The first time my eyes met that of Deepak Dobriyal’s on screen was in Maqbool. After a couple of years he hit back with Omkara and that was it. He carried his first Filmfare trophy home and thought, “This is it! My hunger for awards has come to an end”. Well, once again the difference was pretty evident, that between stars and an actor. Then followed the many ‘worthy of a nomination’ roles in the form of Gulaal, Tanu Weds Manu and the recent Not A Love Story. Juggling his life between his latest release and his newly born baby boy Sid, Deepak Dobriyal is living life as it comes. He is a man who remains implacably resistant to rules because he does it his way, his style. He is charming, fascinating, funny, strangely vulnerable and completely original in every way. His wife Lara is busy babysitting but still finds time out to cook some delicious toasted sandwiches for me. Deepak too isn’t far behind when it comes to hospitality. He makes me a nice cuppa ginger tea and one for himself, sits on his low seated wooden chair, takes his nicotine out and lights it, takes a drag and pauses as I see the smoke come out of his mouth that forms into a sentence – ‘talk to me, I’m ready now’. UK’s Harrow Observer columnist and Bollywood Hungama‘s London correspondent takes you into the mind and heart of one of India’s most promising actor where he radiates his passion for cinema, theatre, Marlon Brando, Meryl Streep, The Godfather, Vishal Bhardwaj, Satya, Company, Shiva, RGV and his mother who was instrumental in making him what he is today – an actor par excellence.
“My passion for Bollywood started with my mother taking us to the cinema and seeing her different emotions”
My father’s office was four to five kilometres away from our house in Delhi. We were very small then. My mother was very fond of films and every Friday she used to take us for movies when I used to return from school with my brother. We’ve kept this little secret of ours tight till she passed away in 2007 and now it’s no more a secret. My passion for Bollywood started with my mother taking us to the cinema, her crying while seeing a scene, her laughter, her different emotions, etc.
“I’ve done theatre with Arvind Gaur in Asmita for six years and for a year with Pandit Sharma in Act One”
I used to do theatre in Delhi for seven years. My mother thought that theatre has to do something with Bollywood. I never used to tell her quite as much though. I’ve done theatre with Arvind Gaur in Asmita for six years and for a year with Pandit Sharma in Act One. Theatre and Bollywood are two diverse mediums for me.
“I am one of those people who don’t go to his vanity van after his shot is over. I sit there and observe”
Working on a film is like working together with your family. I am one of those people who don’t go to his vanity van after his shot is over. I sit there and observe. I’ve learnt that from theatre where I used to help in every department – from helping co-stars to lighting to set changing, etc. Theatre is always a group effort and I hope that people put the same effort in making films too. At least I try.
“My favourite play is Final Solutions based on the communal riots”
My favourite play is ‘Final Solutions’ where I enacted the role of Javed. I’ve got a standing ovation wherever I’ve performed. The play is based on communal riots. I’ve also liked ‘The Good Person of Szechwan’ and a play in Hindi titled ‘Tughlaq’.
“I feel that if I had seen The Godfather and done theatre, I may have come out as a better actor”
My all time favourite movie is The Godfather. It’s the Geeta for all actors. I’ve seen it eight to ten times. I just saw the film seven to eight years ago. It’s weird but before watching The Godfather, I used to like cinema such as Desperado that had action, Titanic that had a great love story, Mask that was a laugh riot, etc. Any movie that audiences could whistle to was defined as my grammar for movies till I witnessed The Godfather. I was amazed to know that this was what filmmakers used to think thirty years ago. What marvellous acting! Sometimes I feel that if I had seen The Godfather and done theatre, I may have come out as a better actor. I’d love to play the role of Don Vito Corleone from The Godfather that was essayed by the great Marlon Brando. He is my favourite actor and Meryl Streep is my favourite actress.
“Indian films aren’t getting influenced, they get copied and that’s the problem”
The difference between the West and India as far as movies are concerned is the culture. We get influenced by not only characters but also the infrastructure and other elements from the films made in the West. We don’t have faith in our thoughts and that’s the main problem. To think over our thought is the toughest thing to do. But come to think of it, our Indian society is too complex. To be influenced and to copy are two different things. Indian films aren’t getting influenced, they get copied and that’s the problem because to get influenced is to find your own way. Indian films need to find their own way, it’s time.
“My RGV is Vishal Bhardwaj”
I came to Mumbai because of Ram Gopal Varma. I thought that he would give me a role because the only director in those times who gave preference to talent over stars was RGV. His ‘Factory’ days were the ones every struggling actor, director, editor, etc. recalls even today. I used to give my photographs to RGV’s office but no one used to get back to me. This continued for three years and I gave up. Then Vishal Bhardwaj called me and offered me Omkara. My Ramu is Vishal Bhardwaj. Satya, Company, Shiva are my favourite RGV films. I still recall twenty five hands over me during my school days as there was a stampede buying tickets for Shiva.
Watch this space for Part 2 of interview with Deepak Dobriyal