Bobby Deol, who used to be a force to reckon with a decade ago, went into oblivion all of a sudden, leaving his fans in sheer despair. However, he couldn’t stay away from fans and films for long and made a stylish comeback with ‘Race 3’ (2018) where critics applauded his performance, though the film was panned unanimously. The Soldier (1998) actor will now be seen in Yamla Pagla Deewana: Phir Se, which is a sequel to Yamla Pagla Deewana (2011) and also stars his father Dharmendra and brother Sunny Deol. Just before the release of the film, our Mumbai correspondent, Mohnish Singh, sat down with Bobby Deol and talked about his new offering, relationship with brother Sunny Deol, and much more. Excerpt…
Tell us something about your new movie, Yamla Pagla Deewana: Phir Se?
The film has been fun. It’s been directed by Navaniat Singh. It’s his first time directing a Hindi film. Previously he has worked only on Punjabi movies. His father used to be a cinematographer by the name of Harmeet Singh. I worked with him on Badal (2000). We have Kriti Kharbanda in the movie. There is a cameo by Shatrughan Sinha which you all will enjoy because the chemistry between him and my dad is really nice, and then Salmaan Khan did us a favour by doing a cameo in it. He’s a sweetheart. He is the one who brought Rekha Ji, Sonakshi Sinha and Shatru Ji into the song.
What is your character like?
My character is Deewana. The movie is slightly different from the previous two instalments. There are different actors, a different story, but there is always one Yamla, one Pagla and one Deewana. It’s always going to be like that, I mean somehow somewhere we all are Yamla, we all are Pagla, we all are Deewana. It’s based again in Punjab. My character is from a family of practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine, though I don’t know anything about medicines. My character wants to go to Canada, all Punjabis want to go to Canada. So, he is fed up and wants his brother to sell this medicine which cures a lot of ailments and how this is always an issue about this in the house.
How was it working with Rekha?
It was fun working and sharing the screen with Rekha Ji. I have seen all of them as a kid. She is such an amazing actor, she always nice and warm. I have seen her since I was so young.
How has your relationship with your brother Sunny Deol changed over the years?
Well, my brother was always like a father to me. I respect him and love him a lot, that’s the kind of relationship we share. No brother does so much for his younger brother as he has done for me. So, for him, he has got three sons. He is very big-hearted and giving person.
How much hard work you had to put to get into shape for Race 3?
Because I realized I have to work hard. That was the biggest opportunity with Salman Khan and millions and millions of people watching. If I had done wrong and not worked well in that film, there would be people who would be disappointed with me. Salman gave me that opportunity. He always says that I needed you for the film but I realize that he gave it to me. He tells me not to think like that. He says he needed me for the film and that’s why I took you. Even there he doesn’t want to take credit. That’s the kind of person Salman is.
How have things changed post Race 3?
There is a lot of positivity around right now. Everywhere I go, everyone I meet, on everybody’s faces, there is happiness for me. Everybody is happy and that shows the appreciation I am getting and all of you are happy for me. Now, I just want to work harder so these faces remain the same.
Do you think success changes the dynamic of relationships in Bollywood?
I have always felt that my fans always wanted to see me on the screen, so it’s just I had to put the right effort to look good and people wanting to see me on the screen. That’s what it is. It’s not about the success that people would look at you differently, if people appreciate you for your work then success is secondary. Success will always come and go but appreciation is what keeps you going.
How different do you personally feel about yourself now?
I feel very energetic, very positive. I don’t feel sad as often as I used to, and try to enjoy every moment of my day because it’s precious. I appreciate everything I have got back again in my life and my career and the thought of losing it keeps me motivated because I don’t want to lose it. I just hope that I choose and make the right decision.
What kind of script are you accepting now?
It’s nothing like that. Right now I only have Housefull 4 as a future project. There have been scripts that came in between but they were not satisfying enough. I am looking for a good character to play, a character which has some substance to it. It can be multi-starrer or a three hero, two hero film. I am not trying to see if I have the male lead or not, male lead will come to me one day once my box-office position becomes better. So, I just want people to appreciate my work and I hope I do work that I enjoy and what people enjoy watching me in.
Do you think just being talented is not enough anymore to be successful in this field?
I just believe that you have got to be honest and straight about what you do and believe. You have to be hardworking and focused and you will achieve what you need to. I can’t be cunning, I can’t be manipulative, I can’t change myself, I cannot do that. I don’t know. Sometimes I wonder is it necessary? There are some people who know so well to market themselves, they know how o do that but that is also a talent.
You gave such wonderful films in the first beginning of your career and suddenly something went wrong. What had happened?
In the starting, I chose the films I wanted to do but later I didn’t choose them myself. It was then things started to take a wrong turn. You don’t know why or how this happens and suddenly things start falling the wrong way if you are not tough enough you start losing the grip on your career and that’s what happened to me. Following the wrong script then getting disheartened by it and not taking care of myself. People thought that I lost interest in acting but I never lost interest, I was just a little ignorant about how I am supposed to work, how to be professional.
How welcoming was the cast of Housefull 4?
I know all of them, so for me, it was fun. They have a chemistry of their own, they are so much in synch with one other, so for me to get in synch with them was taking a little time because they would laugh about things and I didn’t know what it was about. They had their internal jokes (laughs).
How excited are you to work with Kriti Kharbanda again in Housefull 4?
Yeah, it was fun because I didn’t know who all were there in the film in the beginning and then I was so happy when I knew she was also going to be a part of the film. It’s really nice because she is a wonderful person to work with, very honest, very dedicated. People are recognizing her work now and appreciating it.
Have you ever considered working behind the camera?
No, I can’t control people. You need a temperament for it. I have just started again as an actor, so let me be an actor for some time.
How different is it working with your family vis-à-vis working with other people?
You know when someone’s mood is off, you know what your brother is thinking, you know what your dad is thinking, you know how he is going to react. You know all these things but when you are working with others you don’t know when they are feeling what they are feeling. In a family, you know each other inside out.