Deepak Dobriyal has been acting in films since 2003, and he has been consistently good in everything he has done. The films he has been in may not work sometime, but Deepak’s skills always shines through. When you compliment him in this fashion, Deepak laughs a little and is quick to say his thank yous, not once but multiple times. It is this kind of sincerity and honesty that he manages to bring to his characters as well. Whether it be a few minutes-long role in Vishal Bhardwaj’s Omakara or a more meatier chunk in a Hindi Medium or Good Luck Jerry, with an ‘item number’ to boot.
Speaking about Hindi Medium and sharing screen space with Irrfan for the first time, Deepak said that the 2017 blockbuster was offered to him while he was doing the offbeat Kaalakaandi (2017).
“It (Hindi Medium) was offered to me while I was working in Kaalakaandi, that is when I met Dinesh Vijan, the producer. I had to begin with the climax, and wo bhi Irrfan bhai ke saath (and that too, with Irrfan Khan). I had met him before a couple of times during screenings and parties and such, but we had not really interacted. And I was so nervous that I couldn’t sleep the whole night, because I barely got time to prepare in between both the shoots,” Deepak told indianexpress.com.
Deepak, who comes from theatre background, said that improvising comes naturally to him, and in the first shot itself, Deepak made some considerable changes to how his character would behave and present himself. The actor mentioned that while filmmaker Saket Chaudhary was not very happy with it, Deepak requested him to trust his instincts and he got ample support from cinematographer of the movie, Laxman Utekar. “When my character comes to meet Irrfan, he brings with him a bunch of bananas, but the script said that he would bring in flowers. However, I insisted on the fruit thing because bringing in flowers for someone would not be a part of his culture. Even the language was more from the UP side, and I said that if Shyam Prakash is from Delhi, let him speak that kind of language only.”
He circled back to the late Irrfan and said that friendship they developed on set was real and warm, and which is one of the reasons why it translated so well on screen.
“As soon as I met Irrfan bhai, we just hit it from the word go. The set would often crack up when we would perform together. The whole thing became very easy. And I remember Irrfan bhai saying to Saket (director Saket Chaudhary), ‘Isko mat rokna, Deepak ko mat rokna, wo bohot sahi sur pe le jaa raha hai film ko (Don’t stop Deepak, let him do what he wants. He is taking the film to its destination).’ And we would spend a lot of time together; his hotel room was next to mine. We would meet up every evening and play for three hours, like children. I just had this brotherly love for him,” stated the actor.
Since Hindi Medium is full of such tiny gems, Deepak also spoke about another lovely bit from the movie, where his character introduces himself to Irrfan. Deepak does a monologue which, although funny and almost poem-like, had this stark honesty about it. Without going overboard, in a few lines, the writers (Saket Chaudhary, Amitosh Nagpal and Zeenat Lakhani) managed to convey the identity crisis Deepak’s Shyam Prakash suffers from on a daily basis. “No one has ever called me by my given name,” he says at one point. Elaborating upon it further, Deepak said, “Amitosh had written such lovely lines, it was very Chekov-inspired, at least that is how I connected with it. Plus, I am from Delhi and I am familiar with those places, it was really nice to film in Sangam Vihar. So a combination of those things helped me convey that moment. Dukh dikhana bohot cliche ho gaya hai industry mein (Showing this pain of poverty has become kind of cliched and stereotypical in our movies). So, we decided to do it a bit differently.”
Upon its release, Hindi Medium was celebrated by both the audience and critics. While the critics raved about cast’s performances, the viewers made their love known by crashing the ticket counter. Made on a modest budget of Rs 14 crore, Hindi Medium ended up collecting over Rs 320 crore at the box office.
Also starring Amrita Singh and Saba Qamar, the film is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.