Sunny Deol is not easy to interview. And his marketing skills are weak. This is why his contemporary Anil Kapoor is in the news constantly. But we hardly ever hear of Sunny Deol.
As we chat over the phone, Sunny laughs uncomfortably when I comment on his marketing skills. “You know very well how bad I am at selling myself. If I knew how to do that, I would. But I don’t! To me cinema is my passion. I inherited this passion from my father (the legendary Dharmendra). Even if I am not seen that often on screen I am thinking, breathing, exhaling cinema.”
We last saw Sunny Deol in Ghayal Once Again in 2016, a purported sequel to Sunny’s 1990 blockbuster Ghayal, Sunny directed the sequel. Ghayal Once Again failed.
Says Sunny, “I did what I could, given the limitations. The entire dynamics and economics of filmmaking have failed. I see a lot of corporatization but very little genuine passion in the films today. I hardly watch any of the films being made these days. I don’t have the time. Even when I was younger I was not much of a movie watcher. When I have time I watch South Indian films. I find them very strong in content. Among recent films I did see Baahubali, the first part not the second. I remember coming out of it with tears in my eyes and hope in my heart. I felt the film was not up to the mark in special effects. But it scored very high in emotion and drama. This is what we must focus on in our cinema.”
Sunny Deol will be seen next week in the quirky comedy Poster Boyz with which Shreyas Talpade turns director. “What attracted me to this project? That my brother Bobs (Bobby Deol) was in it was an incentive, yes. That it was already a hit in Marathi …no. That didn’t mean anything to me. But when I heard the idea I instantly warmed up to it and agreed to do it. Not too many scripts these days make us smile. Poster Boyz made me smile.”
Though identified strongly with the action genre Sunny Deol likes doing comedy. “I do it whenever I can. I enjoy doing comedy, though I can never dream of possessing my father’s sense of comic timing.”
The hero-worshipping son is also a shy father. Sunny’s son Karan is all set to be launched in a film entitled Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas. The title is taken from an immortal melody in Sunny’s father Dharmendra’s film Blackmail.
Sunny Deol is reluctant to talk about his son’s launch. “Let it first be made. Right now it’s too early. But yes, like all fathers I want the very best for my son. This is why I decided to direct the film myself. I am in no hurry to complete it. We’ve not decided on a release date. We will release the film whenever we feel the film is ready.”
Why do we see so little of Sunny on screen? I ask. And I get a refreshingly candid reply. “You tell me why I am seen so little. It’s not as if I am saying no to scores of offers. It’s not as if I am unwilling to do films at this stage of my career. I can’t answer why I am not being seen more often.”
He laments the paucity of movie theatres in India. “We have graduated from single theatres to multiplexes. But we still don’t have enough theatres for all films. The smaller films don’t even get noticed properly no matter how deserving they are of attention. Hopefully Poster Boyz will get good theatres and timing.”
There is no craving in Sunny to do a profusion of films. “I may not be ruling the box office. But I am loved by the audience. All of us Deols are loved. We couldn’t ask for more.”