With ‘Gadar 2’ Still Making Money, Sunny Deol Is India’s Old-New Hero
By Vinod Mirani
MUMBAI- ‘Gadar 2’ Becomes 3rd Highest Grossing Film In Hindi are the latest headlines. Just out of the success of his ‘Gadar 2’, Sunny Deol is grabbing headlines all round. The beeline at his office has started again after almost two decades to sign him up.
After all, heroes like Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgn and Aamir Khan are all knocking on the sixties and have been ruling the roost in the Hindi film industry. Unfortunately, lately, their careers have remained fickle. Consistency is lacking in the box-office outcome of their films.
Just when the filmmakers contemplate giving up on them, they turn up one successful film which gives them another couple of years of career extension. Of course, this success enjoys the added advantage of inflated box-office figures. Let alone the public, but even other filmmakers get taken in by these!
To coincide with Sunny’s success with ‘Gadar 2‘, there was bad news for him. His family property in the prime Mumbai location of Juhu, Sunny Villa, was put on the auction block by the Bank of Baroda for liquidation, for loan recoveries through a public notice in mainstream newspapers. The notice was, of course, withdrawn within 24 hours.
Sunny Villa has seen a glorious past. So here is some inside information on the property. Sunny Villa, spread over just about 600 square meters, was once a very happening place, full of life. It is in a prime location among prime properties in Juhu. It accommodates a recording studio and an editing suite, along with a preview theatre, above which is located Sunny’s office and a personal suite. On the ground floor, there’s an open-air cafeteria and offices in the front.
Sunny Villa had seen its golden days till the end of 2000. The recording studio was the most sought-after, bookings were rarely available. The front area remained always crowded with people of all hues. It looked like a jamboree of the who’s who in the film trade. It was a melting pot.
At least two films I know of were planned and made using the outer premises of Sunny Villa. These were producers who had no permanent address and no office. They operated using the premises. No tables or chairs, all the business was transacted ‘khade khade’. They not only planned but also completed their films.
One of these films was ‘Deewana’, the film that launched Shah Rukh Khan to stardom! Three first-time aspiring producers met, planned, and completed their film. The other film was Vinay Sinha’s Rajkumar Santoshi-directed ‘Andaz Apna Apna’. There may have been a few more.
Sunny Deol was a sought-after actor, launched with his home production, ‘Betaab’, in 1983, a hit, and then consolidated his career with another love story, ‘Sohni Mehwal’. He came up with intermittent big hits such as ‘Tridev’, ‘Ghayal’, ‘Narsimha’, and ‘Damini’.
In the year 1989, he had as many as eight new releases and in 1993, seven titles. There seemed to be no problem with the money flow.
The problem with male actors in those days was that their palms were always open flat to welcome whatever cash came in. This was the era of ‘token money’. Every filmmaker chased a successful star and expressed his intentions by giving these actors a couple of lakhs in cash as a token. No record, no receipt, no script.
Most often, this token money never materialized into a solid commitment. There was no system of returning the money. Demands for a refund, in case a project did not materialize, fell on deaf ears.
But turning a deaf ear won’t work with the Bank of Baroda.
Success has come to Sunny Deol after a long time with ‘Gadar 2’. They say in a human’s life cycle, fortune favors twice. That is the belief of Indian horoscopes. So, fate gives you an opportunity to avoid past mistakes and erase them.
Sunny Deol has given an interview to the Hollywood publication, ‘Variety’. Not his fault that publications such as ‘Variety’ never showed an interest in Indian cinema. Now that they have noticed our film industry, it has become the first step to draw the attention of Hollywood.
But then, there is the story of ‘RRR’. The makers were sure they were a contender among others and went all out to promote the film in the Hollywood film circles.
They held shows and made sure some of the top celebrities watched the film and commended it. You need to appoint a public relations agency in Hollywood (not to be compared with the way PRs work in India). The film must be lobbied for.
No media was spared, including the street signs, by the ‘RRR’ makers. After all, they were selling a product that was not one of Hollywood’s own. Now, that costs a hell of lot of money, all in dollars.
In his interview to ‘Variety’ reporter Naman Ramchandran, talking about ‘Gadar 2’, Sunny Deol says, “It has become an Indian Marvel hero.” He probably meant HE has become one.
Well, the gateway to Hollywood will need more than just one interview. But if it works, he is the one who fits the Marvel hero slot.