Sunny Deol talks of his relationship with director Anil Sharma and his upcoming movies
Entering a tête-à-tête with a Bollywood actor on time is rare, and I now have one such story for posterity’s sake. Besides being punctual, Sunny Deol is an actor who displays non-star-like behaviour such as being unrehearsed, giving heartfelt responses, talking of things besides making Rs. 100 crore, and yes, still bearing that Betaab smile, that one has to pinch oneself regularly.
Return of the action hero
But the man is not all mildness personified. He has just finished a live conferencing session with a TV channel and vented his anger on the Delhi gang rape case. His calm exterior notwithstanding, the warring Sikh in him is back, alongside Anil Sharma, under whose direction he has given hits such as Gadar: Ek Prem Katha, Apne and The Hero: Love Story of a Spy. The film, titled Singh Saab the Great, has Sunny playing a District Collector in a small town of Uttar Pradesh, who fights crime and injustice in his unique way. Change, and not revenge, is the basic premise of the movie. It is being pitched as the return of the original action hero.
Asked regarding his action image, the 57-year-old actor smiles, almost sheepishly, “My films are romantic films; somehow just the action gets all the attention. Take Gadar, for instance. It dealt with a man who would go to any length for the love of his life. But the action was more talked of than the love story!” The actor is returning to the genre after the 2003 film The Hero: Love Story of a Spy.
“Singh Saab the Great is a good, believable subject. I have been away from action for a while because of various reasons. My back trouble kept me out of work for a long time; I didn’t find any interesting subjects, and with regard to those that seemed good, the makers weren’t sure if they’d be profitable,” he reveals.
The film is also not a remake of any south Indian film, the current rage in Bollywood. “Till date I haven’t been part of any South remake, with the exception of Indian, because the director N. Maharajan was a writer on my previous film and he wanted to work on this one with me. I like to do films that are original. My scripts usually spring from contemporary social problems and possible answers. As an actor, I like to go into a scene without knowing the outcome. I hate it when people tell me this is going to be a paisa vasool scene or a clap-worthy dialogue. I can’t understand the logic. There is no fun in doing that.”
In the last few years, Sunny Deol’s blend of emotions and action seems to have been mastered and used effectively by action heroes who have marched into the Rs 100-crore club. “Salman Khan and a few more actors have worked wonders in this genre and I think filmmakers have started investing openly in this space. Earlier the thought was that multiplexes won’t take such films; they will appeal only to single-screen viewers. As it happens, that’s changed.”
But in spite of the changing dynamics of the industry, especially its more marketing-savvy face, Sunny has no regrets. “I don’t harbour negativity. I am the sort who moves on pretty easily.” Ask him regarding the much-spoken of ‘fight’ between his director Anil Sharma and himself and the disarming smile surfaces once more, “Nothing of that sort. Yes, he worked with others and me too. But we are working together and will continue to do so. What I like when it comes to Anil and I am sure, he too likes regarding me, is that we don’t let our films wander. We keep the story true to its mission. The moment you let the story get out of hand, there are chances of meandering.”
The Deols’ Vijayta Films is back on its feet and Sunny says he will continue to make films that matter to him. “When we made Ghayal in 1990, no one was ready to support the film. I was so confused with the initial feedback I didn’t know what I was getting into. I still remember the media briefing we had just after the first screening of the film and thoughts of getting massacred were running in my head when I walked on to the dais. Would you believe I got a standing ovation from the media! I went numb. With ticket prices rising, people expect a lot more bang for their buck. But these are the films I want to make even today. What we are trying to do under the Vijayta Films banner is give people entertaining films and include some unusual stuff. While whetting the commercial appetite, we hope that unique subjects will become the normal diet some day!”