Having the same sort of vulnerability which his father reflects despite his ‘angry young man’ image – Karan Deol makes his Hindi cinema debut with ‘Pal PalDilKePaas’. Being directed by his father Sunny Deol himself, the young boy shares his experience on his debut releases, his influences and much more…

There’s been a long wait! What emotions have you been feeling all this while all through as ‘Pal PalDilKePaas’ released?
I’ve been nervous about the fact that what’s going to happen to the movie because my dad is the producer and the director. So, the atmosphere at home all through has been quiet, nervous, excited.

Your father debuted with Amrita Singh in a love story. Then of course, Bobby Deol made his debut with a love story as well, followed by you now. Was that always the aim for you?
That’s because in this age, in your first movie – the innocence in love can best be depicted. I don’t think later on you can play it that way. Your first role is like your first love. It’s so fresh and so unique that time. The feelings are so natural and it’s nothing mechanical. That’s how my father wanted to do it. And the youth connects more to love stories. It’s easier doing a romantic movie. We never planned it that way, it just happened. Somehow, that pattern has just stuck.

Why did it take so long to get this film made?
That’s because, my father was busy with ‘Ghayal Once Again’. It got a little delayed and once it released, Dad wanted to take a little break and mental gap. As a director, it’s a very tasking job emotionally and physically. Then we started the scripting process with dad and the writers, Ravi and Jassi. When you’re brainstorming, it takes time. That process took a good year. Then dad went to different locations for reccee. It took time to just reach those places. The planning and all because of locations took time. I had to train a lot, because at that altitude, you need to be train otherwise you can suffer illnesses. I did my own training for 4-5moths with a local over there – who trained me in rock climbing, river rafting. We camped at different altitudes to the body gets accustomed to it. We came back then to search for an actress and then we got Sahher fortunately. Then we did workshops. Even during the shoot, because of the rains there were a lot of delays. We’ve seen every season in Manali possible. So, that took a lot of time. I was always anxious but things will happen only when they’re meant to be. The more worked up you get, the more it affects you mentally and it affects your work. So, in the industry, it’s very important to be patient because you will get your due eventually. You just have to do your hard work, and hopefully God will see it and you will get your due. The whole process matured me and changed me.

Was Sunny Deol a strict director?
He is definitely a stricter director than a father. The discipline he had on set was something else. He would reach on set before the unit and when you have a director who reaches on set before the unit, even you should be there. That drives you because everyone’s time is as valuable as the other. It subconsciously put discipline in me and it actually surpises you for what’s there outside. He wouldn’t stop till he thought what he got was right – whether it was jumping 6-7 times or whatever be it. He just wanted to make me push myself. He made me do raw action in the film.

But did it also help that he’s directed you because he knows you so well so he could tap into your personality and emotions?
It did. Somewhere he poked me and I didn’t realise it but the emotion came out. When I saw the take, I was like, ‘okay! This is where he was coming from and he knows me so well that’s why he would do it.’ It was a different type of tuning that did kick in.

What did you think he has brought into the film?
I don’t think he wanted to make this a hero-hero kind of a film. He didn’t want to have a typical launch. He just wanted to make this film about two characters. There’s nothing like a hero’s entry or anything in our film. It’s just a story and the characters talking – which is what his vision has brought to the film.

Sunny Deol has this angry young man image, but the vulnerability in his eyes also could never be missed. Do you imbibe that from him? Or do you think, this character was that way?
He is a very shy guy personally and that always reflected even in his characters. As far as I’m concerned, my character in this film also is that way. He has that innocence because he is not from the city. People who live up there in the mountains, their way of life is very different from ours. They are laid-back and easy going. They don’t think about the problems we think about. That’s where the vulnerability comes in.

Have you been more influenced by Hindi cinema or the western cinema?
I think I’m really influenced by the new cinema which we have because Hindi cinema is really pushing boundaries. Be it ‘Love Per Square Foot’ which Vicky Kaushal did for Netflix or ‘Uri’ or ‘Sanju’. Be it Ayushmann’s ‘Article 15’ or ‘Dreamgirl’. A lot of character-driven work is happening and hats off to these actors who’re doing it. I see a lot of stuff from outside but these actors are bringing me back to Hindi cinema. CinemaInterviewsBollywood Trade Magazine