Bhaiaji Superhit: Sunny Deol Needs to Reinvent Himself Now More Than Ever
Sunny Deol's ‘dhaai kilo ka haath’ may have been all the rage 25 years ago, but it is lost on millennials, who primarily know him as an actor their parents once liked and who now stars in bad comedies they don’t watch.
Sunny Deol, Arshad Warsi and Shreyas Talpade on the poster of Bhaiaji Superhit. (Image: Instagram/Sunny Deol)
This November has had two Sunny Deol releases one week after the other. Mohalla Assi and Bhaiaji Superhit—both dated films that have been in the making for over five years but were held up for varied reasons.
In Mohalla Assi, Deol plays a Sanskrit teacher living in the Varanasi of early 1990s, an ageing man flabbergasted by the rapid pace at which things and people around him are changing, a man who knows he has been left behind but struggles to keep up anyway.
To think about it, Deol’s identity crisis in the film mirrors his own, that of an ageing actor who is trying hard to stay relevant in an industry that has long moved on from his kind of cinema, an actor is trying to cater to a generation that does not identify with him.
His ‘dhaai kilo ka haath’ may have been all the rage 25 years ago, but it is lost on millennials, who primarily know him as an actor their parents once liked and who now stars in bad comedies they don’t watch.
A generation has changed since Deol made his big Bollywood debut opposite Amrita Singh in 1983 in Rahul Rawail’s Betaab. Most of the millennials haven’t watched it or Ghayal or Damini or Darr or Jeet or Border—the films he is best known for. His last film that had any kind of a mass appeal was Gadar, but that too was 17 years ago.
Deol is aware of the crisis too. At a press interaction ahead of Yamla Pagla Deewana: Phir Se’s release, he had said, “I haven’t been offered any great films in a while now. That I am still fresh in people’s memories is because of my earlier work. The kind of cinema I have done, I don’t think they do it today.”
Yes, people no longer like to watch vendetta-driven men who love to stomp feet, flex biceps, uproot water pumps and roar like lions. Moviegoers have evolved, so has cinema. It is time Deol understood it too. He needs to stop using his father’s legend and his past laurels to sell old jokes and overused tropes.
His latest outing Bhaiaji Superhit has a team of actors who have long lost their mojo and it expounds dialogues that are no longer considered entertaining. A film made for 2012 cannot work in 2018. What could have passed as funny then feels offensive now.
That Deol still has a lot of films left in him is clear but he needs to take stock of the new world, assess it minutely and reinvent himself all over again if he wants to stay relevant. It is imperative for him now more than ever because he is all set to launch his son Karan Deol in Bollywood with Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas, a film that he is directing himself. To establish Karan as the next big thing, he will have to go way beyond films like Yamla Pagla Deewana, Ghayal Again, Mohalla Assi and Bhaiaji Superhit.
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