‘Tara Singh is like Hulk’: Sunny Deol

Sunny Deol speaks to Puja Talwar about the return of his iconic character from Gadar, his status as Bollywood’s 1980s’ youth icon, and launching the next generation of Deols in Hindi cinema  
The Katha Continues: The upcoming sequel to the 2001 film sees Sunny Deol, Ameesha Patel and Utkarsh Sharma reprising their roles. Fans, especially the 90s kids, are pretty excited for this period act
The Katha Continues: The upcoming sequel to the 2001 film sees Sunny Deol, Ameesha Patel and Utkarsh Sharma reprising their roles. Fans, especially the 90s kids, are pretty excited for this period act

What was revisiting Tara Singh after 22 years like? 
To be honest, I was not initially convinced of the idea of making a sequel, since the original was complete. I was apprehensive until (director) Anil Sharma discussed the narrative with me. I realized that in the last two decades, there has not been another film like Gadar, which is so Indian in its aesthetics. Tara Singh has become one of those comic book heroes people want to see. He is something like Marvel’s Hulk, a saviour, who can also destroy for his people’s sake. In Gadar 2, we revisit Tara and his family in 1971, taking forward the story of the 2001 film, which was set in the backdrop of Partition.

Are you anything like Tara Singh?
As an actor, I think there is always a bit of us in every character we play. That’s only how we can justify them.

Despite Gadar being called nationalistic and jingoistic, it was one of the biggest blockbusters of its time. Do you think it is tough to make such movies now? 
In the early 2000s, corporations entered the movie-making business, and we started getting influenced by the Western style of filmmaking. We adopted their format and the essence of Hindi cinema became diluted. That is when regional films started to do well because they were desi at their core and told stories closer to home. Thankfully, things are changing now as the youth today want to know more about their roots.

Sunny Deol on the sets of Gadar 2

It has been four decades since your debut in Betaab. You have played the rebel with a cause in many films such as Arjun, Ghayal, Damini, and become a pop-culture hero of sorts. What kind of thought went into creating that image?
I was heavily influenced by James Dean and Marlon Brando. But there were no such Bollywood films that spoke to the youth. Then, the industry was driven by my father (Dharmendra), Amitabh Bachchan, and Jeetendraji. So when Betaab, Arjun, Dacait and Yateem––the movies no one had thought of making—came out, I became the voice of the youth. That’s how I got my identity. Luckily for me, I also met like-minded directors such as Rahul Rawail and JP Dutta.

The third generation of the Deols is now entering showbiz. You launched your son Karan in Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas in 2019, and now the younger one, Rajveer, is debuting with Rajshri Productions’ Dono. Do you feel they have it tougher? 
It is challenging to be an actor from a film family. I remember when I was launching Bobby (Deol), no one was willing to join hands with us. They would be courteous to our faces but had double standards. There are many critics who are unnecessarily harsh, without even knowing about the craft.

Will the audience get to see all three generations of the Deol family together on screen? 
I am keen, but it’s difficult to find a good story, director, and producer who can put it together. It’s easier said than done. But hopefully, Gadar 2 will work its magic, and I will be in a position to pick what I really want to do. 

Is there any other character, after Tara Singh, you want to reprise?
Looking back, I would like to relive all of my characters from the iconic films. Going by the early response to Gadar 2, it seems that people may want to see what Arjun Malwankar of Arjun is up to now, or what has become of Kashi from Ghatak. The Indian Army wants me to remake Border. I am humbled by the love I have got. 

Related Stories

No stories found.
The New Indian Express
www.newindianexpress.com