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"You have to be saleable to get the projects you want"

Stepping back into the spotlight after a short break, an excited Bobby Deol talks to Bhakti Mehta about his upcoming film Race 3

You have said that this is what you were waiting for since a long time. How does it feel to be in the limelight again?

It is nice to be wanted by the audience. The response I have got is so touching and their love says that they really want to see me. This has encouraged me to work harder on my career.

Interestingly, even though you did Poster Boys last year, Race 3 is being called your comeback film.

In this industry, everyone has an image. When I did Poster Boys, it was because I loved the script, but I knew that my image was not close to the character that I played. But people appreciated my work. It also encouraged me to do more stylized films because that is what the audience wants. That is what my fans want to see me do on the screen.

So when I got Race 3, I was very happy. My fans were going gaga about it too. Wherever I went, they kept giving me their best wishes and showering me with love for Race 3. And the amount of love that people have for Salman Khan everywhere is crazy. That love is also translated into Race 3. It really makes you feel encouraged and positive about things.

What was it like to share screen space with such a huge cast, both on and off camera?

It was quite a lot of fun. Salman has no ego at all. He is completely selfless. He has no attitude. He is so down to earth. And when a big star like Salman Khan is like that, everyone around him feels relaxed. Then there is Anil (Kapoor), who is always so full of energy. I haven’t seen an actor with so much energy. He just inspires you to work harder. He is so much more senior but with his energy he looks so much younger.

Then there are the girls. Jacqueline (Fernandez) is so focused and Daisy (Shah) is also very determined about her work. And then there is Munna, Saqib (Saleem). Uska pet name maine Munna de diya hai. Basically, his pet name was never Munna but everyone would call him that when we were together on the CCL league. He didn’t correct me. So, now I keep calling him Munna (Laughs). It was great fun working with him too. When I had signed the film, we were doing CCL together. I was trying to keep this a secret but it was soon all over the media that I had joined the Race 3 cast. And when Saqib met me that evening, he was so happy that I was doing the film.

Everyone wanted me to start working. And after a week, I read in the papers that he was part of Race 3 but he had not told me that before. I was so happy. I called him up and said that Munna, I am so happy that we will be working together in the same film. It was great fun. He is quite young and pushed me to work out. We worked out together. He is younger than me so he has more energy, which helped me to push myself. He was also inspired by me, that this guy is my junior and since he is working out so hard, I should work out harder. All the hard work showed results.

This is the first shooting schedule that I have been a part of where everyone is in the gym. Whenever anyone would ask where is so-and-so, the answer would be that they are in the gym (Laughs). In all seriousness, this film had a lot of action and the action required all of us to be very fit. It was an amazing experience being back on the sets.

You said that your fans have been wishing you luck for this film. After the highs and lows you have been through, is there pressure on you to perform and deliver a successful film?

I have never felt any pressure. But yes there is pressure to show them the best I can do. I have worked really hard to give them my best so that I don’t let my fans down. Baaki toh ab dekhenge kaise react karte hain.

As for everything else, I believe that as long as the producers are happy, those who have put in the money are happy, and the artistes are satisfied, it doesn’t matter how many crores a film makes. Because, at the end of the day, what you want is that everyone who is involved with the film get what they want. And I cannot predict how much money a film will make. It is the love for Salman Khan that makes people say that the film will earn this much money. They want his films to do 1,000 crores. That’s how it is. Mamu (Salman Khan) is such a nice person, he deserves it.

We recently spoke to Freddy Daruwala, who plays the baddie in the film, and he said that, given a chance, he would love to play your character. How interesting is your character?

You know how a Race movie is, yaar, I just can’t say anything. All I can say is what you see in the trailer is different from what is in the film. My character is very stylized and something my fans wanted to see me doing for a long time.

And how was your association with the director Remo D’Souza?

He is a sweetheart. He is so quiet that you don’t even realise that he is there. He knows exactly what he wants. It is a very big film for him too. He has done musicals earlier but for him to do an action thriller of this scale is really big. He has really put in a lot of effort.

You have done action films before. What is it like being on an action film set after so long?

I was very excited because I wanted to do an action film for so long but things were not going my way. You have to be saleable to get the kind of projects you want. Things were a little down for me, so I had to get out of that and create a positive vibe around myself. And when I got Race 3, I was very excited.

Action has changed so much in these last few years. The stylization, the way they shoot it and all the VFX that’s come into play, it makes the action even bigger. On the first day of the shoot, I was excited and nervous. I was, like, how would I do it, how will I be able to get it done, everyone would be watching. I have done a lot of action before and this was fun too. There was a shot in Race 3 where while doing an action sequence, I hurt my knee but I didn’t want an injury to stop me. I thought I couldn’t do it initially but I was fine.

What’s next for you? What other genres do you want to get back to?

I want to do nice action films. My fans want me to do action films. I haven’t done an action drama in a long time. My films Bichhoo, Badal and Soldier were all very big hits. I want to do something like that once again. But it’s not just that. Now, I want to get good characters too. I want to be part of films where my characters are interesting. It doesn’t have to be the main lead. I just want to enjoy what I am doing. It is not about nahin yaar main toh main lead hi karoonga. I have been in the industry for 23 years. I have seen ups and downs. I just want to work now. I just want to do films. Every day of my life, I want to be on a film set and do good work.

As we said before, your so-called comeback film releases next week. What is running through your mind right now?

I have a lot of nervous energy in me currently. I am a little overwhelmed with all the appreciation and affection that I am getting already. Wherever I go, there is such a huge support. There is so much positivity. Every film is a new innings for everyone. It is like when you come to bat and get bowled in the first ball. You don’t want that. So you make sure that you do better the next time. You hope you make a century every time. That’s how it is. 

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