The actor speaks to Shveata Chandel Singh about how he made the transition from theatre to cinema
From acting in commercial hits like ‘Dabangg’ (2010) to critically acclaimed films including Gulal (2009) and Omkara (2006), Deepak Dobriyal has set his own benchmarks in the Bollywood industry and has made a lasting impression on directors and audiences alike. This year, he was seen in Tanu Weds Manu Returns’, where he played the role of Papiji – the loyal and rather hilarious Man Friday of the hero– winning accolades from the audience.
Before entering the big world of Bollywood, Deepak worked in theatre for seven years in Delhi. “It was a continuous struggle I never gave up,” says Deepak.
“Most people from Uttrakhand, where I come from, believe in securing government jobs when they grow up, but I always wanted to do something different. When all my friends were doing courses in Journalism, I opted for theatre along with my studies. It was theatre that taught me how to express myself; it gave me confidence and helped me discover myself.”
He got the opportunity to act in the play ‘Bakri’ when he was spotted by Arvind Gaur of Asmita theatre group. “I told him I wanted to join Asmita because they were one of the most prolific theatre groups in New Delhi and he welcomed me,” says Deepak.
“Theatre continued for few years, but slowly all my friends who started with me got jobs, got married, were doing well in life, while I was still struggling. So, finally I decided to try my luck in Bollywood,” says Deepak, who then moved to Mumbai in search of career opportunities. But that, he says, was the start of new struggle.
“During my initial days in Mumbai, I was working just to survive. I was trying to find a role where I could showcase my talent but nothing clicked for a long time. I could feel my confidence slipping,” he says.
“At one point I was ready to pack my bags and go back home. It was only after few good roles that my life changed and I promised myself to work harder and prove myself,” adds Deepak.
Deepak says his hard work paid off because today he is in a position where he can choose his roles and so is rather particular about what he does. “I am selective about my roles and I sign a film only if I find the role inspiring. The idea of doing something unusual always excites me. As an actor my motive is always to push my limits and I try to justify whatever role I am play. I am not after money only; I want to play those roles that make me go to the extreme to prove my worth.”
For all the acting aspirants Deepak says, “Theatre helps hone your acting skills. It gives you an overview of acting and builds confidence.”
As for his mantra for success, it’s simple: “Success has no short-cuts, so keep following your dreams, work hard and practice. If you are committed towards your goal, no one can stop you.”