Abhay Deol: I needed the lows to be where I am today
Abhay Deol, who is heating up Instagram, talks to us about his home production, The Odds, and why he's finally in a happy space
He may be the least flamboyant of all the Deols, but Abhay Deol has a charm that cinemagoers have always loved. Be it as the dysfunctional Dev in Dev D, the straightforward Arjun in Aisha, or the simple and sorted Kabir in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Deol has always brought a genuine quality to the characters he plays. You relate, you believe, you feel for him. These days, as he spends his time between LA, Goa and Mumbai, he is busy working and looking delicious on social media. His home production, The Odds, featured at the closing gala of the Los Angeles Film Festival, and his beach selfies are making everyone wonder, what is Deol up to? He spoke to us from LA. Edited excerpts.
We hear you have been dividing your time between Goa, LA and Mumbai. What relationship do you share with each of these cities?
Mumbai is where my work, friends and family are - it is the city I was born in and will always be where I came from. Goa is my new home, a place for rest and recuperation. LA is also home, as I have family here as well and friends. It is an inspiring place, where I have grown tremendously. Each one has been instrumental in my growth as an individual, they have taught me different lessons in life and continue to do so.
A still from The Odds
Tell us about The Odds.
It is a show about two kids out and about in the city and their time together. It is magic realism, it is surreal, it is unapologetically funny, it is an unexpected surprise to come out of India.
You have around five films that are ready for release. How would you describe the direction your acting career has taken, keeping these projects in mind?
The five projects I currently have couldn't be more different from each other. They are a mix of foreign and Indian productions. JL-50 is a sci-fi Canadian film set in Kolkata about a CBI detective who goes back in time to solve a crime; Line Of Decent is an American drama based on the land mafia in Delhi; The Odds is my own production with FilmKaravan Originals; Jungle Cry is a British production based on a true story about tribal kids from India, who went and won the under-14 rugby championship in the UK in 2007; and Chopsticks is the first Netflix original film to come out of India.
How have you evolved as an actor in the last few years?
I am more satisfied with where and who I am. I see it as a state of being, and I am thankful every day for the privilege of being this way. My acting is a constantly changing process, just like life. I am less affected by negativity and more absorbed by the positivity. I am more forgiving of myself and others and the world is my playground. I don't feel anger as much as I feel compassion.
With the digital revolution, actors like you have the opportunity to do roles that don't fit the mould of the 'hero', not that you ever played to that notion.
Yes, I was doing what the digital platforms are doing right from the start of my career. I have sacrificed instead of compromising. The digital space does not have the physical limits that cinema has. There are no boundaries, no borders, and it will constantly need content to survive.
You went through a trying time personally a few years ago. Haruki Murakami says, "When you come out of the storm, you won't be the same person who walked in." How would you describe the person you are today?
We all go through ups and downs, but I don't stagnate for too long in one place. I am constantly moving. In a country like ours, wrecked with poverty and hunger, it is selfish to complain. I've led a privileged existence, I have a loving family, friends for life, I've taken a stand and done exactly as I've wanted to do in life. I focused on the positives when I was down and slowly, I felt selfish for being there. The beauty of it was that I was immediately catapulted to tremendous highs and I understood that to be high you have to start low. After that, I was thankful for even the lows as I needed them to be where I am today.
Your Instagram game is completely on point, and the hot beach pictures have been making the ladies drool. How does that adulation feel?
Ha, ha, thank you.
Adulation is always welcome. At first, I saw social media as a necessary evil, but like with everything else, I looked for the positives in it. I can connect directly to my audience, clarify a misquote, bring awareness, talk about the things I want to talk about, market myself and those I want to. It's important not to get addicted to it, as the saying goes, you cannot have too much of a good thing. Everything in moderation!
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A walk through Mohammed Ali Road's Khau Galli