- Vikram Chandiramani
Sunny Deol may not look as macho as his father Dharmendra, but in all fairness, it should be said that the father did not have the son's brazen brawn either. Sunny began his career when his father launched him as the tough romantic hero opposite Amrita Singh in 'Betaab'. With the films that followed, 'Arjun', 'Dacait' and 'Ghayal', Sunny established himself as the tough guy of the silver screen.
Called an introvert, Sunny has few friends in the industry and prefers to keep to himself as much as others keep away from him. " But, that's me. Withdrawn and distant," he says. "I was always a lonesome kind. Besides I was never comfortable in a crowd. I have been wary of the world. Always been by myself. Why should I mix around? Nobody does, unless you want something out of someone," he reasons. "I mingle around only with those I've known for years, people I trust. Otherwise, they are all out to get you, grab you, pull you down. I hate it."
However, this introverted nature seems to be the result of the domineering influence of his father in his childhood. He was scared of him, in awe of him. "A father is a father, a mother is a mother. If the son does something wrong and if the father beats him, it's perfectly normal. Yes, I was scared of my father. But the scare was more associated with respect rather than with fear and nothing else. And yes, we could never and we will never be able to talk on a man-to-man level. It is just not possible. Because then, my father would have to come to my level and that would be compromising with his self-respect. I wouldn't want that to happen. I wouldn't want my son to talk to me on a man-to-man level. A father has to be treated with respect. A father and son can never be friends."
Stardom, Sunny claims, has never affected him. "There has been no change from my side. The change has been from the other side, not mine. It's funny. When you become someone in life, it's the people around you who change their attitude towards you. I'm still the same. People look upon me differently. What can I do in such situations? And it's they who have affected me." He firmly believes in hard work. "I have never believed in pulling the other person down to reach the top. Had I not been exposed to the industry early in life, I would have believed in manipulations, but because my dad is from this line, because I've grown up amidst all this, it wasn't difficult to adapt to it." As a child, he had certain ideas, certain goals to be achieved and he thought he could achieve them had it not been for the double games people played. "I knew I couldn't change them. So I changed myself. My father had always been out of manipulations and still, he'd managed to be at the top."
Besides, continuing to work in films, today, Sunny is also single-handedly managing his younger brother Bobby’s career.
Sunny Deol's 'Gadar: Ek Prem Katha' is one of the ten biggest grosssers of all time at the Indian box office. It collected Rs.70 crores globally when it was released in 2001. To put it in perspective this was a trifle less than the collections of 'Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham' and 'Lagaan' put together. These two movies, released in the same year as 'Gadar: Ek Prem Katha', collected 76 crores with Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham collecting 49 crores and Lagaan collecting 27 crores.
However Sunny Deol lacking marketing savvy could never capitalize on this huge success and his career has steadily gone downhill. Over the past five years, Sunny Deol's pull at the box-office has declined due to a string of flops. Currently Sunny is working on 'Apne' which co-stars his father, yesteryears-star Dharmendra and his younger sibling, actor Bobby Deol.