Bobby Deol returns to thrillers with Race 3: From Gupt to Humraaz, a look at the actor's films in the genre
With the upcoming film Race 3, actor Bobby Deol is resurrecting his image as Bollywood's go-to thriller actor.
The Deols are, in fact, one of those families who have see varying degrees of success — there's Dharmendra, the ever-lasting superstar, while both Bobby and Sunny saw immense success in the beginning of their career, only for it to slowly trickle down with time.
And now, with the upcoming film Race 3 that stars Salman Khan, Jacqueline Fernandez, Anil Kapoor, Daisy Shah, Saqeeb Salim and Freddy Daruwala, Bobby Deol is touted to resurrect his film career. Here's a comeback (of sorts) that he really needs. Fans of the actor are waiting to see him back in action (quite literally).
But before we jump into Bobby's thrilling filmography, we need to understand the space he comes from.
The Deol lineage
Bobby's father Dharmendra was one of the most popular actors during the 1960s and 70s, known for his good looks and stellar performances in films like Satyakam, Anupama, Chupke Chupke and of course Sholay. Elder brother Sunny Deol emerged as one of Bollywood's biggest action stars; his films were innately loaded with punches, kicks and choke-slams. He has been conferred with the National Film Awards twice for his films Ghayal and Damini, while Gadar: Ek Prem Katha was one of the highest grossing films of Bollywood for a long time.
His cousin Abhay Deol has established himself as a powerhouse performer, with films like Dev.D, Socha Na Tha, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Manorama Six Feet Under, Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! — all of which have been lauded by critics.
Step sister Esha Deol, on the other hand, had the weakest box-office innings. Apart from Dhoom and Yuva, she was in a slew of films that didn't manage to set the cash registers ringing.
Bobby Deol's career is an interesting study. While he debuted in Bollywood with a romantic film Barsaat in 1995 and did a couple of light-hearted romantic flicks like Kareeb and Aur Pyaar Ho Gaya, Deol is most well-known for his thrillers. Bobby has appeared in a string of Bollywood thrillers. While some have worked tremendously well at the box-office, some are forgettable.
Here's a glance at some of his most well-known films — in this particular genre:
Gupt: The Hidden Truth
Every '90s kid would agree that this 1997 film was one of the best Bollywood thrillers of all time. With Bobby, Kajol and Manisha Koirala in the lead, Gupt boasted of a strong story, (relatively) etched-out characters and great music. The climax of this Rajiv Rai directorial came as a major shock — a feat that is so difficult to achieve in Bollywood thrillers even today.
It was the debut of Preity Zinta in Bollywood and another hit thriller in Bobby's career in the '90s. Directed by Abbas-Mustan, who are considered pioneers in thrillers in Bollywood, Soldier featured a brooding Deol, something that became his trademark over time. Soldier also had a popular soundtrack with foot-thumping numbers like 'Tera Rang Balle Balle'.
Loosely based on the 1994 French thriller Léon: The Professional (which was also Academy Award-winner Natalie Portman's debut film), Bichhoo stars Bobby along with Rani Mukerji. This 2000 thriller was the second film with on-screen pair of Bobby and Rani; they were previously seen in Badal, in the same year. Directed by Guddu Dhanoa, the film was reportedly a box-office sleeper hit, but nothing much can be said about Bichhoo apart from the fact that critics weren't very generous.
Yet another Abbas Mustan-directorial, Ajnabee stars Bobby along with Akshay Kumar, Kareena Kapoor and Bipasha Basu. The film's content had an eclectic mix of affairs — wife swapping, cross-country money transfers, plotted marriages that lead to plotted deaths, and a lot of coincidences (remember, how the film stressed on 'ittefaq'?). Bobby was seen in yet another role, like Gupt, where he is wrongfully held culpable of a crime that he never committed in the first place. The whole thrill of the thriller lies in the unravelling of the affairs.
This 2002 Abbas Mustan film was another Hollywood remake (based on 1998's A Perfect Murder) and had a mesh (read: mess) of plots. Starring Bobby along with Akshaye Khanna and Ameesha Patel, Humraaz is listed among the hits of the year it released. The soundtrack, composed by Himesh Reshammiya, also performed well and was one of the most popular ones of the year.
Probably in an effort to break the mould, Bobby was seen in an antagonistic part in this Abbas-Mustan film that released in 2007. If you still can't figure out this film, listen to the song 'Ek Din Teri Raahon Me' (it was a major hit then, and is often listened to even today). Naqaab is also based on the 2003 (Spanish) thriller Dot the i. The Bollywood remake featured Bobby along with his Humraaz co-star Akshaye Khanna, and Urvashi Sharma.
This 2012 film — again directed by Abbas-Mustan — was Bobby's last outing in the thriller genre. An official Indian remake (and we wish we could undo/unsee this) of the 2003 Hollywood blockbuster The Italian Job, this film created quite a stir before its release. Touted to be made on a lavish budget, the film stars a bevy of actors including Abhishek Bachchan, Sonam Kapoor, Bipasha Basu, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Vinod Khanna, Sikander Kher and Omi Vaidya along with Bobby.
Upon its release, the film turned out to be a disaster and a huge creative opportunity wasted. Right from the script, to the actors' performances — everything was panned by the critics; the film was also a commercial failure.
And, after this, Bobby did two films — Yamla Pagla Deewana 2 (in 2013) and Poster Boys (2017) — in five years.
In an interview with Firstpost in 2017, he had explained his absence saying: "The industry let me down but I can’t keep sulking. If work comes my way and people don’t ditch me, I would love to work with dedicated people and with some of the contemporary directors. Abbas Mustan are the only directors I have worked the maximum with. But somehow we have not been able to work together because when you are not in circulation then it is very difficult to get the project on floor."
With Race 3, we hope Bobby finds roaring success.
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