Today is Sunny Deol’s birthday. So check out this interview from Filmfare Oct 2001 where he talks about the success of Gadar, regretting doing Yash Chopra’s Darr and Rajkumar Santoshi not being his friend.
It’s raining smiles at the Deol household. In the wake of Gadar-Ek Prem Katha, papa Dharmendra can’t stop gushing about his son, “He’s been such a good boy. I’m happy that his hard work has been acknowledged finally.” Bobby D. exults simply, “My brother is the best.” Chez the Deols, Sunny D’ssons Karan and Rajveer throw punches in
the air. The man of the moment is oblivious to all the praise though. Producers, directors and sundry industry types pour in pell-mell. Inveigling Sunny Deol to assent to an interview is as daunting as root canal surgery. My interminable hours of waiting for Godot finally pay off. Before leaving for Hyderabad, where he’s scheduled to shoot for Guddu Dhanoa’s Gandhi, he finaly relents to a chit-o-chat. Accuse him of throwing attitude and he says disarmingly, “I’m not being inaccessible or difficult. I’m just too busy.” Ulp, uh, okay. I toss up my first query:
The industry is finally touting you as the numero uno. Do you feel vindicated?
I’m thrilled with the appreciation. I’m sure many of my detractors must be disappointed that my career hasn’t been
relegated to the backburner. This is the beginning of a new innings.
(Laughs) Fortunately, I didn’t have to do drugs to become a national hero. My patriotism has worked instead. In any case, none of us Deols has been into this number game, we’ve believed in doing our work sincerely and that’s it.
I didn’t have to do drugs to become a national hero
Do you wish Gadar had happened earlier?
Look, Gadar isn’t the first hit of my career. I’ve had hits earlier though they weren’t such huge blockbusters. Hits and flops have been a part of my career graph. Of course, there’s something very special about such a big hit after being in the business for 18 years. That proves I’m still growing in this field. Can any of my colleagues boast of such an achievement?
For years, trade pundits have been predicting that it’s the age of the bubble gum heroes. If that’s true, then how come Aamir Khan and I’ve given such big hits at this stage of our careers?
Were you upset about the controversy which surrounded Gadar on its release?
Of course, I was upset. The story was set during the Partition but there was no intention to hurt anyone’s feelings
or stir up trouble. The two main protagonists are very pure and innocent. Those who thought the film projected an anti-national stance… those who insisted that we were out to hurt religious sentiments… have warped minds.
I’m a mature man. I’d never do a thing to hurt anyone’s religious sentiments. My grandparents witnessed the Partition, I’m aware of what happened. I’d never want such a holocaust to be repeated ever again.
Even the liberal-minded Shabana Azmi wasn’t too happy with what was portrayed.
Shabana Azmi’s comments really disappointed me. She’s supposed to be educated and well-read and then she goes ahead and makes inflammatory statements against the film. Those who made a noise about the film were only trying to be in the news. The success of Gadar proves that there wasn’t anything wrong with it… its public acceptance has shut up everyone who had anything negative to say about it.
I don’t charge Rs 5 crores. I charge Rs 15 crores. Ha, ha, ha
How has the industry, especially your colleagues, reacted to your success?
Among my colleagues, only Sanjay Dutt has called me up. He was genuinely happy for me. I was very touched by his
gesture. Sanju and I’ve gone through a very similar career graph. We have a mutual admiration society going on.
My other colleagues mustn’t have exactly popped champagne bottles on hearing about my success. (Smiles) Many of them must have turned green with envy.
Sunny DeolOnce you did score a hat-trick of hits—Jeet, Ziddi and Ghatak. What went wrong after that?
Actually, it was four hits. You forgot Border. After the high, there was a low phase and I had to deal with it. I
really can’t pinpoint what went wrong. I guess, I got busy with Dillagi.
Do you regard Dillagi as a personal failure?
I was disappointed but not devastated. All through the making of the film, I was confident it would do reasonably well. To date, I haven’t been able to figure out what went wrong. The few people who saw the film, liked it. Maybe I wasn’t going through a good period then. Anyway, I haven’t let the Dillagi experience bog me down. I’ll definitely direct another film some day.
Do you think the film failed because love stories and you don’t seem to go together?
Maybe. Gadar is a love story too, but with plenty of high drama and action. I guess my macho image is very strong.
People like watching me doing the dhishum-dhishum stuff.
I’ll never work with Yash Chopra again. He isn’t a man of his words. He betrayed my faith in him
So many friends who’d deserted you seem to have rediscoverd you now.
(Laughs) True! After Dillagi, there was chaos all around. It was more than I could handle. I was shocked by the
insensitive attitude of the people around me. Even though I’d seen such rotten behaviour before, I just couldn’t handle it all over again. It was terrible. Somehow, I converted all the negative vibes around me into positive energy. My strategy has worked, all those fair-weather friends are back again. My genuine friends have stood by me
Rumour has it that you’re now demanding Rs 5 crores for a film. True?
Who on earth said it’s Rs 5 crores? I thought I was asking for 15 crores! Ha, ha, ha. Jokes aside, now I wish
producers would shell out Rs 5 crores. The rumour’s absurd. Being a producer myself, I know how the economics work. I ask for what I deserve. Hits and flops have never been the criteria for my price.
Whatever made you accept films like Farz and Champion?
Both the films had promising subjects. I can’t be blamed for the way they eventually shaped up. Still, both the
films did reasonable buisness. They weren’t disasters.
At times, you seem to have backed the wrong directors.
I believed in working with young directors and also directors who’re not doing too well… because I’ve had faith in
them. I’ve always taken risks. At times, they’ve paid off… at times, they haven’t. I’ll continue to take risks. There are no guarantees in this business. Today, my career is where it should be, I’ve no regrets at all.
Aren’t you a lousy judge of people?
I take people at face value. I refuse to be judgemental about anyone. My experiences haven’t made me bitter.
Can you forgive and forget?
It’s been very easy for me to forgive those who’ve been genuinely sorry about hurting me. As for those who haven’t
been sorry, I’ve already forgotten them.
Would you work with Yash Chopra again?
I’ll never work with Yash Chopra again. He isn’t a man of his words. I don’t have good memories about him, he betrayed
my faith in him.
What about Rajkumar Santoshi?
We may or may not work together again. I can’t predict the future. There’s nothing on the cards right now.
According to Rajkumar Santoshi, you backed out of Lajja
although your costumes were already made. True?
Ummm, this is a new one. He didn’t even meet my designer. So how could my costumes have been ready? I was excited
about doing Lajja but please ask Mr Santoshi why he threw me out. As far as I know, the dates and remuneration had nothing to do with my exit from Lajja.
Couldn’t the problem have been sorted out, considering the fact that the two of you are friends?
Rajkumar Santoshi is not my friend, he never was. I gave him a break as a director. Nothing more, nothing less.
Okay, okay why is dancing by stars on stage such a big crime as you’ve said time and again?
Only mujrawallis dance at weddings, not actors. I think actors should maintain their dignity. Dancing at a friend’s
wedding is okay, but getting paid to dance is cheap.
Rajkumar Santoshi is not my friend, he never was. I gave him a break as a director. Nothing more, nothing less
But isn’t this much better than borrowing money from the market?
Ha! Next, you’ll ask me–isn’t prostitution better than borrowing money from the market? I don’t agree with this
kind of logic.
Why do you keep insisting that haven’t got your dues from the media?
There’s lot of favouritism in the media. Just because I haven’t sucked up to certain egos, I’ve been sidelined. Actors
who’re not doing well are still being touted as number ones only because they’re nice to important journalists.
I believed I had a few friends in the media. But they turned their backs on me when I was going through trying times. That’s okay by me. Somewhere down the line, I still consider them my friends. Even though they weren’t there for me when I needed them, I’ll always be there for them.
Why this persecution complex?
It’s not a persecution complex. I understand I’m not media savvy but Bobby’s got journo friends everywhere. Yet he
hasn’t been projected in the right way. Not one of his journo friends has written about his hits. Do you know Badal and Bichchoo have done as much business in the North as Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai? But Bobs never got a fair write-up. I feel the media has something against us… but I don’t know what.
Linking me to Amisha Patel is like linking me to Wall’s ice cream
In an interview, Amisha Patel has stated, “Linking me with Sunny is like linking me to a wall.”
Did she really say that? (Laughs) Well linking me to Amisha is like linking me to Wall’s ice cream. How’s that for a
retort? Honestly, Amisha’s a nice girl and extremely talented. We got along well but that’s all. There’s neither smoke nor fire here.
How does your wife react when girls drool all over you?
Where, where, where are the girls? I’m sure she’s okay with my female fans. Pooja has been an excellent wife. She’s been extremely understanding about my profession. She’s been my strength in my dark moments. It’s not been easy for her but she has never complained. We’ve known each other for over 20 years and our relationship is just perfect today.
Are your sons aware of your stardom?
My sons are not in awe of me. They treat me like a normal father. When Bobs and I were kids, we didn’t know the
magnitude of our dad’s popularity.
If you were to restart your career, which mistakes would you avoid?
Darr. The making of the film was the worst experience of my life. I was sick of the manipulations and lies. One day in
Switzerland, I was so angry that when I stuffed my hands into the pockets, I ripped the jeans I was wearing.
Do you have something against Shah Rukh Khan and Anil Kapoor?
I’ve enjoyed working with Sanju, Jackie and Sunil… I guess that answers your question. It’s not as if I’d never work
with Anil or Shah Rukh again. I’ve worked with them, I know what they’re capable of. The next time around I’ll be more careful.
What after Gadar?
There’s Indian which is a safe film, it’ll do well. I’m not signing films indiscriminately. I want to be careful.
Are you making Shaheed Bhagat Singh?
I’m producing the movie and Guddu Dhanoa will direct it. Bobby will play the title role. Whether I’ll be part of the
film or not, depends on the way the script finally shapes up. I’m aware that the media’s already writing that I’m playing the role of Chandrashekhar Azad even though I’m 40… while he was just 26 when he died. They don’t understand that age doesn’t matter when you portray a character. If age is the criterion while casting, no hero should play a college student.
Any last words?
Hmmm. Only that I believe in myself. I’ve never allowed depression to get the better of me. I’ve worked very hard