Bobby Deol, who’s always been one of Bollywood’s most criminally underrated actors, has been on an experimental path of late with OTT platforms. First there was Class of ’83 on Netflix, followed by a never-before-seen avatar as Baba Nirala on MX Player. Opening up on his recent choice in an exclusive interview with BollywoodLife, the actor said, “Well…that’s always been my endeavour. I’ve been deliberately trying to look for different characters. I have decided in my life that I get a good script, I will look for a good character I can get to play. You know…like challenging characters outside my comfort zone.”
Elaborating on playing something completely against type in Aashram, Bobby Deol added, “So, for me, playing something like this (Baba Nirala in Aashram)…I mean, I never thought in my weirdest imagination (taps his head and raises his eyebrows to show his mind being blown) that I would get a character like this. But, it’s so exciting because for me as an actor, I’m getting an opportunity to play…what you say…a criminal, a conman…something I’m not in real life.”
Talking about working with Prakash Jha, he gushed, “I mean, for 25 years I’ve been waiting to work with Prakashji. In between, we had met once and we thought that we’d work together. In fact, I had met him once when I was dubbing for Gupt, that was the first time, and he was so encouraging even then when I had met him, and finally when I got to know I had been called to meet Prakashji for a role in a series called Aashram…Shruti Mahajan, the casting agent, called me up and said, ‘Finally, I’m getting you something you really would enjoy to do, and I was like, ‘Okay…!’. She said, ‘It’s for Prakashji and it’s called Aashram,’ and I was again like, ‘Okay…Aashram…’ it sounds like one of those films he would kind of make because he’s made a lot of films that deals with matters with a social message. So, I went there and then I heard the idea, and I was like, wait a minute…he wants me to this play. And I realised at that moment that if the Director who creates such magic has already thought of me, then that means there’s something there I could do, and I felt very positive, very confident that he had so much faith in me.”
Happily revealing how he was overjoyed to know that he was the first choice for Aashram unlike Class of ’83, Bobby disclosed, “In fact, afterward, I got to know that I was always his first choice. So, I was again like, okay…I never thought of that the first time because when I did Class of ’83 (his Netflix film), I was never the first choice, and these things happen with actors, you have to go through this whole process. Then, I just put all my heart and soul into it.”
Letting us in on his prep for the role, the Soldier actor continued, “Sunitaji is an amazing lady. She sat with me, she sat with all the cast, and I spent three hours everyday since speaking such chaste Hindi (required of his character) itself is such difficult. So, I sat and learned those lines first of all and then understood the meaning of every word. Sitting with Sunitaji, I understood how these words are sued in small towns and how they feel and why they speak like this. Everything falls in place, once you understand the language and that’s one thing a conman has to have the grasp on because they’re so good with words. And those one and a half months of preparation gave me a lot of confidence, at same time, I knew if I did lose my confidence, if I did go a bit astray for my character, Prakashji was always in front of us to guide us. So, it was a smooth journey.”
Aashram is a 9-part webseries that has been directed by Prakash Jha of Gangaajal, Raajneeti, Mrityudand and Apaharan fame, and stars Bobby Deol, Aaditi Pohankar, Chandan Roy Sanyal, Darshan Kumaar, Anupriya Goenka, Adhyayan Suman, Tridha Choudhury, Vikram Kochhar, Tushar Pandey, Sachin Shroff, Anuritta K Jha and Rajeev Siddhartha in pivotal roles.