That Sunny Deol We Love

You are not to be blamed if Deol is not the first Sunny on your mind these days. It is a pity but no, it isn’t your fault. Think though. This son of the original action hero of Bollywood is pushing 60 and you wouldn’t know it if you weren’t told so.

It is Sunny Deol’s birthday today and believe it, us children of the old school remember the man for more than his angry screams, bashing up all things against Bharat Mata and trampling grass with Karisma Kapoor. We do.

We have grown up on movies we knew would feature an angry Deol but we also knew there would be that unmistakable charming smile and some notable performances that would be beyond all the anger.

As we take a moment and wish joy to Sunny “How-Do-You-Still-Look-the-Same” Deol, we feel it is our duty to remind you, this thrower of hand pumps didn’t win multiple National Awards for nothing.

Here are five films that if you only know Sunny Deol from the late 90s, you would have to pinch yourself to believe it is him in them.

Betaab (1983)

The man arrived in style with this. Sunny Kapoor made the nation go nuts. Imagine a Sunny Deol who is not busy beating up goons, getting real mad. All he wanted to do and did was romance Amrita Singh and sing Jab Hum Jawan Honge.

He even earned a Filmfare Award nomination for the Best Actor with his very first role. Not bad, we say because these were times when Tusshar Kapoor and Fardeen Khan were not winning Best Debut awards.

Arjun (1985)

After a few movies as the romantic lead since his debut, Deol tasted success as an action hero with Arjun. Come to think about it, he has a lot to thank Rahul Rawail for. Rawail directed him in his first movie and then Arjun two years later. The frustrations of an unemployed young man, of someone wronged by the system were delivered in a brilliant performance by Deol as Arjun Malvankar.

Joshilaay (1989)

Haven’t heard of this one, have you? Didn’t think so. This almost-Western written by Javed Akhtar might not feature among the favorites of many but it stayed with me since I first watched Joshilaay. And Sunny Deol deserves a lot of credit for that. Guns, horses, dacoits and believe it or not, Sunny Deol playing a fun-loving, witty prankster called Dara summed up Joshilaay for me. 

Interestingly, Anil Kapoor played a brooding, silent, angry Karan. You can’t make this up.  

Ghayal (1990)

This was it! We lost Deol completely to anger with Ghayal. Yet what a performance! Ghayal marked the directorial debut of Rajkumar Santoshi who brought back the Angry Young Man to Bollywood with Ajay Mehra that also fetched the actor his first National Award.

Santoshi would also make Ghatak and Damini later with Deol. The films in many ways marked the beginning of the end as the actor appeared in movies you couldn’t distinguish from each other. And yet it was probably only Santoshi who was able to keep Deol’s “anger” in check. There was something very humane about the outbursts of an Ajay Mehra in Ghayal, a Govind in Damini or a Kashi Nath in Ghatak

Damini (1993)

This was an important film for the issues it raised, for the solutions it suggested, for the terrific performances by the lead actors. This was Meenakshi Sheshadri’s film for sure. This was also Deol’s who moved everyone with a soul-stirring, another National Award-winning performance as the alcoholic lawyer, Govind.

Be amazed when you know his was a special appearance and not a supporting character and it is for the first time a special appearance overshadowed the protagonist and supporting cast. Today the film is not just about the titular character but about Govind who brought out the "Damini" in Damini.

I’ll believe you if you say you haven’t watched Damini but don’t tell me you haven’t heard the legend of “Dhai kilo ka haath” and “Taareekh pe taareekh”. Yup, this movie!

The happiest birthday to you, Mr. Deol. It would be incredible if you bring back the glory days. We really hope you do.

Watch all that went down when Sunny Deol hung out at the BookMyShow office not too long ago here.

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