So all the action in the film, whether it was rappelling or anything else was very challenging and getting to these locations was a tougher task because we had to trek for eight to nine hours, then set up the base camp and then every morning we would trek from there for 40-45 minutes. So action, and in general shooting for the film, was pretty tough."
Sahher is Preity inspired!
Sahher tells us she's always had an inclination towards films. "I would watch Preity Zinta in Dil Chahta Hai and I would braid my hair overnight for those curls that she had in the film. So this (acting) is something I really wanted to do, and as I am from Shimla, and there weren't as many opportunities there, after my schooling I thought I should go to Mumbai for college, because of the exposure. After winning a pageant, I got a call from the casting director of Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas. So I went and gave a couple of rounds of auditions and the last one was with Sunny Deol; within a week I got a call that I was selected."
While speaking about her Bollywood favourites, Sahher admits to being a big Karan Johar Fan. "I've seen all his films and Kal Ho Na Ho is my favourite, most watched film of all time. In recent times I've thoroughly enjoyed Gully Boy. Among actors, Varun Dhawan is an all time favourite. Ranbir Kapoor, Ranveer Singh, Vicky Kaushal. they're doing such amazing jobs. Deepika Padukone, Priyanka Chopra, all the outsiders who have made it so big... I think there's so much to learn from them."