Abhay Deol (AD): Thank you!
FS: You have experimented with your look once again. Is it a risk donning this kind of a look in a film like 'Shanghai' especially after 'Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara' which is a big hit?
AD: 'Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara' had me as a very young, urban and the kind of guy who has a good time and has girls after him. He's handsome; he's charming blah blah blah. And then I had 'Shanghai', where my character is 10-12 years older than the character I played in 'Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara'. He's an IAS officer, Tamil, religious, married, egoistical…not the kind of guy you would like and definitely not the guy you would imagine who has a good time and have women running after him. I was happy I got to go so drastically different from my look in 'Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara' and background simply because it then enabled me to keep the audience guessing as to what my next film would be about and what kind of a character I would portray. So I never had any doubt in my mind. In fact, I was thankful that I got it.
FS: Does your character, TA Krishnan, have an ambition that India should take over China one day?
AD: He's an IAS office and very patriotic. He believes that the day our GDP matches that of China and goes beyond it is the day we would progress as a nation.
FS: Tell us about the experience of shooting in the grueling heat in the middle of India, especially after Spain?
AD: My shoot days were the easiest compared to what Emraan (Hashmi) and Kalki (Koechlin) had to do simply because all my scenes are with my boss played by Farooq Sheikh and it was lot of interior work. Whereas what Emraan and Kalki had to do was to be out there. In parts of the movie where there's a curfew or there's episodes of violence were the tougher days for the unit. Whenever my portions were to be done, everybody in the crew would behave as if they were on a vacation and would be like 'We've got the Krishnan portions to do'!
FS: As far as Dibakar Banerjee is concerned, all his 3 films be it 'Khosla Ka Ghosla', 'Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye' and 'Love Sex Aur Dhokha' were unconventional and what some would say that it supports parallel movement but at the same time have been commercially successful as well. Even in 'Shanghai' he has incorporated the music smartly and also has an item song. In that context, how important do you think is merging the commercial aspects into a movie which has a certain statement to make?
AD: A commercial film isn't good just because it sticks to a formula. An offbeat film isn't good just because it's not stuck to the formula. It could very well be a very bad film. Dibakar has the ability to merge content and entertainment together and then make a movie.
FS: In hindsight, do you feel that the entire controversy of you having differences with Emraan and Dibakar was needless or was there any truth to it?
AD: The controversies happened because there was a journalist who chose to make them up. When I spoke to the paper, I said that 'the PR of the film is doing it (creating controversies)'. The journalist then called up Dibakar and said 'No no no! It was not the PR. It was me because I thought the film would get some publicity'! So unfortunately we live in times where people don't have any creativity. And it's so easy to get eyeballs because you're scandalous. It takes a little effort to be creative and to get people interested. And in this case particularly, there was this one journalist who's known to be that way and because I have never replied to his mails and been friendly to him, he chose to take it out in the papers. I've actually been told by journalists if I say anything against an actor, director or producer, they'll publish it but if I speak against a journalist, they would not print that! So it's a bit hypocritical and in fact, PVR even came up with a statement saying that it was the PR but a journalist, who's trying to make needless controversies. And the papers said that 'we agree with you and we know that this journalist makes up stuff. But we printed those articles and hence we can't put this in our papers'!
FS: Dibakar stated that he sensed tension between you and Emraan…
AD: Dibakar never said that!
FS: Maybe it was misquoted…
AD: Might be but he never said so. Sense tension as in personally?
FS: I can show you the story in fact!
AD: Well I have read stories where Dibakar has said that Abhay wants to dub because he's a perfectionist and it was written that I want to dub because I am insecure of Emraan! So he was quoted correctly and then he was interpreted by the writer. When you put a quote of a director, it gives the article legitimacy which is why the paper prints it. Now if the writer chooses to make his own interpretation out of it, we can just hope that the reader read it and realizes that it's the writer's interpretation where the director is not saying what the article is saying. So something as simple as saying 'Abhay is a perfectionist. I don't think he needs to dub but he wants to and so I am let him', the writer chooses to write it as 'It is heard that Abhay is insecure of Emraan and hence wants to dub'! So that's not what the director is saying. That is what the writer has written.
FS: Fair enough!