Sunny Deol's journey through Bollywood
His stint as a politician hasn't exactly been a cakewalk. But if his movie career is anything to go by, Sunny Deol is sure to bounce back
Published: Fri 12 Jul 2019, 12:00 AM
Last updated: Fri 19 Jul 2019, 10:42 AM
The Deols - presided over by yesteryear's Ironman Dharmendra - have always led a singularly humble lifestyle in their bungalow on a leafy stretch of Mumbai's famed Juhu-Vile Parle housing colony. Their neighbours are the family of the late movie mogul Yash Chopra, while the residence of Ajay Devgn and Kajol are just a pebble's throw away.
The extended family of Dharmendra has chosen to stay within the age-old bungalow, and if relatives and even strangers from their hometown Phagwara in the Punjab state drop by, they're given a cordial welcome. In fact, even rank strangers aren't turned away by the Deols, who have always worn their humility on their sleeves effortlessly.
Of late, the scenario seems to be going through a perceptible change, though. Dharmendra, at the age of 83, spends a major part of his time at the family farmhouse in the hilltown of Lonavla, a two-hour drive away. Some claim that he is writing up a storm of poems in Urdu; others insist that he's at work on a poetic prose autobiography. Either way, the much-adored veteran has been posting photographs on social media, which show how much he's enjoying his autumn years, growing vegetables and pampering the children of his domestic helps.
Meanwhile, son Bobby Deol - at the age of 50 - has been striving to reboot his career, thanks to Salman Khan, who canvassed for an eye-catching role for him in Race 3 (2018).
It's Dharmendra's eldest son Sunny Deol, though, who at the age of 62, has sprung a totally unexpected surprise by joining the BJP and contesting the general elections from Gurdaspur in Punjab. The late Vinod Khanna had been elected to the Lok Sabha from this constituency. Although Sunny's decision to hop on to the political bandwagon was taken at the last minute, the actor defeated his Congress rival by a cushy margin of over 82,000 votes.
Now the question is: does Sunny Deol have what it takes to be an effective member of parliament? Unless there's a dramatic changeover in his personality, alas, that seems to be a remote possibility. From the outset of his career, commencing with Betaab (1983), he's been reticent and withdrawn, speaking only when he's spoken to. At no point, for instance, has he uttered a single word about his over two-decade-long liaison with Dimple Kapadia.
If he's upset by the Bollywood style of working, he can be implosive. It's only of late that he went on record to disclose that he had kept Shah Rukh Khan at arm's length for years, ever since the Khan stole the show in Yash Chopra's psycho-thriller Darr (1993). Apparently Sunny's role of the hero of the piece was diluted while Shah Rukh Khan's part, with strong shades of grey, had been highlighted. Clearly, the star, who was way more popular than Khan those days, didn't take the slight as just another occupational hazard.
Politics, however, requires the skills of a practised chess player, whose moves are calculated and result-oriented. From a shy guy, can he become a go-getter for the upliftment of his constituency? Even when his father was a Lok Sabha MP of Bikaner in Rajasthan between 2004-'09, the Deol family was under severe stress. Dharmendra, a simpleton by heart, had stated that he had taken on the onus of politics, solely at the behest of the then BJP Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Sunny's innings as an MP has kicked off awkwardly. Reports pointed out that at his swearing-in ceremony, instead of saying "uphold", he said he would "withhold" the sovereignty and integrity of the country. He did correct himself immediately, but was trolled mercilessly on the social media. Perhaps that slip of the tongue is excusable, but his next step certainly demands scrutiny.
Earlier this month, Sunny issued a statement on his official letterhead, that he had appointed his representative Gurpreet Singh, a screenwriter and executive film producer, to attend meetings and follow up on important matters relating to his parliamentary constituency. Backlash from the opposition followed, that this kind of proxying amounted to "a betrayal of the voters' mandate".
To quell what was obviously a faux pas, the actor issued a counterstatement claiming that the representative was a must to ensure that "no work is disrupted or delayed" and that he would be "updated on local issues on a daily basis".
Logically, damage control should be Sunny Deol's priority now, which is feasible if he attends Parliament sessions in New Delhi regularly and makes a full-throated attempt to get his voice and views heard. About the only Bollywood personalities who have been effective in various degrees in Parliament - either as elected MPs or nominated Rajya Sabha members - have been Sunil Dutt, Shatrughan Sinha, Rajesh Khanna, Shabana Azmi, Hema Malini, Jaya Bachchan, Smriti Irani and Javed Akhtar. At the very least, they made their presence felt by articulating their concerns, loud and clear.
To be fair, Sunny Deol's intentions may be well-meaning. Snag: can these be translated into results, given the fact that he already has more on his plate than he can handle? He's been trying to keep the banner of his family production house, Vijayta Films, flying despite the accompanying financial pressures. Next in line is Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas, a launch project for his son Karan, which he is directing. Presumably, with time, he will also introduce his younger son Rajvir as an actor. As for his own acting assignments, these have been reduced drastically: a reunion with Rajkumar Santoshi, who extracted three of his most impactful performances in Ghayal (1990), Damini (1993) and Ghatak (1996), is believed to be in the works.
When it comes to delivering rousing lines of dialogue, Sunny is also remembered to date for his stirring oratory power in Rahul Rawail's Arjun (1985) and Anil Sharma's Gadar: Ek Prem Katha (2001).
Without any prejudice, then, here's hoping that the actor can return to form once again, and do justice to his freshly-scripted role of a politician by, of and for the people.