You have been doing action scenes for three decades now starting with your debut film Betaab in 1983. What has changed?
Earlier, when we did action films, we didn’t have as many safety measures like we do now. It’s a welcome change. Also, because of the strong influence from the South, action has become better and larger than life. You know how I started with action? I had strict instructions from my dad not to do any action scene in Betaab. But during a shoot, a horse started bucking and my body double could not do the shot. I performed that shot and ended up doing all my action sequences in that film.
What was the most difficult action scene in your forthcoming film Singh Saab the Great?
The film’s climax was shot in a nullah (drain). For 15 days during winter, I was drenched and it was very cold. It didn’t bother me but I realised the fighters were falling ill and getting replaced.
In Singh Saab the Great, newcomer Urvashi Rautela plays your wife. Your romantic leads are getting younger with time.
It’s not about being young or old; it’s about portraying a role with conviction. You can disguise your age only to a point where it looks convincing.
What happened to your romantic film with Kangana Ranaut titled Happy New Year? It has been in the pipeline for release since a long time.
It is a beautiful subject spanning one day and one night. Hopefully, it will be released after Singh Saab. Among my forthcoming films, I love Mohalla Assi in which I am playing a Sanskrit teacher and Bhaiyyaji Superhit where I have a double role.
Why do we see you in fewer films now?
I need a film to work at the box-office. Besides, my back problem kept me away from cinema. But now I am doing films with as much energy as before. Ever since the multinationals came in, the filmmaking scenario has changed. Somehow, I didn’t get the opportunity to sail the wave like the other actors. The Deols are not good at marketing; we let our work speak for us and that’s our shortcoming. But I’ve not gone anywhere. I’m glad my fans still love me.
You haven’t directed a film since Dillagi which was 14 years ago. Why?
Once I launch my kids, I might get into direction but currently I just want to act because I haven’t done it for a very long time. I want to do more films and be successful so that I can do more work.
When are you planning to launch your sons, Karan and Rajveer?
My sons will join films when they are ready, maybe a year from now. Both my sons will become actors. I will launch the elder one first. All of us (brothers Sunny, Bobby and Abhay) were launched by our in-house company so they will also be launched in a home production.
Your relationship with your dad Dharamji has always been in the traditional mould — an amalgamation of love and respect. Is your relationship with your sons the same or are you friends with them?
We love the way we relate to each other in our family. A father, a mother, a friend and a sister — these relationships stand for something. So a father always has to be a father. After all, a child needs to fear somebody. How else will he or she be disciplined? I want to ask those who talk about fathers being pals — how can a father be a friend?
So are you a strict father?
You will have to ask that to my sons. I am close to both my kids; but I have instilled a sense of discipline in them. My father (Dharmendra) was not strict but he was firm. I owe what I am today to him and my mother.
Have you hung up your dancing shoes now?
I am a shy guy so I find it uncomfortable to dance. But I dance when my role demands it.
But have you ever danced at baaraats, for instance?
What do you do for leisure, when you are not shooting?
I don’t drink or smoke. I am into sports, I love music and I love making films. I enjoy hiking, mountaineering and driving.
Are you friends with any actor in the industry?
The actors in the film industry are my colleagues, we are friends only to a point. Everybody is working. Friendship happens in school; thereafter the world is materialistic.
How does it feel to be 56?
For me, it’s just a number; finally what matters is how you feel. Birthdays are more interesting when you are a child.