“It’s easy to be provocative by being nationalistic”

Actor Abhay Deol says his series ‘1962: The War In The Hills’ aligns perfectly with his anti-war philosophy as it focuses more on individual stories rather than indulging in hyper nationalism.
Deol, known for films like ‘Socha Nahin Tha’, ‘Dev D’, ‘Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!’ and ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobaara’, believes that the idea of showing nationalism in cinema has been is an over-used trope.
‘It has been done to death and it’s counter-productive. It’s easy to be provocative in a nationalistic way, rile up people’s feelings for their nation. That’s a much easier route to take. It’s obvious, easily recognisable. ‘It’s harder to stay away from that and try to find a philosophy behind it — why do we fight and what is its impact?’ he told PTI in a Zoom interview from Los Angeles.
Deol plays the lead role in Mahesh Manjrekar-directed series which is set against the backdrop of the 1962 India-China War.
The Disney+ Hotstar series narrates the story of 125 Indian Army personnel who fought with 3,000 Chinese soldiers.
Deol said he took up the series as it does not glamourise war.
‘Most of the time, we glamourise winning a fight. But there’s a compassion given to the other side as well, an empathy given to all mankind, than just saying we are better than you or we won.
‘The show is a lot more about the individuals that fight, their families and the impact that has on their lives, communities.’ The 44-year-old actor believes that the show is topical because it takes a humanitarian stand rather than a machoistic approach towards wars.
‘This is why art is given so much importance, because what cannot be said or taught through other subjects, art can do that. It speaks to your emotions. I hope it fulfils the need of the hour,’ he added.
Deol said he is prepared for varied reactions to the show as he is aware that people might have different takeaways from its story.
‘A viewer might interpret it in a completely different way than what we put forward. That’s why it’s important to be clear in what you’re saying. But then again, you don’t know what the state of mind is, sometimes people choose to see what they want to see, not what is being shown.’ There is more scrutiny on historical shows as people have varied opinion on how the country’s past is shown.
Asked if he was apprehensive about taking up a historical show, Deol said it would be difficult to move forward if one tried to ‘please everybody’.
‘You’re bound to offend someone. Some people go out looking to be offended, nothing can be done about that. The show is based on a battle that took place but the characters we have projected are fictional.
‘Which is what art does. It’ll take from reality and tweak it. It can’t be far from the truth. But the story of our show is about humanity and hence it’s extremely universal,’ the actor said.
‘1962: The War in the Hills’, also starring Annup Soni and Akash Thosar, started streaming on Disney+Hotstar from Friday.