Sunny Gaze

14 Apr

Will it change your perception of me forever if I confess I am fond of several Sunny Deol movies? Alas, blog reader, it is true! There comes a time when coolth must bow its head when confronted by truth and the reality is: long before he devolved into a punchline for fatty hands, the man was one of the few things that made 80s Bollywood tolerable.

Here are seven movies of the early Sunny Deol that will leave you wondering, “Jeez, whatever happened to that guy?” To answer which question you will need to watch the three 90s movies that complete my Sunny Deol Top Ten and take him closer by the inexorable inch to his Shouty Noughty years: Ghayal (1990), Border (1997), and that very odd duck, Arjun Pandit (1999).

Runners up Damini (1993) being more of a Meenakshi Seshadri vehicle as someone pointed out earlier and Darr (1993) being a Shahrukh Khan movie through and through.

Betaab (1983) – Like all star sons, from Rishi Kapoor to Ranbir Kapoor, Sunny Deol too got his start in Bollywood with a story about star-crossed lovers. I don’t particularly care for this sort of thing (sorry romantics, but Romeo and Juliet is my least favorite play) but it’s still charming to see future iron bar chewers Deol and Amrita Singh coo at each other with all the awkward innocence of young love while Shammi Kapoor thunders in the background. Aww. My heart – it is warmed. Especially with that great RD Burman soundtrack which was my introduction to it.

Sunny (1984) – I didn’t see this movie for the longest time, although I heard its songs ad nauseam growing up, and when I did, I have to say, it wasn’t the movie itself that stuck with me. Deol plays the titular role, the illegitimate son of a man so obsessed with making babies (Dharmendra), he cheats on his unspeakably lovely wife (Waheeda Rehman) with a courtesan (Sharmila Tagore). After the man’s plane goes up in flames (good!), his wife steals Sunny from his mother as an act of revenge (whut?!). All very interesting but I want to know what happened backstage. How fucking awkward were the production meetings on this thing? And if they weren’t – that’s even more weird! Show biz. I do not understand it.

Oh, and check out his orange T! That’s what I’m talking about! 25 years later! Jeebus.

Arjun (1985) – It’s not fair to call this a jazzed up version of Gulzar’s Mere Apne, but it’s definitely a more mainstream version of the same story: educated, unemployed young men who turn to violence as the answer to society’s problems and find that they’ve got a snake by its tail. Not for the violence wary.

Yateem (1988) – There’s a great deal about this movie, especially its second half, that’s schlocky and painfully 80s. But there’s also a bunch of character stuff that never fails to blow my mind. Deol is the orphan in question, the offspring of a notorious dacoit who is brought up to be a responsible citizen by the police officer (Khulbhushan Kharbanda) who killed his father. He obviously falls for his childhood sweetheart, Kharbanda’s motherless daughter (Farha), who has the distinction of being the only heroine I’ve ever seen in Indian cinema who confides in her lover about her menstruation. And it is incredibly charming! And a brilliant piece of character work! Throw in a horny young Evil Stepmother (Sujata Mehta) and Danny Denzongpa and you see why Deol’s still sticking by JP Dutta’s side.

Ram Avtaar (1988) – My first Sunny Deol movie. That song above? My very first memory of what he looked like. I saw it because it had Sridevi in it and I’d watch anything with her in it when I was a kid. So if you want to blame anyone for this post, you know where to send your letters. She started it all! A reworked Sangam with less annoying actors (co-stars the PPCC’s favorite Anil “WAHEYYY!” Kapoor in all his hirsute glory) and less memorable music.

Tridev (1989) – When I think of the 80s, this is the movie that comes to mind. It makes me want to forgive that decade for being so rapey, so louche, so bloody, so all around bleach-in-the-eyes-tastic. Tridev has some kind of vaguely epic story about good and evil, cowboys and dacoits, whatever – but look! It’s girls in shiny turbans and lame and techno music and Naseeruddin Shah having a fun old time sending up the very concept of Hindi film herodom. And Madhuri in her prime salwar kameez and midi period. So fresh! So innocent!

Chaalbaaz (1989) – Yes, Seeta and Geeta was better. But look, it’s Sridevi kicking ass and getting drunk with Sunny Deol and Rajnikanth. What kind of horrible person turns their nose up at this? Boo to you!


Posted by on April 14, 2010 in Celebrity, Entertainment, Movies, Review, Video


22 responses to “Sunny Gaze

  1. Savvy

    April 14, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    Well. . .ahem. . ahem. . do u still like ‘Papa’s Boy’ ? Ok i agree that decades ago he was one of the handsome hunks of bollywood, but certainly not now. He may have in his closet a few good films, but the films he later did, kinda smashed his cool image. . However i’ll agree with u at any time that he was far better than his siblings. .
    And he got some epic dialogs – “Balwant Rai k kutton”, “Yeh Dhai Kilo ka hath jab padta hai to aadmi uthta nahi, uth jata hai”.
    Ok. . . That’s creepy i think i kinda like Sunny too. . 😉

  2. Beth

    April 14, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    So for someone who has only seen…um…Jeet? could that possibly be all?…would you count most of these as acceptable starter films?

  3. Gradwolf

    April 14, 2010 at 11:03 pm

    Err, of late am plugging too many of these Tamil remakes, no? Sorry 😛

    So, watch Kamal’s Satya, an infinitely better reworking of Arjun. One of Kamal’s best.

    Damini should really be up there!

  4. Banno

    April 15, 2010 at 2:20 am

    Hmm, only ‘Chaalbaaz’ for me, I’m afraid. Though I do love that paanch-kilo ka haath. There’s something so wounded about Sunny that is quite appealing, it makes him very real. Sadly, he cannot ACT. 🙂

  5. Vidooshak

    April 15, 2010 at 7:13 am

    Loved the nostalgia. Hurrah for the 80s. Our best decade in movies. They never had it like that before or since, no? To think that’s what we grew up on.. brrrrr


    Waiting for an Anil Kapoor fan to do a similar post. And then an Anita Raj fan. And a Neelam fan. And a….

  6. M

    April 15, 2010 at 11:53 am

    Gah! Sunny Deol in any shape or form – actually Any Deol except Dharam, in any shape or form makes me run for the hills.

    LOL on the production meetings of Sunny – wonder what Sunny makes of the storyline?

    And Betaab – the bane of my high school years! The music (in the days when EVERY public place played the songs at top volume), the clothes (Oh Lord the clothes – and my mother deciding that I needed to be fashionable-a-la-Betaab) – am *still* scarred! 🙂

  7. Never Mind

    April 15, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    Weird, that I’ve liked most of the movies you mention but never thought of them as Sunny D’s movies. Maybe its my in-built aversion to anyone who bashes up bad guys a minute and gets jiggy with the ladies the next. Sorry!

  8. harini calamur

    April 15, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    nice list- but damini was sunny’s film – i could never for the life of me figure why Meenakshi would prefer Rishi to Sunny 🙂

    there was also ghatak — there were the screaming moments, but also the absolutely lovely restrained bits – remember him being consoled by amrish puri – about the cancer ?

    and remember lootere ?

  9. memsaab

    April 15, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    I just can’t forgive him for Jaani Dushman: Ek Anokhi Kahani, much like I cannot forgive Tom Hanks for Forrest Gump 🙂

  10. Veena

    April 15, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    I am very impressed that you actually came up with 10 watchable movies of the Punjab da puttar, jr! The hotness genes from the Punjab da puttar, sr. seem to have gone missing in the next generation….:)

  11. Shalini

    April 15, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    The Chaalbaaz song is ghastly from a purely musical perspective, but what a witty picturization. Sridevi really was awesome.

    As for Sunny, my favorite song involving him is the utterly gorgeous “dekho yeh kaun aaya” from Savere Wali Gadi.

  12. Beth

    April 15, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    Oho Memsaab reminds me – I have suffered through Jaani Dushman too!

  13. Rahul

    April 16, 2010 at 10:28 am

    Beofre Raj. K Santoshi took over,Rahul Rawail was the Prakash Mehra to Sunny D’s Amitabh Bachchan.All their collaborations are watchable and better than the typical Masala movie.
    Have you seen Dacait? Its also okay. The one movie I haven’t seen from that era is Samundar.

  14. munimma

    April 16, 2010 at 10:46 am

    oh yes, Sridevi! I too, kind of embarrassed to say this, liked Sunny D of yore. Never was a dharam fan. Do you remember Narasimha?
    Chaalbaaz – loved it at that time, betaab for the songs and also may be because next to A.S., he looked divine.
    Wasn’t there a laila majnuish movie around that time?

    The more he yelled, the more he waned in my perspective. Of late, except for Abhay, none of the Deols are tolerable IMHO.

  15. Rahul

    April 16, 2010 at 10:58 am

    munimma, the “laila majnuish” movie would be sohni mahiwal. Great music!

  16. munimma

    April 16, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    That’s right, sohni mahiwal. Remember it mainly for the songs. Although don’t remember the actual songs.

  17. Srinivas

    April 16, 2010 at 3:03 pm mention of Dacait here..definitely one of his better movies. But then Raakhee’s “Nacho Re Nacho” scene is the stuff of nightmares.

    And that Arjun Pandit was one big surprise. Damini was just terrible..:)

  18. β-ab

    April 16, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    Oooh, Betaab reminds me of that colossal tantrum I threw in third grade, when dad and mom took off to catch the 7 ‘0’ clock show minus me! (Think the reason they gave sounded so wrong — like a midterm test that I had to take the next day or something.) 😀 Heard the lovely songs on Chitrahaar several times, but never got around to (forgiving my folks for failing me or) catching the movie since. But mom still raves about Amrita Singh in it.

    And Border, I remember seeing in one of those sprawling cinema halls in Hazratganj, with friends from college (a bunch of us lived and worked in Lucknow, as interns, and had an absolute blast during weekends, eating nawabhi khaana at the local restaurants (food was all kinds of awesomes!), catching a movie afterward, then bundling into a phat-phati to head home in the wee hours, begging the security guy at the Aliganj staff quarters where we were boarding, to let us in — best time of my life!).

    What memories thou hath wrought, Amrita! 😛

    p.s: For a second there, I thought — upon reading the title — the Sunny that you were looking back at was the Boney-M hit from the 80s, sigh. (You did mention early on that you never got around to listening to that band.)

  19. Amrita

    April 17, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    Savvy – well, not now that he’s got chubby hands :mrgreen:

    Beth – yes? 😀 Knowing you, I’d say start with Tridev and work your way up. Arjun Pandit is sort of allied with Jeet in my mind so either avoid or watch according to what impression it left on you.

    Adithya – nahin, nahin, the more the merrier! Esp if its the early Kamal!

    Banno – I was shocked to read a recent interview in which he casually mentioned some kind of acting school he attended in London. Who knew?!

    Viddoshak – argh, don’t give me ideas!

    M – ROFL! I never thought about it, but yeah, I guess Amrita Singh would have been all sorts of fashion forward for those times. God, poor you!

    NM – hahahha, a rose by any other name, my dear!

    Harini – ha, yes, Lootere! I remember it primarily for Juhi. My cousin had a humongous crush on her and would make me watch everything she was in!

    Memsaab – damn, you must really hate Tom Hanks if you just compared FG to JD :mrgreen:

    Veena – ahem: Abhay Deol! He’s a revolution… in your pants! 😀

    Shalini – never saw it! Thanks! Is the movie any good?

    Rahul – I have seen Dacait (my cablewallah had a thing for daku movies in addition to all his other foibles) but I honestly can’t remember a thing about it. It just disappears into this huge soup of daku movies. No Samundar either. I have some fond memories of Sultanat but that has to do with the opposite of “good movie”.

    Munimma – Hee. I love the early Dharam right up to the mid 70s. Then the booze caught up with him and blah. I always maintained that Dharam’s talent skipped the direct line and went to Abhay but then the other day I was listening to Betaab and… well, truth will out 😳 Sohni Mahiwal was terrible!

    Srinivas – for the life of me, I can’t remember a thing about Dacait. I know I’ve seen it but I can’t remember it. 😦 And yeah – Arjun Pandit! Wtf, right? It should win an award for Movie Most Likely to Make You Doubt Your Taste! 😛

    Bab – hahaha! Well, if you ever want to reconnect with your 80s self, Betaab will do it. In fact, it, Love Story and Rocky are my three fave star son debuts. SO CHEESY! So great.

  20. Rahul

    April 17, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    I second a write up on Anil Kapoor gems like Chameli Ki Shadi, Saheb,Mohabbat etc.
    Shalini, Why don’t you like that song? I found the prelude interesting.Pyarelal was in great form in this movie , with great arrangement in “Na jane kaha se” as well.
    Amrita, the Rakhi scene that Srinivas mentions is hard to forget, so I wonder.Her character is probably the craziest dacait mother ever.

  21. bollywoodeewana

    April 18, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    Thanks for this Amrita, i j’adore Sunny as well, he was definitely a hottie in the 80’s (see a cute cover of him in the link below)

    glad to see you giving the 80’s some love as bad as its regarded,i tend to think the 90’s as a much worse decade than the 80’s. On sridevi i just reviewed Himmatwala which is said to have made her a supersatr in the hindi film industry, have you seen it,share your thoughts with me on it

  22. ajnabi

    April 20, 2010 at 7:41 pm

    Er… I loved him in The Hero: Love Story of a Spy. I mean, that was Sunny, wasn’t it? (You can tell I haven’t endured too many Deol films.) I have to confess that Preity being in the film might’ve played a large role in my enjoyment.

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