As Animal takes BO by storm, Bobby Deol on finding ‘role of a lifetime’ in the brief part and viewing his violent, blood-thirsty antagonist as a hero
Bobby Deol believes that each step in the past few years, from Class of 83 (2020) to Aashram, as he slowly revived his career has led him to this point. To Animal. In the three days since its release, the Ranbir Kapoor-led film has polarised audiences and sparked debates. At the same time, it has enjoyed a huge opening, and won Deol praise for his performance as the revenge-obsessed mute gangster. “I feel like I am dreaming,” he begins.
For the acclaim coming his way, Deol has only one person to thank—director Sandeep Reddy Vanga. Had he expected that Animal would take the box office by storm? In a way, he did. “From the time I met Sandeep and when I shot for it, I had a strong gut feeling that this film will be special. When the numbers came out, it felt [surreal]. Sandeep Reddy Vanga is a one-of-a-kind director. From designing that machine gun, to the chain I wear in the film, it’s all him.”
Sandeep Reddy Vanga
Some actors might think twice before playing such a blood-thirsty man. The role, with its gore and violence, may make one wonder, ‘Is it too much?’ But such thoughts didn’t bother Deol. “I never had any apprehension about the character being violent or dark because I knew who this person was. My character in his childhood loses his grandfather, who sets himself on fire. He chooses a darker path because of what happened with his family, he wants to avenge his grandfather’s death. We see so many films where the hero takes revenge from the villain. So, I never thought he was a villain. I always thought he was the hero of his family.”
One of the most talked about aspects of Animal is the chemistry between Bobby and Ranbir, who play nemesis. The actor is not surprised, after all, he reveals Sandeep envisioned their relationship as a love story. "In my first meeting with Sandeep, he explained to me the whole story of my character. He had said, 'I am going to depict your and Ranbir's relationship as a love story. And I am going to play a romantic, emotional song during the fight scene between you and him.' He had planned it before, and the song he selected was so amazing. It was amazing how he had conceived the whole thing already. You will see many bare body fight scenes between two people on screen, but the kind of animalistic, manly feel there is in this scene is rare. I love when people say there's romantic chemistry between us. I love him as an actor first of all. I am a big fan of him and Alia. I feel so lucky that I got a chance to work with Ranbir and got to know him. He is just amazing,” he says, adding that he believes Ranbir is deserving of every bit of success that Animal is earning.
“Ranbir deserves every bit of this because he is such a lovely person. He can be a big star but as a human being, he is even bigger. He has no arrogance. He is just all heart. I think it brought out the chemistry between us because we play cousins. We also look quite similar in our moments together,” he smiles.
Many parts of the movie have been criticised—from its gore to its treatment of the female characters, who are shown mostly suffering at the hands of its alpha men. What’s his take? “People take things personally sometimes. We’ve been brought up in a beautiful culture, but there are people who treat women badly. The women, when they see that on screen, can identify with it. Films are a reflection of our society. It’s exaggerated in cinema. People feel they are being told a story in an entertaining way. Box-office [figures] show people have accepted this film,” he says.
Another complaint that many have is that Deol, whose presence was drummed up in the trailer, barely has a 15-minute role in the action fare. The actor says, “I’ve heard people say, ‘We wanted to watch more of you.’ I had 15 days with a great director. I knew this was a role of a lifetime. I knew even if it was 15 minutes, my role would make an impact, if I do it right. And it has!” As the makers tease a sequel, Deol’s fans are hoping for a standalone film on him. He echoes their sentiment, saying, “I wish Sandeep makes a film based on my character.”