He was missing from the action in Mumbai when his revisionist interpretation of Devdas in Dev D had the nation and its favourite cultural ally in a thrall.
But Abhay Deol currently at home in New York is all set to return to Mumbai this week. Speaking from New York, Abhay says, "I'm coming back in mid-June, so there will be at least two weeks to prepare. I'm also starting my own production company, and have written the next treatment for my script. So my hands are full."
Abhay intends to make the best of his stint in Mumbai before he returns to New York. NYC feels like home for Abhay. "I don't feel like a New Yorker. But I'm definitely enjoying my stay."
Abhay has so far played only central characters in all his films from Imtiaz Ali's Socha Na Tha to Anurag Kashyap's Dev D. If as Abhay says he is happy to take the backseat for a change, then Anil Kapoor's Ayesha is just the movie he has been waiting for.
Doting father that he is, Anil Kapoor is sparing no expenses to make sure darling daughter Sonam gets the most lavish home production possible.
Though Abhay Deol has been signed on to play the male lead, the complete focus of the pre-production activities has been none other than Sonam. "And rightly so," says a source. "It's Sonam's home production. And she has selected everything from the theme (Jane Austen's Emma) to all the clothes (being done by Hollywood's chic designer Mona May). The three male protagonists, Abhay, Cyrus Sahukar and newcomer Arunoday Singh, are incidental. In fact their collective remuneration for the film would be less than what Sonam's elaborate gowns and dresses would cost."
So where does that leave Abhay Deol who is habituated to the helm? Speaking from New York where he's currently stationed Abhay says, "Every film does not have to be from the viewpoint of my character. In fact I'm excited about this film. I'll have a less hectic schedule than Sonam and it will be refreshing to see someone else on the set more often than me."
Doesn't it bother Abhay that Ayesha is an out-and-out Sonam vehicle? "If you say it's a Sonam vehicle, it's natural considering the story's a romantic comedy from the point of view of the girl and I'm playing the main lead actor. My role is the Mr. Knightly character from the literary novel Emma. All those who have read the book will know exactly what kind of a role it is and how well- defined it is."
Abhay's look, he says, "will be on the preppy side. Rich, well- groomed, urban." But when do the male members of the cast get attention?