Sunny Deol: 'Because of my image, people have the wrong perception about me'
Would you believe Sunny Deol is now a new person? Vocal and outspoken without a trace of the reticent and introverted superstar of the 80s and 90s.
The actor is now social media savvy, albeit he uses it only to reach his fans; he doesn’t shy away from speaking his mind, or cracking jokes on himself, or even taking on an unorthodox and unconventional subject like vasectomy in his upcoming comedy drama, Poster Boys.
The film, which hits the screens on 8 September, also marks the directorial debut of Shreyas Talpade and is a remake of his 2014 Marathi production of the same name. “I loved the idea of three people from different backgrounds falsely implicated for Nasbandi (vasectomy). The situations were quite interesting, and if I like something spontaneously then I always do it. I heard that Shreyas was already planning to make it in Hindi. I was aware of Shreyas’s talent since we had worked together in Bhaiyyaji Superhit and therefore asked him to direct the Hindi one.”
But one wonders why Sunny himself didn’t direct, as he has already directed couple of films like Dillagi (1999) and Ghayal Once Again (2016).
“I was already working on my son Karan’s film, Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas, I can’t be doing so many things,” says Sunny, when we caught up with him in Juhu, Mumbai. Dressed in a military green shirt, light blue jeans and sneakers, the 60-year-old son of yesteryear actor Dharmendra, undoubtedly looks like he is at his healthiest best. He seems to be in a great mood and guffaws at various instances.
While talking about shedding his 'image', Sunny winks and says with tongue firmly in cheek, “I have gotten so used to these film promotions because that is part of your scripting (laughs out loud). One has understood it. We have to do all this otherwise people don’t notice you with there being so much noise all around you.”
Sunny has undoubtedly been more popular than some of his contemporaries, with quite a few huge blockbusters and highest-grossers like Gadar, Border, Ghayal, Tridev under his belt. Yet somehow, he has been much less visible while his contemporaries like Anil Kapoor, Sanjay Dutt, Jackie Shroff, Mithun Chakraborty are seen in a variety of projects on the silver screen and television.
Is it Sunny’s insistence on playing only the central character that is responsible for this? The actor dismisses that he has been resisting character roles, saying, “No, nothing like that. Doing character roles is certainly not an issue for me. Damini was a character role but it turned out to be as important as the central character which people still talk about. I want to do characters that I enjoying playing and not just for the heck of it. Also, because of my image people have such a wrong perception about me (laughs out loud). But I don’t want to give them any explanation, I am not bothered about it. Why should I bother? They assume that I won’t do it and that I am very difficult. That doesn’t stop me from doing what I want to do.”
He continues, “I don’t do television or ads, hence I am not seen at all if I am not seen in movies. Even in the 90s, I wouldn’t do other stuff. I wouldn’t go for parties or functions and that has been my nature. I joined the industry to be an actor and that is what I am doing. Once your films start doing well, you become a star and people want to see more of you but basically I want to do good acting and play good characters.”
Our conversation now veers towards the launch of his elder son Karan in Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas. In one chance meeting with Karan, three years ago, this writer had asked him the genre he is best suited to. Karan responded, displaying amazing wit, "Besides films and acting, the Deols have carried on the lineage of short temper. All of us at home are short-tempered people. So, obviously, it has to be action roles."
Sunny has a hearty laugh at this and says, “It is not true, we Deols are not only into action roles, but maybe because others can’t do action well and hence our name is leading in that genre,” he laughs. So what advice does he give Karan? “I don’t give him any advice. He has to work hard, be honest to his profession and love and enjoy what he does,” says Sunny.
With the recent bunch of films with big stars proving to be duds at the box office, Sunny attributes it to the changing audience and lack of good writing and content. “I haven’t seen much of the current lot of films, I can’t comment, but I get a feeling that content wise, the depth of directors, and depth of characters is getting really frivolous. Hits and flops are part of the game and this is the correction period,” he says.
Though reviews and criticisms do matter to Sunny, he would still want to go by his own strong conviction. “If a review is nice, it matters; if it is bad, it matters. If you accept good, you accept bad as well. I know when I have done good or bad. You should know what you are doing. The day I come to that point and it happens to me then I don’t think I would want to act, I will quit acting,” he says.