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Soldiering on...

From a shy schoolboy to a soldier in "Ab Tumhare Hawale Watan Sathiyo", Bobby Deol has come a long way


WHAT MAKES Bobby Deol special is his ability to instantly acknowledge and reciprocate the warmth he received from others. "You are very caring. Aren't you? Last time too, you advised me to avoid smoking. If I remember right, wasn't it two years ago," he asks a scribe who counsels him not to smoke his heart away. A hospitable soul, he makes sure to treat journalists lavishly — with liberal interviews and eatables. "You people are constantly on the move; please have something and relax... " is his usual way of welcoming scribes. An instant charmer, Bobby with his baby-pink complexion, gigantic personality and amenable disposition leaves little scope for complaint even if he arrives late for an interview.

Sport lover

Talking about Anil Sharma's film Hum Tumhare Hawale Watan Sathiyo, Bobby says he plays a romantic soldier, who loses in the war of love. "Mine is a lovable character with complexities. The film has references to the India-Pakistan war but that does not form the core," he says. "Unfortunately, people in India are largely illiterate, especially when it comes to watching films like this. They don't see the Partition as part of history but as winning or losing a battle between two communities. And this film fortunately is not about winning or losing a battle but is an attempt at combating terrorism together," he says.

This commerce graduate from Amrit Ben College in Mumbai had been an avid badminton, squash and soccer player and his parents wanted him to become a doctor. "I tried to live up to their expectation but in vain. Because to become a doctor one needs to study a lot and I was never a bookworm. Moreover, since the environment at home was film-oriented, it was only natural for people to expect that I would take to films. When I was small, an aunt who visited my house used to tell me, `ye to bada sona munda hai, ye to hero hi banega.' Such remarks were quite common from people visiting my home. So choosing cinema as a profession was almost a natural decision."

He decided to become a junior artiste first, but his shy nature proved to be a hindrance. "I was so shy that I failed a theatre test in school." To begin his journey into the world of films, he made a documentary called Manav with Atul Agnihotri and Bhushan but the film was a disaster. It was Kareeb that "beat the lazy bone" in him. "It was magic. It changed my routine completely. I used to get up at 11 o'clock earlier. During the shoot, I had to get up at five, go horse riding and attend dancing and theatre classes. Ghar walo ne socha ye to pagal ho gaya. For them the changes in me came as a shock."

And what next? "I am dying to do a costume drama."

RANA SIDDIQUI

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