Describing his character in Animal as a man “obsessed” with revenge, Bobby Deol says he approached the role from a non-judgemental space, completely surrendering to the thought process of his barbaric antagonist.
The Sandeep Reddy Vanga-directed crime drama film showcases a violent world set against the backdrop of a troubled relationship between Ranbir Kapoor’s Ranvijay Singh and his father Balbir Singh, played by Anil Kapoor. The movie has amassed Rs 236 crore at the box office in two days.
Deol, who became one of the highlights of the film soon after its teaser was released in September, essays the role of antagonist Abrar Haque in the movie.
“There’s good and evil in every human being and what gets the evil out of you is some situation. As an actor, you think as a character. ‘I’m doing nothing wrong, I’m right in whatever I do’. You forget how to judge what is right and wrong,” the actor told PTI in an interview.
Bobby Deol said he had no hesitation while playing a character beyond morals and values as there was a convincing back story.
“I was not put into a situation where I was not convinced or had to be convinced or felt awkward. I felt Abrar, the kind of savage and evil he is, I had to play it that way,” he added.
Deol said there was a compelling explanation for the animalistic nature of his character Abrar .
“He is obsessed with revenge. So when you get so obsessed, you don’t see what is good and bad, you just want to finish someone. That’s how it is. In the film, he has suffered… It’s a trauma that has made him this animal kind of a person,” the actor added.
“Animal” also features Rashmika Mandanna, Triptii Dimri, Shakti Kapoor, Suresh Oberoi and Prem Chopra. Since its release on Friday, the film has received polarising reactions from critics and audiences, with many deriding the movie for its violent and volatile protagonist, showcasing toxic masculinity and absurd plot points. Deol, 54, said it is impossible to make a film which is universally accepted.
“Filmmakers create stories for people to be entertained. This kind of toxicity and all of this exists in our society… Somewhere people can identify with it. But there will always be people who won’t like it, nothing can be liked by every individual… I think we are entertainers and we want to do different kinds of genres. That’s how I look at it,” the actor said.
Though there was so much hype around Deol’s character in Animal, to audiences’ disappointment the actor has limited screen time.
It was a character with a lot of substance and he wasn’t concerned about the length of role, said the actor.
“It’s not the length of the role, it is the kind of the character which has so much substance. I wish I had more scenes but when I signed the film, I knew this is what I had. At that point in my life, I was grateful to god that I was given this chance to play this role by Sandeep.
“I knew I had only 15 days of work and wouldn’t be there throughout the film. I was sure people would notice me, but I never realised that there will be so much love, appreciation and affection. It’s like wow! It’s amazing,” he added.
Deol, however, believes there is potential for a spin-off on his Animal character.
“People have loved the character so much that there should be a spin-off. It is so encouraging that people appreciate your work and they want to see more of you, playing that character. It feels good,” he added.
The actor along with lead star Ranbir Kapoor had to bulk up for their roles in the movie. While it was difficult to stay in shape, the motivation to play Abrar was the driving force, he said.
“I had to pump it out. It is tough to maintain physique but it’s the joy of playing a character, which I was so excited about. That kept giving me the strength to keep working hard at it,” Deol said.
Be it series Aashram, film Love Hostel, and now Animal, the actor is delighted to have found acceptance for his portrayal of negative characters.
“It is exciting to play characters of different kinds and complexities. It’s challenging to play evil. Whenever I’ve played evil parts, people have loved me. The amount of love I got for ‘Aashram’ was insane and now even in ‘Animal’ people have loved me.” In “Aashram”, he was seen as a self-styled godman, and in “Love Hostel”, he played Viraj Singh Dagar, a ruthless ex-convict hitman.
The actor said his family members are proud of his work in “Animal” and added that 2023 has turned out to be an amazing year for the Deol family with the success of brother Sunny Deol’s “Gadar 2” and “Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani”, that featured his father, cinema icon Dharmendra, in a pivotal role.
“They are happy for me. This year has been such an amazing time for us. My brother had Gadar 2, my film Animal is getting so much love at the box office and my father’s work… It’s just all amazing,” he said.