Sunny Deol wants Gadar- Ek Prem Katha to re-release as he gears up for Chup: Revenge of The Artist
Gadar- Ek Prem Katha was a mammoth post-Partition melodrama, where Sunny Deol sets off across the border to bring his wife Ameesha Patel back from Pakistan. The actor spoke about how the film should re-release while promoting his next, Chup: Revenge of The Artist.
Recently, while promoting his new film Chup: Revenge Of The Artist, Sunny Deol expressed his opinion on his most successful film to date, Gadar- Ek Prem Katha, which is one of Indian cinema’s biggest money-spinners of all time.
Sunny feels that the film should be re-released so that today’s generations would know what its success was all about.
Unfortunately, its success got eclipsed by an unforeseen circumstance. Ashutosh Gowariker’s Lagaan and Anil Sharma’s Gadar- Ek Prem Katha released on the same Friday, June 15, 2001. Both became historic hits. Two blockbusters on the same Friday is not unknown. Sholay and Jai Santoshi Maa released on the same Friday in 1975. Both created history. Manoj Kumar’s Roti Kapda Aur Makaan and Manmohan Desai’s Roti were released on same Friday. They were both blockbusters. Much later, Indra Kumar’s Dil and Raj Kumar Santoshi’s Ghayal were hits on the same Friday.
Karan Johar’s Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and David Dhawan’s Bade Miyan Chote Miyan released on 16th October 1998, and both were big hits. But nothing like Lagaan and Gadar- Ek Prem Katha, which are among the biggest successes in the history of Indian cinema. Anil Sharma claims his film was a bigger success. He claims Gadar had made Rs. 200 crores years ago when the concept of the 100-crore club was unknown.
Gadar- Ek Prem Katha was a mammoth post-Partition melodrama, where Sunny Deol sets off across the border to bring his wife Ameesha Patel back from Pakistan. The film’s passionate patriotism made it one of the biggest box office successes in the history of Bollywood. It was inspired by a 1999 superhit Punjabi film Shaheed-e-Mohabbat Boota Singh, where singer-actor Gurdas Maan trudges across the border to get his wife Divya Dutta back. The film broke all records in Punjab.
Anil Sharma told the same story in Gadar with some cosmetic changes. Was Sunny Deol the first and only choice to play Tara Singh in Gadar? Apparently, director Anil Sharma had narrated the story to Govinda during the shooting of Maharaja. But Govinda found the plot too daunting.
Was Ameesha Patel the first choice to play Sakeena, Tara Singh’s estranged better-half? Anil Sharma was in extended talks with Kajol for Sakeena. Ameesha told me she had the privilege of auditioning for both Gadar and Lagaan. When she was shooting in New Zealand for Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai, she got to know that Lagaan’s director Ashutosh Gowariker had rejected her because, according to him, her eyes looked too intelligent and educated to play the village belle. Ironically, she was selected for Gadar for the same reasons that she was rejected for Lagaan. They wanted someone who looked intelligent and educated.
Gadar raked in more than Rs 200 crores during its first run. It continues to be one of the top money-spinners of all times, leaving its Friday rival Lagaan behind in terms of box-office success. Lagaan did get more critical acclaim. But Gadar was the winner at the box-office.
There are many instances of history wrongly judging a film. When Ramesh Sippy’s Sholay had opened, critics denounced it, in one voice labeling it as a poor copy of Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. Lagaan received all the acclaim that it deserved. But Gadar deserved more.
Subhash K Jha is a Patna-based film critic who has been writing about Bollywood for long enough to know the industry inside out. He tweets at @SubhashK_Jha.
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