But first the theme song – Bobby got only one verse last week, but as the ‘bhaiyya’, I say Sunny deserves two. I don’t play with seniority:
Want to be Bollywood stars
Just like their father
So they work real hard
He’s the action man
He’s really big and brawny
And he cannot dance
You don’t wanna mess with him
He’s got muscular substance
But there’s a big kid within
Sunny, the most successful of Dharam’s three acting children, was born Ajay Singh Deol in New Delhi on either, depending on whom you believe, 19th October 1956 (according to IMDb) or 19th October 1961 (according to BollyWHAT? and Wikipedia – although elsewhere on Wikipedia he’s listed as being born in 1956). So, he’s either 45 or 50 – I personally think he’s probably 45.
His first of 76 movies (as listed on IMDb) was 1983’s ‘Betaab’, which was a hit, the first of many Sunny-starrers to rake it in at the box office. Before taking on Bollywood, Sunny studied acting in Birmingham, England. It’s worth noting here that like Bobby (I remarked upon this in my Bobby post), his Bollywood career also began in his late twenties – maybe there’s no ‘reason’ for that other than they needed to be ‘ready’ before plunging into movies. His most successful movie is 2001’s blockbuster, ‘Gadar: Ek Prem Katha’. He directed ‘Dillagi’ in 1999, co-starring with Bobby for the first time – although it got good reviews, it bombed at the box office. He’s won several acting awards (for ‘Ghayal’, ‘Damini’ and ‘Gadar’).
I like Sunny Deol. I think he’s quite a good actor, and I really like the fact that he knows his niche (action movies) and hasn’t strayed too far from it, instead of pretending he can do it all. He has won many loyal fans for his reliability as an action hero. Despite the jibes of the naysayers, he has been consistently doing what he does for years, and I think he’s good at it. He’s really hardworking and does a lot of his own stunts. And I love that he made a great comeback with 'Gadar' - I always love comebacks.
I’ve found Sunny’s acting credible in the few films of his I’ve seen – but I don’t think he’s hot (at the moment, that is; that might change). I’m not sure why, especially as he looks very much like my darling Dharmendra. The resemblance is striking – he’s definitely not as handsome as Dharam, but he does look a lot like him. He even has the slight throatiness to his voice that I love about Dharmendra’s – it’s not as sexy as his dad’s, but it’s there. But I just don’t think he’s hot. I like the way he beats up the bad guys, but I don’t think it’s sexy. I guess this whole line of thought is the problem – the resemblance to his dad always makes you compare their acting, their hotness, their whatever. It’s so unfair really.
And now for the Sunny movies I’ve seen:
Sunny was mad when he realised that SRK was getting all the post-release attention – according to him, Yash Chopra completely manipulated and misrepresented his role in ‘Darr’. He felt deceived and even, in what must have been an exceptionally surly moment, put down SRK’s role as being easy-peasy (quite childish on Sunny’s part, I think). ‘Darr’ created a rift between Sunny and Yash Raj Films that continues today. And SRK, of course, went on to superstardom.
There’s nothing majorly wrong with Sunny’s performance in ‘Darr’. As Juhi’s Navy commando husband, he is strong, dependable, loyal, understanding and protective, doing his best to save her from her demented stalker. He had good chemistry with Juhi too. The only problem is that SRK had the opportunity to do so much more with his role – he just grabs your attention everytime he’s on the screen. He makes you believe in his craziness, and makes you understand Juhi’s terror. He also makes you, strangely enough, relate to his pain and angst. Sunny didn’t stand a chance… his character just didn’t have as much ‘meat’ to him.
While Sunny’s performance was ok in my eyes and he does all the action and romantic bits very well, there were two things I personally didn’t like about Sunny’s ‘Darr’ character – but I can’t blame him for them – it was the scriptwriter and director’s call (which makes me think they may indeed have done a number on poor Sunny). One was the scene in which his character is avidly watching a stripper on TV while on a private getaway with his new bride, who then has to come and ‘distract’ him by doing a striptease of her own. I thought that was a bit (no, very) cheap. The other was the very end of the movie when Sunny’s character mocks SRK’s ‘K-k-kiran’ stutter, and they all laugh uproariously. I found that in very poor taste, especially after what had happened to the guy, who was, after all, very sick and disturbed – no wonder SRK got more sympathy from the audience.
Even if Chopra did deceive Sunny about his role in the film (I think it seems possible), it was churlish of him to throw a public tantrum (that big kid coming through, huh?). Methinks ’twould have been more dignified to congratulate SRK and just move on. But I guess he had to be true to himself and express his feelings.
‘INSANIYAT’: Really, the less said about this star-studded, big-budget film the better. I hated it. Only watched it for five minutes and gave up – so I have no idea whether or not Sunny was good in it.
‘INDIAN’: Sunny plays an honest, tough, often brutal policeman who goes after terrorists, corrupt politicians and other bad guys. His job is made tougher by corrupt members of the police and sarkar, who secretly work for the terrorists. Shilpa plays Sunny’s wife and mother of his two cute little kids, who finds her marital relationship threatened by Sunny’s actions against someone she loves. Sunny faces difficult trials because of his determination to fight the bad guys, a duty he claims not just as a policeman, but as an Indian (hence the name of the film).
‘Indian’ is not a terrible film, but I certainly wouldn’t call it good either – I would say it’s watchable. There are huge holes in the plot, and some highly improbable situations, and sometimes it drags on a bit, but I guess it’s your basic ‘ok’ action movie (lots and lots of fight scenes, people getting beaten up, guns and bombs). There is some romance between Sunny and Shilpa, but it’s not that memorable, mainly, in my opinion, because there’s not a lot of chemistry there. I liked Sunny’s hard-as-nails, uncompromising performance, even if he did go waaaay over the top now and again. His dancing was awful as ever, but otherwise he was alright. I liked that you could tell he was putting his best into it. I think he did well.
‘JAAL: THE TRAP’: I found ‘Jaal’ surprisingly watchable. It’s another good-guys-against-bad-terrorists action film, but I thought it was quite well done. It has some of the same extra-patriotic overtones as ‘Indian’, with Sunny playing a patriotic musician called Ajay (he does a song called ‘Sher Dil Indian’, accompanied with bad dancing) who has also trained as a commando. He gets drawn into a trap by terrorists, and the story is about how it all happens and how he gets out. There are a few unexpected twists and turns along the way, and I liked that.
Sunny is quite good in this film – he has a good range – I of course found the whole ‘musician’ thing totally unbelievable (especially when he started to dance), but he does very well with the action bits, the romantic bits and even the odd comedic bit. He and Tabu (in quite a good performance by her, I thought) had very nice chemistry, right up to the end. Reema Sen basically plays an irritating brat - but she does it well, although there's zero chemistry between her and Sunny. As for Anupam Kher – I wasn’t quite convinced by his role, but it was ok. Amrish Puri is really good playing Sunny Deol’s dad in this film, and I loved all their scenes together – especially the one where they’re on a bike together. Farida Jalal had a teeny role as Ajay’s mother.
Another thing ‘Jaal’ has going for it is really nice music – I enjoyed all the songs and thought they were nicely picturised, in a way that tied in well with the story – there’s quite a bemusing bit where in the middle of a romantic song, Tabu and Sunny are interrupted by rampaging sheep, helicopters and terrorists. They do the same thing in another romantic song, this time with Reema. I have to say I liked the oddness of it.
‘Jaal’ has its faults – there are some holes in the plot and some undue violence and unnecessary killing (but then, it’s an action film, and you find that a lot, in Bollywood and everywhere else), and the train scene at the climax drags a bit. There are also some silly and overdone stunts, like when they try to make what’s obviously a bungee jump appear to be a freefall – twice. And the rom-com bits are just plain silly and nonsensical. But generally I liked this movie and I enjoyed Sunny’s performance.
The critics say Sunny Deol has no range as an actor, but I’d like to offer up a few specimens from ‘Jaal’ to counter that claim…
The don’t-you-mess-with-me-cos-I’m-such-a-baddddassss expression:
The if-I-wasn’t-such-a-baddddassss-I’d-be-peeing-in-my-pants-right-now expression:
The WTH? expression:
The you’ve-rocked-my-world-and-touched-me-to-the-depths-of-my-soul expression:
The I’m-such-a-cool-dude-with-my-collar-up-like-this expression:
And finally… the I-must-do-what-I-must-do-and-not-be-shaken expression:
And here are some of the many resources on Sunny Deol available on the web…
http://www.rediff.com/movies/2003/apr/10sunny.htm - An interview after the release of ‘The Hero’. He has some sweet words to say about this dad – totally love that.
http://www.bollywhat.com/Biographies/sunny_bio.html - His BollyWHAT entry.
http://entertainment.oneindia.in/movies/bollywood/interviews/sunny-deol-061206.html - Quite a sweet interview.
http://www.rhythminfo.com/ArtistInterview.asp?artistid=29&pagecat=Interview - The patriotic thing comes through here.
http://www.parinda.com/movies/sunny_deol.shtml - A good profile with some startlingly old-fashioned views on fatherhood from Sunny, and links to other resources.
http://www.rediff.com/entertai/2001/jul/07sun.htm - Basking in the success of ‘Gadar’.
http://www.indiaoz.com.au/bollywood/stars/sunny_deol/ - Very entertaining article on his films and personal life – a bit gossip-rag-ish, though.
http://www.rediff.com/entertai/2000/oct/19sunny.htm - A neat little bit of introspection.
www.imdb.com/name/nm0219971/miscsites - His IMDb miscellaneous links
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0219971/ - His IMDb entry
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunny_Deol - His Wikipedia entry