He is unfiltered, unapologetic, never shies away from putting forth his opinions and steers clear of the privilege that the 'Deol' tag offers him, particularly in his career.
We are talking about none other than Abhay Deol here, the man who took his sweet time to carve a niche for himself in the industry, solely on his acting prowess.
While most actors were busy ensuring their box office scores kept soaring, we had Abhay on the other side, churning out meaningful stories with his power-packed performances. He is surely among the rare breed of sorted actors we have in the industry right now. Be it 'Dev D' or 'Aisha' or 'Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara', Abhay has never failed to impress us with his brilliance in his craft.
If you have been missing watching him on the big screen, we have some good news for you.
Abhay is coming back with his Netflix series 'Chopsticks' and a film titled 'Jungle Cry'. If you go by the trailers, you would have gotten an idea by now that something great is in store for you.
Before you see him on the big screen and on your laptop screens, MensXP got you the unfiltered version of Abhay Deol, as we got a chance to interact with him and talk about some rather controversial issues.
When we asked him if he has come to terms with the idea of his persona in the industry, which is known for being someone with rather strong opinions, Abhay said, "not sure what there is to come to terms with. Isn't that a good thing? As long as you don't force your opinions on others and are open to new ideas, there's no problem."
If you have seen any of Abhay's films, you would know that he is known more for his choices of offbeat cinema. As a movie buff, I wanted to know what does he see in a script before giving a final nod to it. "Relatability, originality, context. I'm attracted to stories and characters that I can relate to, I look for originality even if it is a genre that has been done many times, and context, by which I mean where is it placed, how does it relate to that place, what is it saying about that place and why."
Abhay started way too early when we talk about content-based cinema. Now, Bollywood is completely changing and content has now become the king.
We have unconventional heroes like Rajkummar Rao, Vicky Kaushal and Ayushmann Khurrana taking the lead. The actor is proud of the change in the industry and said, "I think it's great! Technology has played a disruptive role all across the world and I was waiting for it to happen in our industry. When I was making non-conformist films, they got a release because coincidently the multiplex boom was happening. That came to an end, as there could only be a finite number of cinema halls we could have. With the digital era, that space is now limitless! The change in audience tastes has also happened because the generation that is going to the cinemas now was too young to be consumers when I was pushing hard for change. They've grown up exposed to world cinema/shows from a very young age and that explains their rejection of the old guard of Bollywood lately, and their embrace of more relatable actors, characters, and stories."View this post on Instagram
A post shared by Abhay Deol (@abhaydeol) on Dec 4, 2018 at 1:47am PST
Abhay shocked everyone when he took on the who's who of Bollywood and slammed them for promoting racism through their fairness cream endorsements.
Talking about endorsements, it has become a clear shot formula for actors to be in the scene, even if they don't really stand by the product. I asked Abhay if he thinks that the concept of celebs endorsing such products blindly, should completely disappear from the scene.
"Yes, I think celebs should not endorse brands that go against their principles. For example, if celebs who endorse fairness creams actually believe that fairer is better than darker, then that's fine. The thing is if they actually believed that, then they should find themselves to be inferior to fairer people as they themselves are dark in real life. And no matter how fair you are, as an Indian, you will always be dark in the context of the world. Then there are brands that pollute not just the body but also the environment, like all colas. On one level, all products are destructive to a degree, some more than others and I tend to side with the ones that cause the least damage because, after all, endorsements have become integral to an actor's career. Even the media plays its part, as endorsements are (often) their only source of revenue. We need to call out all players, not just the celebs to be 'fair'." Abhay said loud and clear.
Abhay has always been very transparent in his approach to everything that he strongly believes in. Has it ever happened that he was rejected because of his transparency? Turns out, "many times." Well, that's how it works for people who are very blunt and transparent.
So, what's next for him, "My next release is 'Chopsticks' which is the first Netflix Original film out of India. It goes live on its platform on the 31st of May," said Abhay. Are you excited for this one?View this post on Instagram
A stolen car sends a frantic Nirma to an Artist to take on a goat-loving gangster. Chopsticks premieres on 31 May, only on Netflix. @mipalkarofficial I LOVE your expression in this one ð! @netflix_in @viniyardfilms
A post shared by Abhay Deol (@abhaydeol) on May 14, 2019 at 9:35pm PDT
If you think Abhay's journey has been a bed of roses because of the Deol tag, then you are wrong. His journey has been turbulent and he has had his own set of struggles. But what's more important is that he actually learnt from the things that held him from growing even more.
"Everyone goes through struggles, successes, and failures. It's part of life and I'm glad I've got to experience both, the highs and the lows. You cannot appreciate the highs unless you have gone through the lows. As I said, everyone goes through highs and lows but not everyone learns to appreciate both, as many people do not like the lows. This is why there's a whole industry selling you a pill for your 'depression' or 'sadness'. I am aware that I've to lead a privileged existence and I am grateful for it. I've done exactly what I've wanted to, lived my life authentically and there are not many people who can say that."View this post on Instagram
A post shared by Abhay Deol (@abhaydeol) on Jun 15, 2018 at 7:08am PDT
The Deol tag eventually got me asking him about Nepotism that became a huge deal a while back. For the uninitiated, Nepotism is 'the practice among those with power or influence of favouring relatives or friends, especially by giving them jobs'.
I asked him if he relates to the word and does he think having relatives in the industry helps the person grow, or does one have to constantly prove their caliber? To which Abhay had a rather strong response, "It's both a privilege and a curse. If you look at the current crop of actors, 99% of them are from a film family, the 1% left over are proteges of those with influence. It's unfair to point to Bollywood alone and call out its nepotism. Don't you see it in politics and big business as well? Most people would not like to hear this, but nepotism is part of Indian culture. Where do you think cast, 'Jati' comes from? The son is born into a community and carries forward the work of his father while the women get married and become housewives. Most of the country still operates under this Brahmanical system, the very thing both Gautam Buddha and Mahavira rebelled against. So, if you want to criticize Bollywood for its nepotism, look at your own family and ask the question, 'am I willing to marry outside my cast?' or 'am I running my father's business?' or 'will I let my maid or driver sit at the dinner table with me and eat with me?' Because all of these questions, believe it or not, are linked to our unique brand of Nepotism."View this post on Instagram
A post shared by Abhay Deol (@abhaydeol) on Aug 10, 2018 at 11:32pm PDT
Well, that's quite an honest and a strong take on Nepotism. Why only blame Bollywood if it starts from your own home?