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Interview Hindi

Sunny Deol: Wish I was an actor during my dad Dharmendra's era

In a chat with us, Deol got talking about his latest comedy, Yamla Pagla Deewana Phir Se, and candidly spoke of his dislike for the 'Rs100 crore club' phenomenon.

Keyur Seta

Actor Sunny Deol entered Hindi cinema with the romantic film Betaab in 1983 and soon took to action dramas, with films like Arjun (1985), Ghayal (1990), Ghatak (1996), Ziddi (1997), Zor (1998), Gadar: Ek Prem Katha (2001) and Indian (2001), among others.

35 years later, Deol is still identified as an action hero. Even though he is increasingly turning towards the comedy genre with films like the Yamla Pagla Deewana franchise, Fool N Final (2007) and Poster Boys (2017), these inadvertantly played on his 'macho, action hero' trope.   

When asked why this image refuses to leave him, the actor cheekily replied saying, perhaps, nobody else is good enough to replace him.

In a chat with Cinestaan.com, Deol got talking about his latest comedy, Yamla Pagla Deewana Phir Se, which also features his father, Dharmendra, and brother, Bobby Deol, candidly spoke of his dislike for the 'Rs100 crore club' phenomenon, adding that he regrets not being born during his father’s era. Excerpts.

How different is this film from the first two films in the franchise [Yamla Pagla Deewana (2011) and Yamla Pagla Deewana 2 (2013)]?

It’s phir se [again] but in a different way because Bob [Bobby Deol] and my character are the only two who are connected together like brothers. Dad is not a part of it [the family in the film]. But the characterization of Yamla, Pagla and Deewana are the same. 

Generally, the USP of a franchise is taken to another level in the latest film. So, what is the madness level like in the third film? 

I wish there was some yardstick to measure [laughs]. Well, our promos have created a buzz about it. So, I am sure there is something nice about it, which the people are liking. We have done our best for the film. I felt the earlier one didn’t have the earthiness like the first one. That’s why we tried that this film is based in India; in a village or town. The novelty is that we thought we can link Gujarat and Punjab because both communities are happy and loud [laughs]. They are foodies. 

The second film didn’t do well. Even Dharmendra was upset because of it. Still you thought of creating a third instalment?

It wasn’t a big deal. Yes, we made it and it didn’t do well. We were a little disheartened. We didn’t take it very seriously. We moved ahead with something else. But in back of the mind we wondered, why [it didn’t do well]? That was always there, but it didn’t stop us from doing another thing again. That wasn’t the case. 

A still from Yamla Pagla Deewana Phir Se

Have you taken any extra precautions this time?

No, we haven’t taken any extra precautions because we really don’t know the recipe of a hit film. It’s very difficult to say that. The whole fun lies in the fact that we don’t know what is going to happen. We are on the edge. Suddenly, we will get to know whether people liked or didn’t like it. There are films that are meaningless but still do well. So, it’s difficult to place it as to how it’s going to be. 

How much are you expecting the film to earn at the box office? 

I don’t look at films from the view that it should make Rs100 crore or these many crores. This has become the way of working. It shouldn’t be the reason to work. The reason should be to make a good film. Off late I have not done such films but earlier we did such cinema and those films, don’t know, how many hundreds of crore it made if we put together. At that time also I didn’t know that they will become hits and people would love it. We had no idea. So, the beauty of doing a film, which I believe, is to go full out for it and just hope that people like it and after that we don’t know what’s going to happen. 

These days it is a trend to keep speaking about the film’s opening. The whole scenario has become such that it doesn’t make any sense to me. At the end of the day, we do everything not knowing what exactly reaches to the people. 

There have been references of your old films in Yamla Pagla Deewana (2011) and Poster Boys (2017). Was this always planned while writing?

The director wanted it in the first film. That’s why we did it and people liked it. But I have never been fond of doing those kinds of things. I remember, during Yamla Pagla Deewana, I said I am not going to do it. So, Bobby spoke about it [in the film].  

Your image as a macho man never changed over the years no matter how many love stories or comedies you did.

Because somehow nobody seems to be fitting there except me. I wish there was somebody else, so they could leave me from there and I could do something else [laughs]. Somehow it has stuck there and people seem to believe that when I do it [fight scenes], it is really happening.

I wish I was born in the era my dad was there. So, you could do these films also and some other great directors would give you other kind of cinema also, which is what is lacking [now]

He did such variety [of films]. He did Phool Aur Patthar (1966), Satyakaam (1969), Chupke Chupke (1975), Bandini (1963) and Mera Gaon Mera Desh (1971). He had everything. This is because there were such subjects then. It is the story that gives an actor the capability to come across that image. If there is no story, they can’t come across it. 

Like Tom Hanks did in Sully (2016). It’s a true character. But when we are playing a real character it becomes something like Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2013). We don’t get into the character of Milkha Singh. We are more interested in making his body, how we are running and what the camerawork is going to be. We are not getting into the essence of the character. There are so many things our writers and directors don’t believe in. We are not getting into the soul of it [the characters]

Do you think the old era will come back?

I don’t think it’s going to come back. It won’t until and unless we get the essence of it. Like I did Ghatak (1996). I was playing that guy from Benares. It wasn’t Sunny Deol; it was that character.