By Subhash K. Jha, Indo-Asian News Service
Mumbai, (IANS) With "Shaka Laka Boom Boom", "Jhoom Baraabar" and "Apne", Bobby Deol, one of Bollywood's most self-effacing stars, is finally coming into his own.
Bobby's career is working out in more ways than one.
"I have been working out religiously lately. You know that one push that you need to do the right thing? I knew I was neglecting myself. But I needed to get into shape for my boxer's role in Anil Sharma's 'Apne'. That was reason enough to start working out. And now I feel more happy and comfortable than ever before," Bobby, for long the star in exile, told IANS.
There is plenty of reason to feel pleased. Bobby has just completed a very unusual film called 'Nanhe Jaisalmer' directed by Samir Karnik who made "Kyun... Ho Gaya Na" with Aishwarya Rai and Viveik Oberoi.
"It took me to a totally new territory. It is unlike anything I have done so far. I play Bobby Deol in the film. And the most surprising part of shooting in Jaisalmer was there were sandstorm and rains together."
Years ago, dad Dharmendra had played himself in Hrishikesh Mukherjee's "Guddi". Now it's Bobby's turn.
And if that honour hasn't turned Bobby's head, try this. A confectioner in Mumbai named Milinda has named a yummy multi-layered cake after Bobby.
"When I heard about the cake I was flattered, honoured and very, very moved. You know we are a large family and we have birthdays all the time. This lady makes all our cakes.
"I know she is fond of me. But I never imagined she'd actually make a cake from all those ingredients that I love. I have a major weakness for sweets. And to me this is a truly emotional homage to my sweet tooth. I don't know if anyone else has a cake named after him."
Bobby's cup of 'wow' runs over. After a lull of nearly three months when he has been working out and spending time with his two sons, Bobby is now into two major films.
"This month it's Suneel Darshan's film "Shaka Laka Boom Boom". Suneel has now moved to a different level. He is moving away from the family-oriented drama. He realises that today's films have to be targeted at the youth.
"Even I'm asked all the time why I don't do more films like 'Soldier' and 'Gupt'. I guess audiences do want to see me in young energetic films and roles. Suneel's new film will be a complete departure. Again, I play a role different from anything I have done so far. I must admit it has shades of grey in it.
"I think our cinema is shedding its skin. Just as people apply facial creams and get facelifts to look younger, our films too are undergoing a change. I am definitely going to be part of that change."
And if you think the excitement ends for this year with Darshan's unorthodox drama, here's more. Bobby teams up with Abhishek Bachchan in Shaad Ali's "Jhoom Baraabar".
"I have never worked with Abhishek before, though I know him very well. Abhishek is great fun. He makes you laugh all the time. We came close to working together in Abbas-Mustan's 'Humraaz'. I think he was terrific in 'Yuva'. I am looking forward to 'Jhoom Baraabar'."
Some eyebrows have been raised about Bobby doing a film for Yash Chopra whose banner Sunny had fallen out with after "Darr". Bobby laughs away the old cold war.
"People have to say something. Why do they need to dig into an old book of feuds for masala? I know my brother had a problem with the banner. But that is long forgotten. We have all moved on. Why hold on to the past specially when it is unpleasant?"
Bobby talks with characteristic fondness about his family: "We all live together. Now that I have stopped being the baby of the family, I feel responsible towards the family. I think I have become more mature in the last few years."
He says he has learned from his past mistakes and is now picking roles carefully.
"I admit I chose roles unwisely. But I don't regret doing any of them. One learns from one's mistakes. Today I am choosing very cautiously. I was very happy being at home for nearly three months. I needed to connect with my sons at this time when they are growing up.
"I remember how Sunny bhaiya and I missed dad during our growing years because he was busy working for his family. I can afford to take it easy. But now it is time to get back to work. I am looking forward to working with Suneel again and with Shaad Ali for the first time."
Bobby talks with some pleasure about "Apne", which is touted as his family film.
"It is not exactly a family film. We Deols aren't producing it. For now we are happy just acting. When it comes to taking a financial risk in film production it's good to be a son-in-law instead of a father-in-law.
" 'Apne' is a family-friend Anil Sharma's film. It is an emotional family film. It is about a father's dreams for his sons. Our dad, Sunny and I are together for the first time. Let's hope the audience is as excited about it as we are. We are looking at a Diwali release."
Any regrets about being so laidback about his career?
"None at all. Some people make plans for their life. I didn't. I am happy with what I have got. Yeah, I missed out on some good roles like Mani Ratnam's 'Yuva'. But that's okay. What isn't meant to be in life won't be. Thankfully, I am becoming more comfortable with people outside the familiar circle. I am ready to break free."