Both Amitabh Bachchan and Salman Khan have been tweeting praises ever since the Yamla Pagla Deewana 2 (releasing June 7) promo came out earlier this week...
Amit has always been very supportive… Salman is like my son. I don’t know how to use Twitter, but lagta hai mujhe ab seekh lena chahiye (laughs). I should learn to use it while I am still young (smiles). But now, films have become show-off business. We Deols are learning, but there are many tricks of the trade which we cannot do. Bahut saare pangey hain jo humse nahin hogi.
Your character of a con man seems even more fun than the first film...
Bahut chaalu log hain, main aur Bobby. Aur iss film mein hum Sunny ko bhi nahin chhodte! (Laughs) You see the movie, you will love it.... I loved the orang-utan in the film. Initially, I was wary of handling him but later he became my friend… usko daaru pila di thi toh dost ban gaya! (Laughs)
Acting with your sons must be very special…
I feel we should keep doing it. Whenever the camera is on, we forget we are father and sons. Honestly, I have bonded with my sons better after acting in these three films (Apne and the two Yamla Pagla Deewana films). We will do Cheers (with YPD 2 director Sangeeth Sivan) after this.
Off-screen, what kind of a relationship do you share with them?
Friendly hai… but my sons are introverts. They are also very emotional. Because they don’t mix easily, people misunderstand them. Bobby mein tab bhi ek boyish charm hai jo kaam kar jaata hai (smiles).
You have always said how nostalgic you get coming back to Calcutta...
I shot in Calcutta first for Mamta (1966) with Suchitra Sen. To me, she has always been a world-class actress. To work opposite her was something big. We got very friendly from the first day of the shoot. I tried to get in touch with her later, but that didn’t happen. I respect her need for privacy. My admiration for her will remain in my heart. I have kept her pictures in my home.
Coming back to YPD 2, you’ve now taken the sequel plunge. But how do you feel when you see your own films going the remake route?
Har film Sholay nahin ho sakti. Sholay sabke mann mein bas chuki hai. Now I am hearing that they will release it in 3D. I don’t think I can watch it because I can’t wear those glasses! No one can make Chupke Chupke again. But I am interested in replaying some characters from my earlier films… like the police officer I played in Pratiggya. Even Raka from Seeta Aur Geeta will be fun to play again. Lekin, mujhe dance se bahut darr lagta hai! (Laughs)
Moving on to daughter Esha...
I am very happy she’s settled. I have got a good son-in-law (Bharat Takhtani). People keep asking me even now whether I plan to do a film with her, but I am happy she’s not acting anymore because I never wanted her to become an actress. No self-respecting father wants his daughter to wear skimpy clothes and dance around…. The very small percentage who do are greedy for fame and money. I am relieved she’s out of this.
You have always said that you can’t sell your films. Are you learning to do it now?
I haven’t mastered it but I am getting there! See, it is very difficult to make me do something if I don’t understand what I am doing and why I am doing it. In today’s times, I have finally realised that one’s work doesn’t stop at just acting; it’s what you do after that to make people aware of your film and your hard work that also matters. But even when I am marketing a film, I try and move away from the norm and make it as creative as I can. As it is, I don’t understand too much of these marketing gimmicks… this (Rs) 100-crore club thing is one. People’s films don’t even reach that number, but they insist that they have 100-crore films… 200-crore films.
Even at your peak, you were never part of the rat race…
Our family has always been like that. Even when my dad was at the top, he never screamed out: ‘I am number one!’ Numbers are such an idiotic thing… the race is always won by people who can manipulate and we Deols cannot and, more importantly, will not ever do it. I would rather be loved by people in the way my dad is… I want to be in their hearts because of my work. And that doesn’t come with numbers or crores or with being on Twitter or Facebook.
It must be special, sharing screen space with your father and brother again...
I love the fact that people love to see the three of us together and we intend to carry on with it as long as the audience wants it. It’s fun to play our characters because in real life, we wouldn’t dream of behaving like that with each other! (Laughs)
Another Deol joined you this time on set, your son Karan as assistant director…
It was good for us, but I don’t know how he felt with the three of us around him 24x7! But he’s a good boy (smiles)… he’s worked really hard on this film from morning till night. We are looking to launch him soon, but we have to get the right script. He’s done a few filmmaking courses, but he has to find his feet first. I want him to discover his passion for acting…. With the youngsters today, acting is only about looking good, getting dance lessons, having a six-pack… where is the passion? Today, actors are models, comperes, dancers… they are anything but actors!
Does Karan seek your advice about films?
He keeps talking to me all the time about what he wants to do. I do advise him off and on, but I am a great believer in the fact that to grow, one has to learn from one’s mistakes. I want him to be a man who has the guts to walk a certain path and learn from his successes and failures.
The general idea is that star kids have it relatively easier. You are one yourself…
Easy, hard…easy, hard… we can keep debating about it (smiles), but you are only as good as your last film. At the end of the day, star kid or not, you have to make your own mark. We had Papa, but Bobby and I had to prove ourselves right from our first films. I came in at a time when so many big actors were ruling Bollywood, but I made it on my own steam and so did my brother. And let me tell you, that’s what has made us the men we are today.
JAT WITH A BONG CONNECTION
I remember coming with my dad to Calcutta when I was a kid and pigging out on fish curry! And obviously, I love the mithais here. People think I am a foodie, but my only gastronomic indulgence has been Bengali sweets… I love the gur sandesh. My best friend is a guy called Tapas whose nickname is Boltu and he makes sure that he gets me sweets from here. I also love your fish preparation with mustard… it’s, I feel, one of the greatest culinary inventions!
YPD TWICE OVER
Our sequel actually takes the story forward. It’s the same three characters… three thugs but they have been put in different situations. We’ve made fun of a lot of people in the film, but it’s been done with the right spirit. I feel it is going to do better business than the first film, purely because of how kids are reacting to the promo. They are loving it, especially the orang-utan in the film!
DEOLS THRICE OVER
I wish we had good scripts earlier so that we could have made even more films together. It’s so much fun to be with my dad and brother on set because I can just relax and be myself.
Sunny bhaiyya and I are alike… we just get too tongue-tied. When I go on stage to promote my film, there are so many things that I want to say, but the words don’t come easily. Dad, however, does much better. He has a way with words and he speaks from the heart.
Because I hate talking about myself, so far I have shrugged off people’s advice to be on Twitter. But it’s a pressure that I may give in to soon. It’s something that I have seriously given a thought to, but haven’t seriously got down to doing it!
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Pictures: Rashbehari Das