A human life is a human life.” With this thought Abhay Deol explains the philosophy behind his series 1962: The War in the Hills currently streaming on Disney+Hotstar. Playing a brave-heart Major Suraj Singh leading handful of his men to take on the enemy, while bravery might be inherently built in his character and the series, jingoism he insists is not.
When the series and he personally take a stance that no war has done good to anyone and that differences can be solved through diplomacy, he feels there would be no space for jingoistic war-cry. As for the creative liberty that the series, based on a real-life incident of 125 Indian Army men fighting 3,000 Chinese soldiers, may have taken, he insists that the question is for the director, Mahesh Manjrekar to answer. Yet he adds, “When you are depicting that the psychological effect of a war is the same on both sides, when you are highlighting not just bravery but also vulnerability, even if you fictionalise a real-life incident, it won’t be far from truth.”
Whether war sagas have come a long way from Haqeeqat and Border, he feels that not just
representation of war themes, Bollywood in general has transformed for the better in most departments. “We have really improved upon our craft.”
Not too long ago, he was one of the few actors ready to take risks, acting in what he calls non-Bollywood films, and almost became the gold standard for quality cinema. On such effusive praise, he says, “I don’t choose parts to set the gold standard. I do what I believe in like 1962 and that sets the standard.” On OTT, just the right medium for him, however, we wonder if he is still looking for the role that would measure up to his immense talent? Well, like always, he would not like to compare himself to others, certainly not his cousin Bobby Deol who is currently making waves on the OTT platforms. “I have never been competitive and have nothing to prove. I always believe what I can do others can’t and vice versa. We all bring value to the project.”
Today, he can only see/sense more opportunities for himself in the unlimited digital space, teeming with endless possibilities where both mainstream and non-formula content find equal representation and marketing push.
As he looks back at his journey dotted with some memorable parts as in Dev D, Shanghai, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and many more, he is grateful for the respect that he has earned. Mostly a critics’ darling, he is open to criticism provided it is constructive and not venomous. Alas, he rues, “Indian media is driven either by biases or agendas.” There were some names he held in high regard, till he saw them indulging in blind items.
However, whatever others may say, his reasons for doing a part remain the same-relatability. The method of acting lies in understanding the graph of his character, the physical changes that it may require and working on diction, accent, etc. Besides, his choices will always be guided by who he is, “I have tried to be really authentic, follow my words with action. I really put myself out there.”
Off camera, however, he admits to being not-so-expressive. While his Dev D co-star Mahie Gill became emotional while reuniting with him in 1962: The War in the Hills, he feels he too could have been more vocal about his excitement to be working again with her. As a rule, he goes the extra mile to make his co-actors comfortable, “We want each other to shine; if we shine, the film or the web series we are doing would.” To know how well, check out 1962: The War in the Hills.