Cast: Sunny Deol, Soha Ali Khan, Nadira Babbar, Rishabh Arora, Tisca Chopra, Om Puri, Shivam Patil, Aanchal Munjal, Narendra Jha
Director: Sunny Deol
Rating: * * ½
The 1990 ‘Ghayal’ directed by Raj Kumar Santoshi was definitely an ace in the hole for Sunny Deol. This attempt to cash-in on that success though is a little battle worn and decidedly stale. A sequel to the hit film, the opening credits gives us a brief glimpse from the glories of the past- Sunny Deol and Meenakshi Seshadri both vintage beauties lending a certain buoyancy to what’s to come next. Unfortunately that promise is never fulfilled. Sunny Deol, credited with story, screenplay and direction tries valiantly to insert zest and vigor in his pet (read home production) action drama but staying relevant to today’s world and geo-politics is beyond even his capabilities.
The story picks up from the past. ‘Ghayal’ ended with Ajay Mehra (Sunny) pulverizing his opponents and this one begins from when his incarceration ends. After a life-term -no less, which gets commuted, Ajay has turned over a new leaf. He appears to have mellowed with age and experience behind bars and begins his free march forward by setting up a newspaper titled ‘Satyakam.’ Since this is a home production, Sunny probably wanted to invoke the blessings and good will associated with his father’s best film and performance. But the peace and love is obviously not meant to last very long.
An intern at a news corp commits suicide after her editor-boss rapes her and this incident more than others signifies the dearth of ideas that mainstream Hindi cinema is grappling with. The pill-popping activist newspaper man Ajay is approached by a few pro-tech youngsters (idealistic college kids) who seek out his help when they witness the murder of an upright retired Cop (Om Puri). It’s a given that Ajay will not be found wanting thereof. He gets out his ‘Dhai Kilo Ka haath’ which was in cold storage for several years, his face and expression readied to send chills down the spines of villains and sets about righting the many wrongs of this new and alien (to him) world. He may have started out trying to weed out injustice through the printed word but needs must and he goes right back to what he does best -hitting out with all the ferocity that his ageing 56 year old body can muster.
The action sequences are pretty well-knit and slick enough but the relevance of the entire set-up is quite questionable. The age-old formula is alive and thriving here and the melodramatic twists thereof are par for the course. Modernity gets referenced through the actions of the youth and the new age villains but it’s eventually old-fashioned fisticuffs and stunt action that actually does the trick in the end. Sunny shoulders most of the run, trying valiantly to reignite those vintage memories in an effort to infuse likeability in the proceedings. But that’s a tough ask. Mainly because there’s nothing new here than what we’ve seen in a hundred other revenge infused mainstream Bollywood dramas. There’s no doubting that Sunny believes that he still has what it takes to interest his fans. And why not? His rugged, sincere charm comes through quite nicely and his lack of artifice in performance has always been his strength as an actor.
Most of the supporting cast is just forgettable and so are the dialogues and characterizations. It’s the writing and the direction that is a let down. For someone who promised ‘never again’ after his disastrous debut as director, this comes as a curious turn. Even if he was disillusioned by his favorite directors and it made better economic sense while in production to shoulder all the key responsibilities himself in order to cut costs, this doesn’t appear to be a wise comeback as director. A fresh young and able director might have done wonders with the treatment –enough to give it a fresh new look. With Sunny, it’s just standard oft-repeated, antiquated and outdated rigueur, and that’s just not likely to be appealing in this day and age.