While most actors start their own productions companies to ‘make the kind of films they want to’, when Abhay Deol started toying with the idea, his reason was simple. “I realised very early on that it’s not enough to just make a film. You have to create awareness about the film. An off-beat film has to be packaged like one. You can’t sell it like a mainstream film because you might get some crowds in, but they will walk out of the theatre abusing you. So, I decided to produce. I want to see what the difficulties are in getting a film to the audience,” says the 37-year-old.
Quirky romcom One By Two that hit theatres this Friday ran into problems with music giant T-Series weeks before the film’s release. “Well, they were supposed to release our music. There were some disagreements about royalty which is why our music wasn’t being launched. Imagine 10 days before our film was to release the music still wasn’t in markets. It was affecting our promotions.” The music was launched earlier this week by Crecendo and Unisys.
Directed by debutant director Devika Bhagat, One By Two was initially supposed to be only produced by Abhay. But when the actor read the script, he decided to play the lead as well. “See, I always wanted to work with her. We are on the same wavelength. She engaged me when she was writing the script. What intrigued me about this script was developing a relationship between strangers who shape each other’s destinies.” Known for intense and dark films, One By Two takes Abhay back to a happy space that he experienced in films like Socha Na Tha and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara.
He admits that acting in a light-hearted film is a lot easier for him to make than a Shanghai or Dev.D. “When I am making a heavy-duty drama, I tend to be withdrawn; it helps me focus. On the sets of films like One By Two, I am faffing around all the time. Whether it was Socha or Zindagi, I’d keep jumping around like a kid in a candy store. But when I am doing something serious, I am less talkative and sit alone because if you get into a light-hearted headspace, it’s tough to go back to being serious.”
Abhay’s criteria for picking a film to produce are different from what he looks for in a script as an actor. “I am more flexible as a producer. Tomorrow if I get a chance to make a film with Shah Rukh Khan, why not? Or with Salman. I probably will not be able to act in a role that’s tailor-made for either of them, but there is nothing stopping me from producing it. I’ll get to associate with a movie that I could never act in. At the same time, I will continue to make films that are in my space. Again, it’s not necessary that I act in all my films. I would like to sign on other actors. I might be jealous, but it would be an opportunity for me to engage with other talent. The whole idea to produce is not just to protect my films but also to collaborate in new and existing talent.”
One by Two stars Abhay’s real-life girlfriend Preeti Desai opposite him. The couple have been together for almost four years. While most actors jump at the idea of working with someone they know, Abhay says it’s tough for him. “There are those who find it easy to work with people they are involved with. I find it difficult. I don’t know how to stop being a boyfriend and switch on the co-star mode. It’s easier to take on a character when you are working with
someone who doesn’t know you at all. How do you take on another persona when you are around someone who knows you really, really well? To me it just feels very fake.”
So, what is Preeti like as a co-star? “She is very hardworking and earnest. I wouldn’t comment on her acting skills because I am biased,” he says, flashing his famous dimples.