Whenever you hear the word Sunny Deol the first thing that comes to your mind is his 'dhai kilo ka haath'. But when you meet him in person, you realize that he is so unlike his on-screen avatar in real life.
As we settle down for a chat with him, we come across him as a shy and reserved person but one who speaks his mind. With his directorial 'Ghayal Once Again' hitting the silver screens this week, Sunny talks about why he decided to direct this film, his equation with Salman Khan and much more.
Excerpts from the conversation-
Was it difficult for you now to direct a film after so many years?
Obviously it is because whenever you direct a film there will be easiness and difficulties about it because every genre has a way of narrating it. So the technologies and the things you use will be relevant which I wanted for this genre of film. The next film which I am making is my son's film that's going to be a romantic one so that genre will be tackled in a very different way.
If we talk about your character, Ajay Mehra in this film, how different is he from the one in your previous 'Ghayal'?
Ajay Mehra in 'Ghayal' was in late 20s that time and he was victimized in the society which was prevalent at that time. The Ajay Mehra of 'Ghayal Once Again' is relevant to today's society.
What took you so long to come up with a sequel?
Earlier no one wanted to make this sequel. Later when people were ready to make it, I didn't get any story which could take the film forward. Also time flies by so quickly that you don't even know. So you don't have a control on time.
You have done so many iconic films with iconic characters. What is that one thing about 'Ghayal' that makes you want to take the film forward with a sequel?
'Ghayal' was a very emotional call for me because when this film's subject came to me, the producer run away. Nobody wanted to make it. Then I was running around with the same story with different producers but nobody wanted to make the film. I was too young at that time to become a producer. But I liked the subject very much. I made this film against all odds and while making it also I had lots of trouble. The film's sensibility and believability was not something that people were ready to accept at that time. However they loved and appreciated it. This gave me the encouragement to believe in myself more.
In the past 10 years or so, before you were considered to be a very big star. But now do you think that you have lost the plot and haven't done more films as compared to earlier?
Ya..it has been. Fortunately I have done some films which were very good and considered to be iconic. That's why I am existing now. People still mouth so many of my dialogues. From the creative point of view, definitely, I am not being able to turn out films which would have been wiser but that is the very reason why I have decided to direct 'Ghayal Once Again'. Because initially also when I did films years back, I always worked with newcomers. However unfortunately after that I never came across anything interesting which would be very relevant to the society or something. So I was left out over there and couldn't get that kind of subjects. And then again the industry went over a change in which somehow I didn't adapt at that moment because the multinationals and all those things started happening then. Suddenly the prices of actors rose to such heights which was unheard of. Everything started rising and I just believed that it is the good work that will take you ahead and that belief had held me back for a long time.
How was it working with Soha Ali Khan?
She is a fine actress. That's why I took her. Every actor who is in this film has been basically literally picked by me as a director. Because if I don't get an actor who can believe in the character and portray it across then I won't be able to narrate my story. So that was my backup before I started doing the film. Soha is portraying the character of a psychiatrist. We call it the heroine's role but it is a role which has got a lot of interesting shades.
What about the scene where she slapped you really hard?
I only had told her to do that to make the scene alive.
There were reports that you are planning to remake Tom Hardy's 'Legend'. What do you have to say about it?
No, it's just somebody who spoke about it. I didn't say that but I didn't get back talking about it because then several speculations will start arising.
You share a warm equation with Salman Khan and you even made an appearance on 'Bigg Boss'. So do we see you working together sometime soon?
See, if a producer comes ahead, it has to have characters which will have to be justifiable to both of us..something which he and I feel that we should be doing it, then I would definitely do it.
How's your relation with Salman now?
I have known him from donkey's years now. He was with me in 'Jeet'. So my basic relation with every actor is very cordial and obviously being a senior there is a little bit of respect.
After this you are working in Neeraj Pathak's 'Bhaiyyaji Superhit' and you have worked him in a film earlier 'Right Or Wrong' which was a very underrated film. Could you say something about that film?
'Right Or Wrong' was an underrated film because there we were defeated because of the PR. The film was released without any promotions.We know how the industry functions. We are nearly halfway through 'Bhaiyyaji Superhitt' so definitely this year we will get to see that film. That character which I am playing there is something which I enjoyed because there are two of me there and it's a little bit wacky film. It's going to be fun. But I really have regrets about my films which again didn't get good PR done. One of them was 'I Love NY'. To me it was an interesting film, it wasn't a teenage film. It was a film where a person in his 40s can fall in love but somehow it tanked at the box office.
Any directors in your wishlist?
I can't say really there is any director I would want to work with because my experience with all the directors have been so much that I actually know what a director is and what isn't. But when I speak all these things people take it the wrong way. But I would rather try out a new director who comes and narrates me a great subject.
Recently Imtiaz Ali said in an interview that he owes his career to you because had you not produced 'Socha Na Tha' he won't have come such a long way. What is your reaction when people compliment you with such things?
First and foremost if somebody has done something and to talk about it and say it as a compliment is like returning a favour. (laughs) So things which are good are good and these days we talk lot. Because definitely by talking about it, people start 'feeling' that whatever we are speaking is true. And I don't think that I would say that everyone says the truth. But then that's very sweet of him. The main thing is basically that I always believe in because that's my policy is, if I have to do something or if I am doing something, it's not because there is some reason. I am doing it because I believe in it and that's the way it should be moving without expecting something out of it.
Like 'Ghayal' is there any other movie character that you would like to take forward?
People have really loved some of my past films. I think there is a kind of hollowness for these kind of characters. 'Ghayal Once Again' is like an acid test for me. If this works for me then definitely I will try and revive something but relevant to the society how it is because then only it would be fun and interesting to see what they would be doing right now if they were there.
Any plans to work with dad and your brother Bobby?
Oh definitely.I really want to do a freaky film with all of us. But more sensible freaky films (smiles) and something where we will not be playing Sardars. (laughs)