Having made his acting debut with Vishal Bhardwaj’s Maqbool, Deepak Dobriyal rose to prominence with his character ‘Pappi’ in Aanand L Rai’s Tanu Weds Manu, alongside R Madhavan and Kangana Ranaut. Since then, he has been unstoppable, delivering praiseworthy performances in films like Angrezi Medium, Good Luck Jerry, Bhediya and more. He was recently seen in the OTT series, Saas Bahu aur Flamingo, as the antagonist. In an exclusive chat with News18 Showsha, the actor opened up on being still considered as an ‘underrated actor’, working with the new generation of actors and his fondest memories of his co-star, late Irrfan Khan. Excerpts:
As an actor who has predominantly played comedy roles, have you ever worried about being typecast?
Whatever the role may be, I try to do it with utmost sincerity and dedication. Whether it’s a supporting role or a lead role, I’m involved in it completely. Main poori shiddat se karta hoon. Typecasting usually happens only in comedy roles or when it comes to roles like the hero’s friend. You don’t feel typecast in any other genre. There are different emotions (Nav Ras) in acting. We dwell within 3-4 emotions only. As an actor, I want to grow and experience all the emotions of acting. I want to break free from my comfort zone and take on projects that I haven’t tried before.
How was it working with Dimple Kapadia in Saas, Bahu Aur Flamingo?
She treats everyone as equal on sets. She seems casual on the surface, but then, when she sits alone with her scripts, she becomes a whole new person. She is so passionate about her work. When others would sleep, she would be by the swimming pool working on her script. The dedication is unparalleled.
You had previously dedicated an award you won for Good Luck Jerry to Janhvi Kapoor. You mentioned that you wanted to dedicate the award to her because people watched the film due to her fan following. Do you think that this perspective is now changing? Are films still star-driven or moving towards a more performance driven model?
When I receive awards, I express gratitude to everyone involved so that I don’t become complacent and let success get to my head. In Bholaa, the costume designer and makeup artist deserve as much praise as I do. Ajay bhai (Devgn) deserves recognition for casting me in that role. I have a clear understanding of this in my mind. I don’t want the entire cake – I just want a slice of it. Whoever deserves credit should get it rightfully. During Tanu Weds Manu, I mentioned Himanshu Sharma because people often overlook the contribution of writers. Good Luck Jerry premiered on OTT. If it weren’t for the star power of Janhvi Kapoor, hardly anyone would have seen it. I don’t want to be the one who claims credit for everything. I always give myself a reality check.
In your two-decade-long career, you’ve delivered many memorable performances. And yet, you are still often referred to as an underrated actor. What do you believe is the reason behind this perception?
I love the fact that the audience perceives me as underrated. To me, there can’t be a greater compliment. It goes on to say that they expect more from me and that they haven’t grown tired of my work yet. In showbiz, it’s important to bring freshness to each project. Being underrated is a beautiful thing. It feels like people are still watching my showreel, and my actual work is yet to come. I am constantly learning and evolving. Many senior actors get stuck in one role, and I feel sorry for them. One must continue to learn.
Have you ever had to make an effort to break away from your ‘comic actor’ image? Did you face challenges in convincing filmmakers to cast you in serious roles?
I never ask to be cast in a role. The director should cast me based on merit. If they have any doubts, I’m willing to suggest three other names who might be a better fit. I am not greedy for roles. My goal is for the director to give me a role that they are satisfied with. I have worked in 30 films so far, and the directors have been happy with my performances. Yeh field hee belief system ka hain. You need to believe your actor.
When working with actors from the new generation, such as Janhvi Kapoor and Radhika Madan, do you feel that they are more prepared and confident? How is it working with the younger lot?
The newer generation lacks patience. Agar jis cheez ka confidence chahiye woh nehi hain, aur kisi dusre cheez ka hai, toh gadbad hain. You need confidence in the specific thing you’re pursuing. Vishwanathan Anand can play chess, but he can’t run like Ronaldo. Ronaldo can’t play chess. This clarity is crucial. There is a lot of hype on social media and excessive exposure. There’s no exclusivity among the newer actors anymore. Everyone knows everything. Give yourself time, at least two hours, as an actor. Sab airport mein busy hai. I want to ask them – kya karke aa rahe ho? Kya karne jaa rahe ho?
You started your career with Irrfan. You also featured in the late actor’s last film, Angrezi Medium. Tell us about the relationship you shared with him.
We shared a great working relationship. He supported me wholeheartedly. I was working on a film and the DOP told me “Thora sa Irrfan bhai ka jhalak dikha.’ Shayad kuch andar reh gaya hai. He showed me a still photo. One of my biggest achievements is that I made him laugh a lot during Angrezi Medium. I considered making him laugh my work. He would tear up from laughing. His infectious laugh reverberates in my mind.