With two releases and a clean lean look, Bobby Deol is the comeback story of 2018


By Karishma Upadhyay
  • Published 7.09.18

His long curly locks and dimpled smile made the hearts of a whole generation beat faster in the ’90s. Remember Bobby Deol’s mirrored round sunglasses and his swag in Duniya Haseeno Ka Mela? Hits like Gupt and Soldier helped the actor build a career independent of his father Dharmendra or elder brother Sunny. Films like Ajnabee, Humraaz and Dostana kept him in the game in the 2000s but there were more failures like Ek: The Power of One, Thank You, Help and Chamku.

2018 is being touted as the year of Bobby Deol’s comeback. The 49-year-old has had two releases this year — Race 3 and the third instalment in the Yamla Pagla Deewana series, Yamla Pagla Deewana Phir Se. On the sidelines of the promotions of YPD Phir Se, Bobby sat down with t2 to chat about his comeback, his new sex symbol status and working with his father.  

How is the year of your comeback treating you?

Well, I’ve just been humbled and overwhelmed by the reactions, and happy that people have always wanted to see me on screen. Finally, I got a chance and I made them happy with my work and the way I look, and wherever I go now I get a lot of positivity. I believe that you have to be positive about yourself, to get the same reaction from people. I’ve worked really hard and I’m enjoying this phase — enjoying being in the gym, looking good, looking at myself in the mirror and getting excited about it. (Laughs)

You don’t realise how good or bad you look, you always think you look fine. And since I started getting fitter and joined Instagram, a lot of fans began posting old pictures of mine there and I realised what I’d done to myself. And they still thought I looked nice, so I’m just happy and excited to be working and busy and looking forward to every day.

When you’re happy, everyone in your family is happy — I see that energy around me. With my kids, we’re laughing way more than we used to, so it’s great.

Sunny told t2 that you’ve finally started taking things more seriously. Do you remember if it was a moment or an incident that brought about the change?

I just realised one day, that I’m sitting at home every day and doing nothing, and started noticing my family around me... their expressions, the way they look at me. And I could see it in their eyes that they’re trying to make me happy, but they can see that I’m sad and doing nothing about it. Because I live in a joint family and have all that support around me, I believed I’d get that support again when I stand on my own feet, but for that to happen one has to work hard and do it oneself.

Once I realised that, I started taking care of myself, started eating right. I started following the Keto diet. That started changing me and I began preparing myself. I couldn’t just sit and expect work. I had to prepare myself, attract people and make them want to work with me.

While this was happening, YPD Phir Se started and I was encouraged because I was looking so much fresher in the rushes. And next thing I knew, Salman (Khan) called asking if I’d take my shirt off. (Laughs) And I said, “Yeah, I’d do anything” and he asked me to meet him the next day. That pushed me even more because he saw that fire in me. About two years ago, Salman had met me at a party and asked what I was doing to myself. And, at that point, nothing came out of that conversation, probably because I wasn’t ready.

This time he saw that passion in me and pushed me. My parents and brothers are seeing that same fire. Because we’re living in the same house, we can’t always be honest and say to each other’s faces that this is what you’re doing wrong in your life, because we don’t want anyone to feel bad. So, getting that encouragement from outside helped and I had anyway made up my mind that I had to grab things for myself.

Bobby Deol in his pre-gym days

Were you open to asking people for work?

When I started my career, people would come to me with work. That’s also when the pattern changed with a lot of actors coming into the industry. Competition was increasing and nobody was waiting around; they would go to directors and producers’ offices and grab work. I missed out on that and was ignorant.

So, two-three years ago, I started meeting people, going to people’s offices. I met Sajid (Nadiadwala), Akshay (Kumar), Karan (Johar) and so many others.

They all said they’d look into it, but how could they give me anything till I looked right? So, finally when I decided, I made sure that everyone knew that I wanted to work. Finally things have started to fall in place —Sajid offered me Housefull 4. So, you have to go out there and get work.

Have you got a sense of what went wrong with your career?

People kept asking me what had happened, why I disappeared and why there was disinterest on my work. People thought I was lazy, but I just had a very chilled-out attitude. You always have to show that energy that you’re there, which I had but I didn’t think I had to show it. But I guess you just have to be seen and heard, and be involved with everyone around. 

Do you have any advice for fellow actors who may be going through a lull in their careers?

The only advice I can give is, stop beating yourself up and cursing the world around you because this world is not your friend. You have to make the world want you, and for that you have to be strong and take every day as a new day. There’ll always be downs, but enjoy the ups and work harder.

The Deols: Sunny, Dharmendra and Bobby

This is pretty much the best you’ve ever looked.

I know. I get that everywhere, from everyone. And I’m happy. It makes me feel that people are appreciating my hard work. It really makes me want to work harder; I’m not going to grow younger. It’s just so nice to see the look in people’s eyes — they don’t have to say a word, it’s just the way they look at me that makes all the hours I spend in the gym worth it. 

Is the wife appreciative?

She (Tanya) is the reason why I worked so hard. She’s the one who kept asking me, “What are you doing to yourself? Look at yourself.” And when I would ask her what’s wrong with me, she’d point out other actors and tell me they’re still getting work. I just didn’t realise how I wasn’t taking care of myself and she was the first one to notice these things. Obviously, your wife is the only person in your life who can tell you the honest truth; even your mother might feel a little hesitant because she doesn’t want to hurt your feelings. My wife is the pillar in my life, my strength.

YPD Phir Se is the third film where you’ve worked with your father. His character in the film is like a friend, where you’re hitting him and joking around. Has that become easier to do?

It has, actually. Every father wants his son to talk to him in a friendly way but obviously, you have to stop yourself somewhere out of respect. But here in the movie, I was getting a chance to play a character with him and was enjoying the fact that I could say whatever I wanted. When you’re an actor, you can’t think of your co-actor as your father and be worried about talking to him in that manner. And my dad is amazing at improvising; he’s just the most amazing actor I’ve worked with. He comes up with things that suddenly shock you, and working with him makes you more aware, and you start responding. 

Tell us one thing about your dad and brother that people don’t know.

I think everyone knows everything about us. People know we’re very emotional, and there’s nothing hidden, we’re very open people. Maybe we don’t talk about ourselves but when we meet people, we are how we are. There’s no facade or defence mechanism, we just meet people the way we are.

And for no reason people get scared of my brother. He’s such a softy and caring, giving person. My dad’s the same; he’s been in this industry for so many years and it’s the way he’s always interacted with people. People love the fact that they can just go and meet him and he takes them into his arms, he knows how to make them comfortable — that’s my dad.

Who is the funniest among the three of you?

Dad… he is the best at everything.

What do you find inspiring about Bobby Deol’s turnaround?

Tell t2@abp.in