Abhay Deol: For me success means being happy

Fresh off the success of OTT series Trial By Fire, Bollywood actor speaks about the off-beat choices he has made over the years

By Sadiq Saleem

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Published: Mon 27 Feb 2023, 12:01 PM

Last updated: Mon 27 Feb 2023, 12:43 PM

Abhay Deol is different from the get-go. In this day and age where stars do not leave any opportunity of exposure (read PR), Abhay strives not to make a big deal about himself and lets his work speak for itself. And his work speaks volumes about his craft and the abundant talent that he possesses. His career is filled with risks that he has taken over the years but they have also been rewarded in the form of respect that he has earned as an actor. Coming from the famous Deol family, Abhay never sat on the laurels of his lineage, infact, he set out on a course that was less tread upon and carved a niche for himself.

His latest OTT series Trial By Fire where he plays the role of a father who loses both his children in an accident has received rave reviews. This again proves that when it comes to an effortless ability to command the lens, look no further.

As an actor, when you portray a character who has gone through a personal tragedy, isn’t there a constant state of sadness on your mind? How do you deal with that?

Every drama, whether a true story or not, has its own zone and when I am doing a drama I get pulled into that zone. For instance, I cannot give a dramatic shot and then joke around after the shot is cut and then get into the dramatic zone again. If it’s a comedy, then you can do that easily. You can be funny and carry on that humour and then give another shot in the same mood. In a drama setting, it is harder to get into a serious zone when you are being nonserious.

Was it easy to get out of the character of Shekhar Krishnamoorthy?

You know all of us in the world have something or the other to deal with. But when you see a tragedy around you which is this big, then you tend to forget your ordeals and just feel grateful for your life. It wasn’t very hard to get into this character as much as it was to get out of it. Because it was easy to grieve and get shocked by the fact that this really happened with a family.

Your films and projects have been major commercial successes. How do you measure your own success?

I can talk about success in its broader sense. Some measure it by the bank balance that they have and for some it is the number of fans and followers or cars that are parked outside your house. You could have all the luxuries, but you still may not be a happy person. For me success means being happy. If I am able to do the kind of work which I like to do, if what I have done looks good and I am satisfied with my performance, then that makes me happier. If it becomes a hit, it’s icing on the cake but the cake is my satisfaction from my work.

From Dev D to Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, your choice of characters that you play has been very unique. What is that one thing you look at when you are offered a script?

If I were to bring it down to one point, then it has to be relatability. If I can’t show the character as relatable, then there are high chances that people will not like it or remember it. Within that space of being relatable I also try to be creative. One doesn’t have to conform to the standard way of entertainment. You don’t have to follow a certain formula to entertain. The more you take chances, the richer you get in experience.

You come from a very illustrious film family that has produced superstars. But do you agree that the concept of super stardom has changed overtime?

Stars are still as attractive as they were, and people still love them as before. I don’t think that has changed. What has changed is that the teenagers that are a significant portion of your box office bank have grown up in the age of internet with access to variety of entertainment and their outlook to life is very different compared to the generation that came before. On top of that, during the lockdown people consumed even more of the content and the concept of binge watching kicked in where going to cinema felt like bit of an unnecessary effort.

Do you follow reviews and do you think that they have the power to make or break a project?

There are a handful reviewers that I read and take seriously but I believe everyone is a reviewer nowadays. I don’t even know of their abilities either. Not that a reviewer should be able to make a movie but if you are examining something, the least that is expected of you is to know the technical aspects of movie making. There are a very few critics who are doing their job for constructive purposes, most of them have an agenda or have integrity issues. At the end of the day it’s the people’s verdict that matters. They don’t come with any agenda, they purely come to watch their favorite actors or subject. They are the ones who tell you if you have delivered or not.

And what do you have to say about media and their role in general?

Most of the times I have noticed that media takes something out of context and run it as the biggest news of the day and there it completely loses its real meaning. It is all done to encourage click and bait. Disinformation tends to travel faster than correct Information and that is a huge disservice to the industry. Stars are also normal humans, and they should not be held to an impossible standard. Same person who is idolized and elevated today can get cancelled and destroyed tomorrow and we have seen so many innocent people fall victim to it.

Is that the reason you don’t give a lot of interviews and it is hard to get hold of you?

I like to stay away from the limelight and I don’t want to make too much of a big deal of myself. Part of that comes from my experience of growing up in a famous family and I know how intrusive fame can get sometimes. But I am also like that as a performer. I don’t want my performance to be talked about as much as I want my show or film to be talked about. My job is just to blend in the overall background. So don’t talk about me, let me just be a part of the scene. Like most DOPs say, I don’t want people to notice my work, it should just blend in. That is how I like for myself as well.

Sadiq Saleem is a Dubai based entertainment writer. His Instagram handle is @sadiqidas.

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