Sunny Deol On an Awkward Debut in ‘Betaab’ and Not Chasing Banners

Sunny Deol has changed with the times, the usually shy actor opens up about films and family

4 min read
Sunny Deol with Salman Khan on <i>Bigg Boss </i>to promote <i>Ghayal Once Again </i>(Photo: Yogen Shah)

I’m surprised that Sunny Deol has agreed for an interview without any preconditions. I’m surprised that he is actually smiling and having fun. Has time changed Sunny Deol or has Sunny submitted to time?

Q: Betaab in 1983 seems another lifetime.
Sunny Deol:
I was so awkward in my photoshoot with Amrita Singh that I wondered how I would do the romantic scenes with her. I’m sure dad thought on the same lines but never expressed it. It is my good luck that Betaab was appreciated and I was given another chance.

Q: You were a busy actor and successful too.
Sunny Deol: Probably but that time one was not well versed with box-office faring and the reviews as one is today.

I was told I was same in all my films but I didn’t agree because I did Arjun, a period love story Soni Mahiwal, a social action film Dacait and singing dancing role in Tridev and all in the same decade.

The usually media shy Sunny Deol has changed with the times. Here the actor appears on a TV show to promote his new film (Photo: Yogen Shah)
The usually media shy Sunny Deol has changed with the times. Here the actor appears on a TV show to promote his new film (Photo: Yogen Shah)

Q: You forgot Chaalbaaz?
Sunny Deol: (Smiles) I agreed to Chaalbaaz only because dad had done an identical role in Seeta Aur Geeta and felt that cinema should remember us for this. The bonus was getting to work with director Pankuj Parashar and the extremely talented Sridevi.

Q: Unlike other stars you never had a favourite banner?
Sunny Deol: Yes and which is why I had to initiate projects and work with the same directors.

I did Betaab and later Dacait with Rahul Rawail. With Raj Kumar Santoshi I did Ghayal,
Damini and Ghatak. I worked with banners too but not many. There was Border with JPDutta and Darr with Yash Raj Films. I don’t know if it had something to do with them or me but I was never a part of any camp.

Sunny with dad Dharmendra on Amitabh Bachchan’s TV show <i>Aaj Ki Raat Hai Zindagi </i>(Photo: Yogen Shah)
Sunny with dad Dharmendra on Amitabh Bachchan’s TV show Aaj Ki Raat Hai Zindagi (Photo: Yogen Shah)

Q: You launched Sunny Super Sound Studio and also your younger brother Bobby in Barsaat.
Sunny Deol: Sunny Super Sound was papa’s idea and we supported his dream. Papa launched me in the eighties and I assumed responsibility for Bobby’s debut in the nineties. In just a decade show business had changed drastically. Barsaat had superb music and Twinkle – Bobby made a dream pair.

Q: It was the most talked about premiere at that time.
Sunny Deol: The entire film fraternity showed up – all papas’ contemporaries, my colleagues and Dimple’s well wishers. Looking back it was a night to remember.

Today nobody hosts premieres. The old customs have made way for new launches and promotions (chuckles) and which is why I’m talking so much too.

A publicity card of one of Sunny Deol’s most popular hits - <i>Ghayal</i>
A publicity card of one of Sunny Deol’s most popular hits - Ghayal

Q: Ghayal was a turning point in your career.
Sunny Deol: We had faith in the project and did every scene with conviction but honestly we were unprepared for the reactions.

Today, I have become synonymous with the Dhai kilo ka haath dialogue but when we shot the scene nobody stopped to reflect. The same with the Taarikh dialogue in Damini. Writer-director Raj Kumar Santoshi was addressing the flaws in our legal system but clearly it touched a raw nerve which is why it is remembered even today.

Q: Gadar Ek Prem Gaatha is another milestone.
Sunny Deol: And again unplanned, after Ghayal the media was suddenly positive about me. The experts attributed the success of Gadar to my character in a paghdi (turban), some to the bashing of the neighbour country, which was not the intention. I believe what worked about the film was the story. It touched people’s hearts and director Anil Sharma did that again with Apne starring our entire family.

Sunny Deol with his team of <i>Ghayal Once Again </i>(Photo: Yogen Shah)
Sunny Deol with his team of Ghayal Once Again (Photo: Yogen Shah)

Q: What took you so long to get behind the camera and why Ghayal OnceAgain?
Sunny Deol: I should have made my debut earlier but something or the other kept delaying me. Ghayal Once Again because I read many scripts and didn’t like any and decided on a sequel. I’m launching four new faces and am awed by their enthusiasm. They are all energetic and raring to go.

Q: Are you as nervous as you were before the release of Betaab?
Sunny Deol:

More, then I had nothing to lose and lots of time. Today, I know I have to give my best shot.

(Bhawana Somaaya has been writing on cinema for 30 years and is the author of 12 books.)

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