He’s not your archetypal testosterone-fuelled, buffed up Bollywood male. Abhay Deol is definitely more believable and relatable on-screen than his peers. With a penchant for realism, Deol stepped into mainstream cinema at a time when the definition of Bollywood cinema was changing, and so were the tastes and expectations of the audience.
About his soon-to-release film One by Two, he says, “The plot is about two people who impact on each other’s lives, yet are complete strangers and how they build a relationship together.” Preeti Desai, who made her debut in Shor in the City (2011), acts in the film too.
“When I entered the scene in 2005, there was little experimentation; so it was very hard to make movies such as Manorama Six Feet Under (2007), Dev D (2009) or Ek Chalis Ki Last Local (2007). Today, I’m not saying they are experimenting to the level I wish they would, but at least there is more talent from outside now,” he says.
Deol’s movies grab the imagination of the middle-class and the youth. “I think it is because in my own way, I am rebelling against the system. And I think rebellion is something adults don’t like. It is also not romanticised as it is in the West. That is also the reason why we don’t have a counter-culture movement. The youth is always flexible, inexperienced and conclusively idealistic; and you can only rebel when you’re young. That could be why I resonate with the young people,” he says.
So, is Abhay Deol setting precedence for a counter-culture? “It is an intimidating proposition. I think pop-culture is already there, embodied by Bollywood. But then, we do need an alternative, a counter culture because it makes us that much richer.”