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Vintage Sunny at his best!

At a time when the industry is going through a lean phase, Sunny Deol's The Hero has won over his contemporaries' films.

india Updated: Aug 18, 2003 18:26 IST
Arnab Banerjee
Arnab Banerjee

With a spate of mega budget box-office duds crumbling, the film industry has never had it so bad, with hardly any dependable box-office successes.

The fate of actors too has been rather sad with no hero emerging as a challenger to the supremacy that was established by Amitabh Bachchan, when he rode the crest of popularity and till date, and continues to be a major influence in the industry.

At a time when the industry is going through a lean phase, Sunny Deol's The Hero has triumphed over his contemporaries' films and even those of his newcomers, with his grossly over budgeted film, The Hero. The film hasn't been a hit nationwide a.k.a his previous blockbuster Gadar - Ek Prem Katha but it has reaffirmed Sunny's status as hero material.

To all those cynics who run him down and his efforts of not being able to please his critics, or to all those diehard fans of the redoubtable Aamir or even a Shah Rukh, it must be recalled that only a Deol stood out - in terms of mass popularity as well as critical appeal - with his Gadar Ek Prem Katha two years back when Aamir Khan's Lagaan made cinematic history.

The returns of the Anil Sharma directed film on the traumas of partition between India and Pakistan were far greater within the country than the worldwide acclaim that brought Lagaan international fame and success.

Clearly the finesse and craft which Ashutosh Gowarikar's film had, was "not an all encompassing Indian appeal cutting across all states, religions and people," according to distributor Sanjay Mehta, "whereas Gadar had the emotional strength to pull of in the remotest of hamlets too."

There are people who mock at his 40-plus status and 'mere bicep flexing' abilities in the name of histrionics that has made him go through a long innings. But is it any mean achievement to have the power and charismatic appeal at a time when heroes are made a dime-a-dozen and every film that hits the theatres on Fridays comes a cropper despite hype and publicity?

Let's face it - when it comes to mass hysteria not just in the Northern states but across the country, few actors would be able to generate frenzy and adulation that Deol does. Not to mention the demi-God status in his father's homeground Punjab, where all it does to declare war is to say one word against him (or his family).

The Hero is not a patch on his earlier films where vintage Sunny won over his female fans with his vulnerable good looks or earned himself the entire younger lot's 'hero' worship, and as a reminder of his stardom to his contemporaries, set the cash registers ringing.

But what does work in his favour is the complete conviction with which he essays the role of a spy. To his viewers, his mind-blowing stunts never looked convincing enough when other actors tried to ape him.

It may be too early to predict what lies in store for him at a stage when a string of murder mysteries, suspense thrillers, action paced masala movies starring him are going to hit the screens in the forthcoming months. But if his offscreen popularity is anything to go by, his super stardom still makes the young and the old head for his films.

To the large chunk of film watchers in India, cinema is far greater than the make believe world of fantasy and reality. To them a 'real' hero who looks 'strong' enough to bring about social changes, or is instrumental in annihilating evil single handedly, is the one they would worship, flock around to have a dekko, and spend money repeatedly to memorize the menacingly dramatic voice that delivers hard hitting dialogues in his films.

First Published: May 14, 2003 19:08 IST