I am discovering a new self with Ghayal Once Again: Sunny Deol
The last couple of years may not have been professionally anything spectacular for Sunny Deol, but nothing can deter him from moving forward. The shy actor and filmmaker, who reprises the role of angry gent, Ajay Mehra, in Ghayal Once Again, gets candid about his forthcoming film
What was the reason for such a long absence from the silver screen (his last proper release was Yamla Pagla Deewana 2 in 2013)?
There are several reasons for the long absence from the movies. One, I wasn’t getting any good scripts. Two, the films I did got delayed. And, third, with multinationals coming in the concept of a film’s success was based on excel sheets… So there were multiple reasons I was away.
Why did you decide to write and direct Ghayal Once Again?
The writers weren’t coming up with a screenplay I wanted and the directors weren’t coming up with anything new. So, that’s how I decided to rediscover myself and make the film myself.
Was there any current instance or instances that inspired you for the story of Ghayal Once Again?
What inspired me to do this film is my own understanding of where I was going wrong. When I entered the industry I did cinema that I enjoyed and people loved me in it. During that time, Amitji (Amitabh Bachchan), my Dad (Dharmendra), Vinod Khanna were doing a certain kind of films, and I tried to do something that was relevant to me, which worked. But somewhere over due course of time I became a victim of the image that was put on to me and the subjects offered to me revolved around the image. I continued doing it for a while. And that’s what made me realise that I am going wrong. So, I decided to make a film that is relevant to the current times and bring Ajay Mehra (his character from Ghayal), who represented the youth of 1990, and put him in a social situation revolving around young impressionable teens of 17-18.
Was it difficult to act and direct at the same time? Of course, you have acted, directed and produced Dillagi but that was in 1999.
It does get difficult (to act and direct), but I had a very good team that guided me when I was acting. What was most difficult was to go back and see myself on the monitor. Most of the times I would avoid the monitors.
One hears you went through great lengths to find the right actors for the film. Comment.
I wanted actors to be the characters. So, I auditioned a lot of people from children to seniors. I didn’t go for an established actor for the heck of it, if a known actor suited the character then it was fine. I think getting (new and young) actors helped to make the sequences real and believable.
Since you wrote the film yourself was it easier to understand your character and perform better as an actor?
As an actor I love to play the character that is given to me, whether I have written it or someone else has created it. I try to look for that person in me. I believe every human being has all the emotions within himself/herself. They have the goodness, evilness, badness, ugliness and cuteness hidden inside. As an actor it is beautiful that we get to mingle with all these personalities and bring it out. The reason I love being an actor because I get so many different experiences when I do films.
Today’s actors go through elaborate processes to prepare for their roles. In Ghayal Once Again you worked with many new and young actors. What was your experience watching them prepare?
Nowadays, actors do go through a lot of processes. To be very honest, I have never followed one. Acting has been instinctive for me and when I got a character I would always hunt for that person in me and become the character. Then, I would start doing things in the scenes and magically everything would fall in place. I have mostly done things like that. Now people do a lot of research but I don’t know… Maybe that’s the way they (today’s actors) function.
Even the way action is choreographed and shot has changed and become safe. Can you throw light on the kind of action incorporated in Ghayal Once Again?
Doing action sequences has become safer and simpler now. Unfortunately, when we started off we didn’t have safety nets; action was violent – we were jumping off buildings, riding recklessly, which is the reason I became a victim of a back problem. But, while you can do anything with the help of technology, action has to be believable. That’s what I have tried to do in Ghayal Once Again. I got action co-ordinator from Hollywood, Dan Bradley, who has worked on the Bourne series, Spider Man, etc. He is known for realistic action. So, I have brought around sequences that look terrifying yet real.
Film-making has evolved drastically since the time you started. Have you tried to adapt the new ways of the industry?
I saw great success from 2001 to 2003, then I couldn’t see that kind of success because films and film-making was changing. Neither could I adapt myself nor could I find directors who wanted to work with me. So, I guess somewhere I got lost and that is the reason I became a director again as I wanted to reinvent myself and be the way I see myself. I always like to do things with confidence because that is the only way to move ahead.
Today, movies are all about numbers and content has taken a backseat. Comment.
We can’t blame any one person for it. But yes somehow marketing has taken the front seat and creativity has gone out of the window. So, that is a prime reason for the number game. But it has challenged me to put myself in this kind of creative world. On a couple of occasions I noticed that my films haven’t been successful because I wasn’t upfront to promote it. That is something I am learning and enjoying it. When I go on all these shows I tell myself not to worry about making mistakes, I just have to be there and have fun. I am discovering my new self with this film.
You have played many intense roles in your long-standing career. Which has been the most draining?
Quite a lot, I think I felt drained out a lot during Damini, Ghayal, but it turned out well. Of recent times Mohalla Assi, which is yet to release, was draining but I enjoyed doing it. But when you are working on it you are so indulged in it that you don’t realise.