Deepak Dobriyal says whatever he has done in Bollywood has just been an audition, and his best is yet to come. The ace actor, who has delivered memorable performances in films like Omkara, Shaurya, Gulaal, Tanu Weds Manu and Hindi Medium, has ventured into a new territory – Marathi cinema, with his latest film Baba.
Excited about his Marathi debut, Dobriyal had a candid chat with indianexpress.com about regional cinema and his Bollywood journey so far.
Here are excerpts from the conversation:
Q. You made your Marathi debut with Baba. Tell us more about the film.
It is a father-son story and I play a deaf and mute character. Nandita and I are parents but the child is not deaf and mute like us. However, we don’t know that because we don’t act like a regular couple, hence even the child is never able to learn his speech due to our disability. We get to know only when another couple claims that he is their child. That’s where the story starts. So the story is about the struggle and journey of that man to keep the custody of that child.
It is an emotional story with a lot of layering. It will make you cry. It was a challenging role and I had to ensure that mute and deaf community are represented well and with dignity. My performance should not come as a joke or parody.
Q. How do you see Marathi film industry’s performance?
The Marathi film industry is booming and so many amazing and creative directors are coming out with movies like Sairat, Court etc. They have attracted audiences and actors towards them. They are making films on unique subjects, otherwise movies in Bollywood are being made on the same tried and tested concepts. So the experimental nature of Marathi cinema and the confidence these filmmaker have, influenced me to agree for this movie. As an actor I got an opportunity to explore a lot in this movie.
Q. Does that mean regional cinema gives more creative liberty?
Yes! I also got an opportunity to explore many things with this role. How deaf and mute people live their lives. What they think, what they feel and what is their lifestyle, I got to understand that. We then took another challenge that we will use no sign language and actors have to interact without making a sound. So we have not used any sign language in the film, neither have we used any sound. The most important thing is that even though it is a Marathi film, around 60 percent of the movie has silence that speaks the most. And that makes it a universal movie.
I feel that whatever work I have done in Bollywood till now were just auditions and Baba is my first film!
Q. You have played varied roles. Do you think Bollywood has done justice to your talent? Do you feel typecast?
I would agree on that. Also there were some roles where I did try and experiment but those movies were never released. Sometimes you feel that you are doing mediocre work, but that gets appreciated a lot. So that becomes confusing. But when you think about it, you realise what you really want to do. It is good to do commercial films and make some money, but earning respect as an actor is the most important thing.
Another reason for getting typecast is that Mumbai is an expensive city and to maintain a life here and pay your bills, you have to repeat doing certain roles which you might have done before.
Q. When people remember your supporting characters like Pappi, Rajoh and Shyam, how do you take it?
I see myself as the lead. That’s the thing. Even if the role is for 10 minutes, I feel the character has another 90 minutes worth of story behind that people have not seen. That’s how I behave. This attitude also helps in preparing for lead roles, like the one I have done now (Baba).
Q. If you had made your film debut now, would things have been different?
Absolutely. See, before a bridge is built, there is a waiting period for some people. This is the same thing. What we have done, that has made an impact on upcoming actors. We live in a time where we want to be part of good stories and they (actors) don’t mind even if that means through supporting roles in those stories.
Q. What’s coming next?
I have Angrezi Medium, Kaamyaab and Laal Kaptaan. I have important roles in all three films. In Angrezi Medium, the entire plot has changed this time and I have a new character. It’s very interesting. Irrfan and I became brothers-in-arms in London. We laughed and shared so much about life. He is a fighter and he will return with a bang.