Deepak Dobriyal is considered a very talented actor but he’s mostly remembered for his comic roles. With Bholaa, however, he stunned the viewers. As Ashwathama aka Ashu, he played an all-out negative character very convincingly. No wonder, he became the highlight of this film, which featured Ajay Devgn not just as the lead director but also as the director. In an exclusive interview with Bollywood Hungama, Deepak Dobriyal spoke about Bholaa, his journey and a lot more.
EXCLUSIVE: Deepak Dobriyal reveals that it was Ajay Devgn who thought of casting him in Bholaa: “Someone told me, ‘Ajay bhai sab se lade aap ko cast karne ke liye’. I was like, ‘Kamaal hai yaar’”
What kind of feedback have you received for your role in Bholaa?
I often remarked before the release that this is a re-launch for me. And I was bang on. Ever since Bholaa was released, I have been on my phone from morning 8:00 am till midnight, replying to messages. I have been flooded with praises and compliments like never before. I am so happy to see the impact that my character has had. Usually, when you do comic roles, you’ll rarely be offered such a well-fleshed-out character, belonging to a different shade. When it comes to negative roles, examples are few and far between of actors who dabbled in this genre from comedy. For a long time, I had the desire to essay a negative character. While doing theatre with Arvind Gaur’s Asmita theatre group, I used to do only serious plays. Main serious actor karke jaana chahta tha. But in Mumbai, survival became difficult and I realized that no one is offering me a serious role. When I was offered comic roles, I was unsure ki mere andar se comedy niklegi ya nahin niklegi. It was never my forte.
In fact, at one point, I got irritated as well by doing comic roles. Of course, I got a lot of love for doing these roles and I am thankful. My Delhi friends, who had seen me do plays, used to be quite shocked and amused seeing more do funny roles. They’d be like, ‘Yeh kya hai, Deepak?’! I got tagged as a comic actor. Every month, I am offered 4-5 comic roles. Most of these characters are written on the same line as my part in Tanu Weds Manu (2011). I decided to not take up such roles. I believe that if I kept doing only comic roles, as an actor, aap khaali ho jaaoge. If you keep doing the same stuff, you won’t even be able to imagine a new layer yourself. Thankfully, with Bholaa, my image of being only a comic actor has busted.
Who recommended your name for Bholaa? Was it the writers, the casting director or Ajay Devgn?
Ajay bhai did. Someone told me, ‘Ajay bhai sab se lade aap ko cast karne ke liye’. I was like, ‘Kamaal hai yaar’! I knew that if Ajay bhai has so much faith in me, fir toh main phail sakta hoon. Aur main film mein phail gaya!
There’s a shot in the ‘Paan Dukaniya’ song where you murder a person while dancing. It was quite unique and memorable…
It became possible thanks to Master ji, that is, choreographer Ganesh Acharya. Also, my character came out so well due to Ajay bhai’s expert direction. There was no item song in the original film (Kaithi; 2019). But here, Ajay bhai added it and he was sure that in the song, he wants to show my maniac side. He and Master ji get the credit for it. Also, look how Ajay bhai has shown my swag in the film. You cannot expect swag from a comic actor. Most filmmakers expect comic timing from a comic actor and that he should look cute and goofy. But in Bholaa, I am happy with the way I have been presented. Aisi acting toh bahut actor kar lenge. Par sabke paas Ajay Devgn nahin hai! (smiles)
Special mention should also go to Anjali Verma, who did my make-up, Radhika Mehra, who designed my costume, Farooq Shaikh, who did my hair and lastly, Aseem Bajaj, our cinematographer. So, it’s teamwork.
Often, when actors are criticized for their performance, they blame their co-actor, script, director etc. When they are praised, they take all the credit! I have clarity and all other actors should also be aware of who all were responsible for their fabulous work in a film. In my case, main 2-3 din hawe mein udta hoon. I enjoy the praise coming in. Fir uske baad aukaat pe aa jaata hoon! And this reality check is very important. You’ll do a grave mistake if you don’t give credit to your team. Agle film mein aap pakde jaaoge.
Your character dies too soon in the film. We wish you had more screen time…
Many people told me the same thing to me. But I have no complaints as I am inundated with love from all quarters. It means everything to me.
You began your career more than 20 years ago with small roles. And then you featured in a plum part in Omkara (2006). This film must have been very important for you in your career…
It ended my struggle! I didn’t had to go for auditions after Omkara. Producer ya director direct bulate the. Before Omkara, I used to tell struggling actors that ‘It’s just a matter of time. Work on your craft. Improve your art daily. Yahan pe koi kisi ka maai-baap nahin hai’. However, no one used to take me seriously then as I was also a struggler. After Omkara, I won a Filmfare and then they took my words seriously. And I would tell them ‘Main pehle bhi yahin baat kar raha tha! Soch badi rakho. Soch choti mat rakho’!
I believe one should concentrate on their personal life as well. The problems you face in your life can act as a hindrance towards your craft. Jab aap yeh issues sort out karte ho, toh aapka craft aur nikhar ke aata hai. So, your real life is the main playground.
Bahut se log tab respect se baat nahin karte the. The casting people and coordinators would address me as ‘yeh patla sa actor hai’ or ‘skinny actor’. But my performance in Omkara silenced them all and they began treating me with dignity.
Now, the scenario is much better. Some very talented and reputed casting directors are there in the industry like Mukesh Chhabra, Vaibhav Vishant, Shanoo Sharma, Tess Joseph etc. They understand the depth of actors and because of them, a lot of artists have progressed
A landmark performance from you was in Tanu Weds Manu. As Pappi, you were terrific and you brought the house down in the sequel, Tanu Weds Manu Returns (2015). In an interview, you mentioned that you rejected the film 4-5 times! Why was that and what made you come on board?
That’s because writer Himanshu Sharma wrote the character very beautifully. Hence, I told Aanand ji (Aanand L Rai), ‘Yeh role koi bhi actor karega, woh lajawab tarike se hi karega’. This was a time when I was busy creating my image. As an actor, you feel that you can also contribute in some way to the role. I remarked, ‘Yeh toh bana banaya role hai’. I assumed that main iss role ke hisaab se bada hoon. But then I realized that Mumbai is an expensive city! Yeh shehar aapki soch ko chota nahin, par jhuka zaroor deta hai. Hence, I took up the film. Also, Aanand ji ne bahut pyaar diya. If he has made up his mind that this particular actor fits a role, he’ll go to any length to get him or her on board. For an actor, this is a motivating factor. Woh actor bhi fir poori jaan laga ke kaam karta hai unki film mein.
Your dialogue in Tanu Weds Manu Returns, ‘You are a good question but your question hurt me’ has become famous today…
(Smiles) Oh yes. The ‘shuddh gareeb’ meme from Hindi Medium (2017) is quite used as well. Woh meme dekh ke bhi bada mazaa aata hai. However, nowadays a lot of writers have started writing dialogues with the idea that ‘yeh dialogue aage chal ke meme banega’.
Do you think it’s a good trend? After all, the makers of Tanu Weds Manu Returns or Hindi Medium never imagined that their dialogues would become memes…
I don’t think writers ko meme ke hisaab se sochna chahiye. Meme banna hoga, toh ban jaayega. Meme ek context se nikalke aata hai. The writers need to focus on concept and content. Public needs a catchy concept. Warna Instagram pe toh kaafi aisa bina concept ka content mil jaayega. One of the reasons why films are not working as much is because the whole world is on Instagram and social media. It has made things tough. But as I said before, if the concept and concept are strong, then nothing can stop it from going viral or becoming meme worthy.
In your career, you have never done a web series…
I have shot for one recently and it’s about to release. It’ll be out on Disney+ Hotstar in May.
Which are your forthcoming films?
I am doing Sector 36, co-starring Vikrant Massey. I am also a part of Manoj Bajpayee’s next. It is directed by Raam Reddy, who made the acclaimed Kannada film Thithi (2015).
Now that you have completed more than 20 years in the industry, what’s your plan for the next 20 years? Do you have a roadmap?
I just want good scripts to come my way. And I want to surprise people. Log soch na sake, uss tarah ke roles karna chahunga. Toh main bolna nahin chahta, karke hi dikhana chahta hoon! I remember after Omkara, I had expressed the desire to do a biopic. It’s been 17 years. Sab ne biopic kar li hai, sivaay mere!
Any plans to turn director or producer?
I want to concentrate on acting. I do wish to direct sometimes though.
Also Read: Ajay Devgn celebrates his birthday by hosting special screening of Bholaa for 100 underprivileged children in Mumbai, see photos
More Pages: Bholaa Box Office Collection , Bholaa Movie Review
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