He comes from the clan of Deols, who are known to be mass actors but Abhay Deol, who took the road less travelled by doing off-beat films, says it was not easy to go against the norm.
"I think I have done something that is different not only from what my family has been doing or did but also from what the industry is doing. I feel it is unfair to compare me with my family alone and not with other actors," Abhay told PTI.
"People used to tell me that I was doing wrong and that I will reach nowhere. I went against the norm. It was a
commercial suicide," he said reflecting on his film journey.
Today the 36-year-old actor has created a niche of himself and for which he says he had to revolt.
"I did not want to make it a revolt, but it became one. I did not want to rebel. I think in industry there is not much importance given to individuality but to packaging. If the package is right like from song, dance, six pack abs, big stars then it is correct and there is safety," Abhay said.
"When big actors or producers or directors come together for a film there is some safety. But I did not had any
safety as the subjects of films were off beat, characters new, directors and producers new. I designed that I will not do formula films. I wanted realism, relatibility. And it had nothing to do with my family...the industry," he said.
He made his debut with Imtiaz Ali's Socha Na Tha and went on to do off beat films like Ek Chalis Ki Last Local, Manorama Six Feet Under, Ahista Ahista and Road among others.
It was a conscious decision that Abhay took of not venturing into the territory of Deols and the formula-driven
films as a whole.
"It wasn't only a decision of not doing films that they (Deols) do but of the industry as I could not relate to
formula films... that had nothing to do with my family. It's the industry that makes formula films, not my family,"he said.
As he treaded an unusual path, the journey was not easy. "It wasn't easy because I was doing non-formula films.
And that's why I had five films with debut directors back to back. Those who were in the system could have afforded a change, but they were perpetuating it further by keeping it going, why would they want change?"
"The only person who wanted changes were from outside and it was hard for them. As an outsider it's much tougher to raise money, market, distribute the film... there was one difficulty after another. But I am happy to have reached here," he added.
Abhay has silenced his detractors by proving his versatility with films like Dev D, Oye Lucky Lucky Oye,
Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and Shanghai.
"I would like to thank them (who did not believe in him). It was because of them that I suppose things were difficult. And it was due to this difficulty that things were resolved," Abhay said.
Now with Prakash Jha's forthcoming film Chakravyuh, Abhay is in for some real action, synonymous with Deols.
So the comparisons are inevitable.
"The comparison with the family will be there as people feel it is an action film, people expected me to do this (action) but I didn't. When I entered the industry I knew there will be comparisons... after I did seven-eight films it started to slow down. But now again I am compared with them. I am used to it," he said.
Chakravyuh explores the Naxal problem, with Abhay essaying the role of a young rebel without a cause that changes him forever.
The film will see Manoj Bajpayee and newcomer Anjali Patil essaying the role of Naxalite leaders. Om Puri plays the role of a professor, while Arjun Rampal and Esha Gupta will be seen playing the role of courageous police officers. The film is up for release on October 24.