Before I start speaking to Deepak Dobriyal about films and more, I tell him how personally I’ve always loved his work. We might have lauded him as Tanu Weds Manu’s Pappi or Hindi Medium’s Shyam Prakash, but he feels it is sheer chance if his kitty gets filled with films. “Sometimes you get 4-5 films together by luck. Good thing is you keep improving with time so even good films become better,” said the versatile actor in a candid chat with indianexpress.com. He further spoke about his struggles and how even his villainous acts end up getting more love than hatred!
“I come from a theatre background where I was a serious actor, an actor with depth. When I came to movies, I had to become spineless, because acting for cinema is different. There was a different kind of struggle here. It changed my mindset and creativity all together. It is important to survive in Mumbai in the first place. If you manage to do that, then the actor in you is put to test. Adding to this is the desire to do work of one’s choice. All this wasted 3-4 years of my life. I had to start from zero. In the process, I did not filter the roles that were coming to me. Comic or serious, I just did the roles. Serious roles were for villains and there are a lot of actors already playing villains. Plus, my comic roles became hit. The films in which I did serious roles were not big hits. See, serious roles get you respect, and funny roles get you the love of the public,” Deepak said while recalling how difficult it was for him to fit in Mumbai.
“It began with Maqbool. Then I kept doing whatever came my way. If you live in a mediocre circle, your mentality also becomes like that. You need to build your standard in a certain way. After doing Omkara, Gulaal and Shaurya, I reached here. This is all a journey and you keep moving,” he added.
One of the most underrated actors in the industry, Deepak has been part of films like Delhi-6, Dabangg 2, Tanu Weds Manu Returns, Prem Ratan Dhan Payo, Lucknow Central and the recent Kaalakaandi. And in each one, he has walked away with his share of applause. So, does his middle-man act strike a chord with the audience? “People have siblings with names like Pappi, Genda… Frankly speaking, all the roles which I’ve got are from the script. Since we stay in our circle full of life, most of the inspiration comes from there. Then you add your imagination to it. My image had become of a beloved person,” Deepak shared.
“If I play a villain, I am treated as a beloved character, if I play a comic character, even then I am treated as a beloved one. So I wanted to get out of this ‘beloved’ image and wanted a new image. Now, I have decided to enhance my performance and for that I need to explore more shades to show people,” he added.
In a filmy career spanning over 15 years, Deepak has done significant roles, most of the times playing the second lead. However, he begs to differ. “The world must be thinking that he is second lead or third lead, I see myself as the lead there, even if I am doing one scene or even a passing shot. I may not be the lead in the script but while shooting I consider myself as one. That’s how you can leave some impact. If at the very start, you limit yourself thinking that you have a small role, then the excitement in the work starts to end,” he explains.
Deepak’s latest film titled Kuldeep Patwal: I didn’t do it, which released last weekend, has him play the lead role of a man accused of the murder of a politician. “He speaks less. He is the central point of society. Is he the target of some conspiracy or has he really committed the crime? We’ve made a different kind of political thriller. Director did an experiment and did not tell us the end. He gave a different expression to every character. And everyone acted it in their own way,” Deepak said.
I quizzed him if life would’ve been any different if he had entered films today, he quipped, “Oh yes! Had I debuted today, I would have been a big star. If I had known people in the industry from beforehand, things would’ve been different. See today there is a lot of variety in the content. So now the scope is very high.”
So, what has been his personal favourite role? “The role of Shyam Prakash (Hindi Medium). That role really gave me a lot of satisfaction. And also in Kaalakandi,” he said.
Deepak had missed a Filmfare award for Best Supporting Actor recently. Ask him what is more satisfying – audience love or awards, and he shares, “When I see the audience enjoying, I really like it. No award can match that feeling and that public reaction. And that is what I work for, to get that public reaction. And it is not that I only want to make people laugh. I did Gulaal and people were shocked, and I enjoyed seeing that shocked reaction as well.
Deepak’s next movie is Kaamyaab, alongside Sanjay Mishra, apart from NH10 director Navdeep Singh’s next.