Abhay Deol was determined to create his own identity when he made his debut over a decade ago but coming from a film family, the actor says he was conflicted about fame. Abhay says people initially expected him to follow in on the footsteps of his uncle Dharmendra and cousin Sunny Deol but he chose alternative cinema over commercial projects to assert his individuality.
“I feel my advantage of coming from a film family is — having seen fame up close, having seen the industry so close and how it works, I was not enamoured by fame. I wasn’t looking to be a star, I just happened to love acting, I was a reluctant actor. So I was like how do I manage this without taking in the frenzy of becoming a star,” Abhay told PTI in an interview.
Abhay, who made his debut with Imtiaz Ali’s Socha Na Tha, says he remained doubtful about fame even when it came knocking at his door. The 42-year-old actor says he “ran away” when Dev D, directed by Anurag Kashyap, became a cult hit as he felt its success would affect him “most likely in a negative way”.
“Somewhere it is negative because I should have been around to promote my film and myself. I didn’t do that. But do I regret it? No. Because it kept me grounded. Maybe I didn’t take the advantage and become a star and get all the brands so that I could solidify my space in the world,” he says. The actor played a messed up man who gets a second chance at both love and life in the film, a modern take on Devdas. Looking back, Abhay believes he should have approached the film’s success in a more balanced way.
“The reaction to Dev D success wasn’t a balanced one from my end. I ran away! I should have stayed around and seen how I could balance things. But I wasn’t capable of that. That’s my background,” he says. Though he was able to create a space for his brand of cinema, Abhay believes the industry was unwilling to put money on him.
“For the first film, putting the name (Deol) behind me is understandable but as time progressed, people started to accept (me), in fact, they liked that I was my own individual. “But the industry could not put money behind it (my individuality) because they can put money behind a brand, which is what my family name is, but they couldn’t do with the individual that I was. It didn’t make any monetary sense to them,” he says.
Even though he comes from a film background, Abhay says he is “not a protege” that filmmakers would keep taking chances on him. He went on to star in critically-acclaimed films such as Manorama Six Feet Under, Oye Lucky Lucky Oye and Shanghai. Abhay further cemented his career by venturing out in commercial movies such as Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and Happy Bhaag Jayegi. His next Nanu Ki Jaanu, a horror comedy directed by Faraz Haider, co-starring Patralekhaa, is scheduled to release on April 20.