The talented actor Deepak Dobriyal has been missing from the big screen for a while. But we’ll get to see a lot of him soon beginning with his forthcoming release- Chor Chor Super Chor. Here’s Deepak Dobriyal himself in conversation with MAM on a lot many things including Chor Chor Super Chor.
Chor Chor Super Chor, sounds like a mad caper. What is the film about?
Yes it is a fun film. A film that also has a very warm heart at its core. It is about this guy who is a chor. He wants to turn over a new leaf so he stops stealing. But the world doesn’t let him, he is forced by circumstances to resume chori, and how he gets into trouble is the story of the film.
How was the experience?
It was heartrendingly satisfying. We worked as a single unit, contributing at every stage, creatively, and collaborating seamlessly to come up with a film that is honest and earnestly made. There have not been any compromises for the sake of making money or any concessions with the vision that we had when we began the film. And so yes, a wonderful film has resulted, and fingers crossed, the audiences will love it to.
You have had a slew of quirky films in the past. Is that a conscious decision?
I prefer to do work that requires me to be involved, that demands involvement from me and the rest of the team is also equally involved and into the whole process.
So what do you look for in a film when you sign on?
I look for content. For intent. The maker should convince me that he or she is meaning to make something earnestly, give his or her best to the project. I give a lot of myself to every role I play, every film I do, and I expect the same from the maker. Blame it on my theatre background but I just cannot be part of a set up where things are being done for the sake of it.
You belong to the world of Theatre and stage, tell us about that experience?
Theatre is all about team work. Everything has to be done by everyone, right from stage sets props to costumes, story, acting, everyone has to chip in in all departments. Theatre as a medium demands a lot from you. Everyone is playing a character, either on or off stage and there is no hierarchy; no one is you know superior or inferior out there. Theatre in that sense is a huge leveller.
Yet, the jump to the silver screen. Why?
Theatre doesn’t pay. Every actor leaves the stage to earn, since theatre doesn’t pay at all. It is very important to make ends meet, something that gets pretty difficult in theatre.
So how much of your theatre past play a role in your cinema present?
The films I do, the scripts I choose, the way I work, my work culture stems from Theatre. Whatever be the film, I am always involved. I come to the sets with a mentality of a theatre artist. I linger on the sets once my job is over, help around, lights, with sound, lighten up the mood at times. I cannot be like those actors who come, give their shots and then vanish into their vanity vans. That is where my theatre past comes in. A collaborative approach to film making is what I bring to the table in every film that I associate with.
How easy or difficult it is for a stage actor to make a mark in Bollywood?
See to make a mark, to establish an identity is dependent on you. I can easily do a slew of big budget commercial films where all I have to do is walk behind the hero as his dutiful friend. The films make crores and I become a known face both in the industry and the audiences. Then there is the other way, where I choose work that gives me satisfaction. The work that I do and look for falls in the latter category.
And you have refused big budget films?
Of course I have. Many in fact. After Omkara, and then Tanu wed Manu I had many offers. Save for a Dabangg, which I did only cause Arbaaz Bhai is a close friend, I have kept commercial cinema at bay. By commercial cinema here I mean roles that expect me to do nothing more than be a showpiece. I consciously look for work that has content. That will make people take notice, notwithstanding the fate of the film.
Does the film’s box office fate not worry you? Isn’t that important for an actor as well?
Look, I wouldn’t lie, money is important. Yet, what I also believe is that I have tried to make a path for myself, I want to be known by my work, by my acting abilities. I do not hanker for visibility or money or fame. I want to be known for the efforts I put in my role. And I am getting them in the small scale films that I have been doing. That is most important for me as an actor. Teen They Bhai, for example, did not exactly work wonders at the box office. Yet, there are many who remember my work in it, they remember my efforts. That is my reward. That is why I do cinema.
A banner does not matter in your scheme of things?
Definitely not. I get roles which are not sketched well. I get roles that , in my view do not respect me as an actor do not value me as a human being. Why should I allow myself to be a helper to the hero in films? What is my character graph? Where do I come from? What is my back story? It infuriates me that a big banner film never gives me that scope to even do basic acting. I refuse to give in to such a mindset where since it is a huge banner, a big commercial cinema, I should let go of my beliefs and just play a dumb role on screen for visibility. I’d rather do a small film where I have a full-fledged well written role. Where my role has an identity that is unique and well defined.
So does box office failure not dishearten you?
It does. It does, but then I also derive satisfaction from the fact that I did a good role, I got to display a side of my acting that I haven’t before. Plus the whole experience of working on films like these is something I always will cherish. Teen they Bhai for example, came along with Tanu Weds Manu. It suffered due to lack of promotions. Small films have that problem. Yet, I have fond memories of the film. I cherish that.
Promotions are a huge part of films today. There hardly is much noise around Chor Chor Super Chor. How important do you think is creating a buzz pre release?
Promotions are huge in the industry today and over done at the same time. Big films like Tanu weds Manu, eat into the space that small films like Teen they Bhai have. It is a weird thing today that while we have ample spaces to exhibit small films today, we do not have space to promote them. Big films swamp the mind space, suffocate smaller films. And a lot goes into making these smaller films. That is harmful for the future of cinema I feel. That should stop. Films run and make money on the basis of promotions these days. Content should instead drive a film ahead. Our film is strong on content, and that will take us through to the audiences with ease.
With such a belief system is finding work tough?
It is, I would not refute that. But then again, I am happy with the kind of work I am doing, and there is a huge trend of small films standing out in the bheed of huge big budget films. So am happy. I cant complain as long as I am working on my own terms.
Have you thought of going back to theatre any time?
I might go back to start an acting institute some time in the future, but never to acting on stage anymore. Stage is not what I left it as anymore. I did theatre in Delhi. The scene today there is like get a producer, a director in the audience for your shows and act so you impress them and bag a movie part. Theatre has become a means to get on to the silver screen. There is no devotion to the craft, no sincerity left in it anymore. I cannot work in a set up like that. So no I do not think theatre would work for me anymore.
Thank you so much for speaking to us. Wishing you all the luck for your release.