Bollywood Star Abhay Deol Debuts as Producer With 'One by Two'

Abhay Deol

The actor also stars in the romantic drama, which is backed by Viacom18 and due out in India in February, with its sights set on international markets.

GOA, India – Bollywood actor Abhay Deol has co-produced his first feature, One by Two, backed by Viacom18 Motion Pictures, in which he also stars opposite debut actress Preeti Desai. The film will be released in India on Feb. 7 by Viacom18, which acquired the film early in its production.

Deol, who was featured in The Hollywood Reporter's GenNext Asia 2010 list of upcoming talent, is known for his roles in acclaimed films like Anurag Kashyap's DevD and most recently, Dibakar Banerjee's political drama Shanghai, an Indian remake of Z based on the the novel by Greek author Vassilis Vassilikos.

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One by Two is helmed by first-time writer-director Devika Bhagat, with Deol producing via his banner i.e. Films, along with Cynozure Films.

Deol describes the project as a “Six Degrees of Separation kind of drama between a young man and a woman who are somehow connected, without knowing that what they are doing affects the other.”

Deol is attending the National Film Development Corporation's Film Bazaar in Goa to drum up interest among buyers and festival programmers for the project, which he says has the potential for international sales “beyond the traditional markets, given the nature of the film. It is talking about a new India, beyond the stereotypical image usually seen in most films. What's encouraging is that Viacom18 is willing to explore how the film can also be sold to markets wider than the Indian diaspora.”

Deol hails from an established Bollywood family: His uncle Dharamendra is one of Indian cinema's veteran stars, and his cousins Sunny Deol and Bobby Deol are popular mainstream actors. But Deol took the offbeat path early in his career, acting in films such as Manorama Six Feet Under, just as a new sensibility in Indian cinema was taking root.

“I have never done the typical sell-your-soul Bollywood film, or a very niche art-house project, but tried to find a middle-of-the-road approach,” he said.

“However, I also realized that it's one thing to create good content and it's another to market it well,” added Deol, explaining his motivation to become a producer.

“And also, I was putting projects together anyway, when I pitched the concept for DevD (a modern take on classic romantic drama Devdas) to Anurag Kashyap, or got other films produced, like 2005's Socha Na Tha. So I thought, it's time I got credit for doing this!”

Deol says he is planning a full slate for his banner. "And I don't have to necessarily act in them," he said. "We are developing projects as we go along."

As for his distribution strategy for One by Two, Deol said it would be a first of sorts to try and “plan out the film's release without doing a simultaneous India and worldwide release, as is usually the case because most producers want to cash in quickly," he explained.

"It would be good to nurture the project step by step, in the hope of tapping new markets and of course, the festival circuit.”