Tag Archives: Sunny Deol

Movie Review: Ghayal Once Again (2016)

GhayalOnceAgain1 Star (out of 4)

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I watched Ghayal Once Again, and I have no idea who anyone was or why anything happened. Though I didn’t watch the original Ghayal when it came out twenty-six years ago, I don’t think that’s the problem. The problem is that director Sunny Deol and his writers focused all their attention on lengthy action sequences and ignored the plot.

Here’s my best guess as to what the hell Ghayal Once Again is about (with spoilers, I guess, though I’m not spoiling anything by helping you avoid this movie):

Ajay (Sunny Deol) runs a high-tech vigilante firm in Mumbai. He kidnaps and tortures people, and is famous for doing so. The police don’t seem to care.

But Ajay harbors demons, presumably from stuff that happened in Ghayal. He has PTSD after being framed for murdering his wife and child. He’s functional, but by no means cured, although his neurologist, Riya (Soha Ali Khan) — who may also be his new wife — thinks he’s fine.

Ajay gives an award to four college kids for something, and then the kids sing and go on a camping trip. When they get home, they realize that they accidentally captured video footage of rich brat Kabir Bhansal (Abhilash Kumar) murdering Ajay’s friend Joe (Om Puri). Except, at that exact moment, the news reports that Joe died when he crashed into an oil tanker while driving his van with its distinctive “I Heart Butter Chicken” (or something) bumper sticker.

See, Joe met with Kabir, Mr. Bhansal (Narendra Jha), and some cringing government guy (Manoj Joshi) to complain to one of them about the other one. Mr. Bhansal is super rich, though no one knows why. Kabir calls Joe a slave, Joe gets mad, and Kabir shoots him. Then Bhansal has Troy — head of his security force of “highly trained foreigners” — put Joe in the Butter Chicken Mobile and drive it into the tanker.

The kids’ first instinct is to call Ajay, but they call one of their dads instead. Dad does the dumbest thing possible and goes to Bhansal with the evidence, rather than just destroying it. Dad is surprised when Bhansal threatens the kids and insists on bugging their phones.

It’s worth noting that Bhansal has access to such advanced surveillance equipment that it makes Mission: Impossible look like they’re using Apple ][s. He also lives in a twenty story house with a practice tee on the roof, and he regularly golfs balls onto the street below AND NO ONE GIVES A SHIT.

One of the kids was smart enough to make a copy of the video, so Troy and his goons chase the kids in a cool sequence most notable for Sunny Deol’s absence from it. Bhansal watches the action from afar, yelling at his army of code monkeys, “Why is it taking you so long to hack into his server? It’s been more than half an hour!”

When Ajay finally joins the chase, it goes on for-freaking-ever because he refuses to put the hard drive with the duplicate video in his pocket and keeps dropping it. Then he steals a helicopter and flies it into Bhansal’s house. Justice is served, though we don’t know how, why, or on whose behalf.


Movie Review: Dishkiyaoon (2014)

Dishkiyaoon2 Stars (out of 4)

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Dishkiyaoon (an Indian onomatopoeia for the sound of a gunshot) aspires to be more than your average underworld action drama. It doesn’t meet its lofty goals, but it deserves credit for trying.

Debutant writer-director Sanamjit Singh Talwar’s ambitions cause problems from the start. The movie opens with Lakwa (Sunny Deol) and Viki (Harman Baweja) — though Lakwa insist on calling Viki “Chaudhray” for some reason — discussing Viki’s past. Flashbacks show everything from Viki being bullied in grade school to his joining a gang led by Mota Tony (Prashant Narayanan).

Every time the flashback returns to Lakwa and Viki in the present, the audience is reminded that we don’t know who these guys are, where they are, how they know each other, or why they are together at that moment. Those issues raise — and fail to answer — the fundamental question every director needs to answer within the first fifteen minutes of any movie: Why should we care?

When the questions of where they are and why are answered at the story’s midpoint, the revelation is underwhelming. The gimmick is not worth the frustration.

Dishkiyaoon‘s hook is that Viki isn’t a typical Bollywood action hero. Despite his buff physique — Baweja spends much of the movie shirtless — adult Viki is emotionally the same bullied little kid. He lacks swagger, despite the impunity that comes with being a gangster. When a pretty girl named Meera (Ayesha Khanna) asks what he does for a living, Viki bows his head sheepishly before showing her the pistol he always carries but never uses.

In many ways, Viki’s journey is less about his attempted rise to underworld supremacy than his search for an ideal father figure. Viki rejects his own inattentive, pacifist dad, first in favor of Tony, and then Lakwa. Most of the men around him are more alpha than Viki, including disreputable thugs like Rocky (Anand Tiwari) and Khaleefa (Sumit Nijhawan). Every event of consequence in the movie is a reaction to wounded male pride.

Only his childhood pal, Ketan (Hasan Zaidi), is as submissive as Viki, though Ketan’s low rank in the pecking order suits his position as a mafia accountant better than a buff flunky like Viki.

The underworld is so densely populated with gangsters, thugs, toadies, and corrupt cops — and they’re introduced in such rapid succession — that it’s impossible to keep track of them all.

Meera’s presence is superfluous. She’s supposed to represent the life Viki could have outside of organized crime, but leaving the mob isn’t that easy, and Viki never expresses a desire to do so.

The music in Dishkiyaoon is distracting, as it bounces from genre to genre without a governing theme. Meera’s introduction is accompanied by a heavy metal tune as she shreds on an electric guitar that isn’t plugged into an amplifier.

Baweja is okay as a leading man. In his defense, Viki is a hard character to pin down. Baweja does a nice job in the film’s climax, a scene in which Viki seems to lose his marbles.

Throughout most of Dishkiyaoon, I wondered if Viki was hallucinating Lakwa. His only connection to the plot is through Viki, and he fills the role of Viki’s ideal father figure. The story eventually confirms that Lakwa does exist, but wouldn’t it have been interesting if he didn’t?


Movie Review: Singh Saab the Great (2013)

Singh_Sahab_the_Great_Theatrical_poster1.5 Stars (out of 4)

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Singh Saab the Great is boring and predictable. Yet I find myself unable to hate it, because it has so much in common with one of my favorite movie experiences of all time: Gunda. Granted, Gunda is a favorite because its sheer ineptitude transforms an earnest-but-terrible movie into a sublime comedy. So the comparison isn’t exactly a compliment for Singh Saab the Great (SSTG, henceforth).

Gunda and SSTG are both revenge movies. SSTG tries to twist the genre in the second half of the film by having the hero sublimate his desire for personal revenge in order to enact structural reform of a corrupt government. But the movie is unable to deny its true nature, and the climax is a fistfight between the hero and the bad guy.

SSTG‘s hero is Sunny (Sunny Deol), a by-the-books government tax collector. He gets into trouble when he shutters the factories of a local don, Bhoodev (Prakash Raj). In retaliation, the don threatens Sunny’s family, including his sister, Guddi, and his much-younger wife, Minnie (Urvashi Rautela).

The age difference between the lead couple — Deol is 57, Rautela is 19 — is so vast that writer Shaktimaan Talwar is forced to address it in the dialog. Sunny bemoans having failed to heed his uncle’s warning against marrying such a young bride. This only serves to draw more attention to the creepy age difference.

As in Gunda, the women in the movie function as sex objects, vulnerable points at which to attack Sunny, or both. Like Ganga — the love interest in Gunda — Minnie’s only duties are to berate Sunny and heave her gigantic bosom during clunky dance numbers in which Deol stomps around like a stiff.

Just like Gunda‘s vastly more entertaining villain, Bulla (“Bulla!”), Bhoodev spends most of his time in his mansion talking about things he’s going to do rather than just doing them. The movie’s single best moment is a pointless, abrupt cut to an underwater shot of Bhoodev floating in his pool, staring directly into the camera. Bhoodev then emerges from the pool in just his swim trunks, for anyone longing for a topless shot of Prakash Raj.

About half of SSTG‘s 150-minute runtime is footage presented in slow-motion: everything from Sunny and Bhoodev striding determinedly, to Guddi and her son falling from a scaffolding, to Minnie tossing her hair over her shoulder a million times. On the flip side, every shot of a vehicle in motion is sped up. Cars driving = boring. Hair tossing = something to be savored.

All of the action sequences are ridiculous and inadvertently funny. Like many so-bad-they’re-good movies, SSTG is made to be shared. Watching this with my brother, Dan, certainly ramped up the hilarity. But even solo, I would’ve laughed out loud at shots of Sunny Deol screaming while leaping ten feet straight up out of a canal.

Watching SSTG with my brother also taught me a little something about sibling relationships. I realize now that, when I got married, I was supposed to have wailed over being parted from my beloved brother. (This parting merits a whole song in Gunda. In SSTG, Guddi just cries).

I also learned that I can’t trust that my brother really cares about me until he’s impaled a couple of guys with bamboo poles and punched a guy into the grill of a truck on my behalf. Get on that, Dan.


Opening November 22: Gori Tere Pyaar Mein and Singh Saab the Great

What a busy time of year for Bollywood movies! Two new Hindi films open in Chicago area theaters on November 22, 2013, fresh on the heels of two blockbuster releases. Gori Tere Pyaar Mein — a romantic comedy starring Kareena Kapoor Khan and Imran Khan — gets the wider release of the two new flicks.

Gori Tere Pyaar Mein opens on Friday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, Regal Gardens Stadium 1-6 in Skokie, Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 30 min.

This weekend’s other new release is the action flick Singh Saab the Great, starring Sunny Deol.

Singh Saab the Great opens on Friday at the Golf Glen 5, South Barrington 30, and Cantera 17. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 30 min.

After earning $1,449,174 in its first weekend in U.S. theaters, Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela carries over at the Gardens 1-6, Golf Glen 5, South Barrington 30, and Cantera 17, as well as the AMC Loews Crestwood 18 in Crestwood and AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge.

All this Bollywood competition — plus competition from Hollywood fare like the sequel to The Hunger Games releasing this Friday — has dramatically shortened Krrish 3‘s lifespan in U.S. theaters. The only local theater giving it a fourth week is the South Barrington 30. The movie’s three-week U.S. box office total is $2,123,333.

Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend include Irandam Ulagam (Tamil) and Thira (Malayalam) at the Golf Glen 5.

Movie Review: Yamla Pagla Deewana (2011)

2 Stars (out of 4)

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The primary selling-point of Yamla Pagla Deewana (“Nutty Loony Crazy,” according to the lyrics of the title track) is that it stars Bollywood legend Dharmendra and his two sons, Sunny and Bobby Deol. But what if you didn’t know who the three leads were? Would the movie be as successful? I don’t think so.

Sunny Deol’s character, Paramveer, has lived in Canada with his mother since he was a child, after his thieving father ran off with his younger brother. After thirty years apart, Param’s mom begs him to bring her estranged husband and son back to her. He obliges and heads to Banares.

Param’s father, Dharam (Dharmendra) and brother, Gajodhar (Bobby Deol), don’t believe Param’s story. But Param gradually wins their trust, in part by acting as strongman during their heists. When Gajodhar’s girlfriend, Saheba (Kulraj Randhawa), is kidnapped by her goon brothers and taken home to Punjab, Dharam begs Param to help his younger brother.

Producer/director Samir Karnik frequently reminds the audience about the actors’ star status. When Param shows Dharam a photo of the conman in his youth — proof of his prior relationship with Param’s mother — Dharam explains that it must be a photo of Dharmendra.

Later, Saheba asks Gajodhar why he’s not fighting beside his father and brother. He says that its best to let Dharmendra and Sunny Deol handle the action, leaving the romance to Bobby Deol.

The self references are distractions that ruin the flow of the movie. If one is familiar with the actors’ previous work, it’s no surprise that Sunny does all the fighting and that Bobby gets the girl. If not, the references make no sense.

The distractions and the slow pace of the first half are a shame, as the second half of Yamla Pagla Deewana is quite good. Anupam Kher is hilarious as Saheba’s eldest brother. Jokes about the qualities ascribed to English speakers in a place where the language not common, as in rural Punjab, are both informative and funny.

Param has an interesting role as a non-resident Indian (NRI). His blonde, Canadian wife, Mary (Australian actress Emma Brown Garrett) thinks that everyone in India is crazy. Saheba’s sister-in-law, Poli (Sucheta Khanna), thinks that Canada is paradise. She reads about Canada on the Internet, in spite of her limited English skills (as betrayed by her “I Love Caneda” t-shirt). Param, as both Indian and Canadian, bridges that gap and exploits it to his advantage.

But the good points of Yamla Pagla Deewana don’t outweigh its clunkier aspects. A little less self-awareness would’ve gone a long way.


Opening January 14: Yamla Pagla Deewana

One new Hindi movie opens in the Chicago area on January 14, 2011. Yamla Pagla Deewana stars Bollywood legend Dharmendra and his sons, actors Sunny and Bobby Deol, as a family of con artists who must rescue a pretty girl.

Yamla Pagla Deewana opens Friday at the AMC Loews Pipers Alley 4 in Chicago, Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington and Regal Cantera Stadium 30 in Warrenville. The movie has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 25 min.

All four of the theaters carrying Yamla Pagla Deewana are also holding over No One Killed Jessica, which earned $227,473 during its first weekend in U.S. theaters. Tees Maar Khan leaves area theaters, having earned $1,072,686 in the U.S. so far.

Other Indian movies showing around Chicagoland this weekend include Anaganga O Dheerudu (Telugu), Kaavalan (Tamil), Mirapakai (Telugu) and Prama Veera Chakra (Telugu) at the Golf Glen 5; Manmadhan Ambu (Tamil) at the Cantera 30; and Siruthai (Tamil) at Sathyam Cinemas in Downers Grove.

Opening March 12: Right Yaaa Wrong and Na Ghar Ke Na Ghaat Ke

The Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles hosts the only new Hindi movies opening in the Chicago area on Friday, March 12: the cop thriller Right Yaaa Wrong, which stars Sunny Deol, Irrfan Khan and Konkona Sen Sharma, and a little known comedy with a long title, Na Ghar Ke Na Ghaat Ke.

Expect next week to be light on new Hindi movies as well, with wider Chicago area releases of movies featuring big stars resuming March 26.

Other Hindi movies continuing to show in the Chicago area this weekend include Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge at the Golf Glen 5 and AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington, Karthik Calling Karthik at the South Barrington 30 and My Name Is Khan at the South Barrington 30, AMC Loews Pipers Alley 4 in Chicago and AMC Cantera 30 in Warrenville.

During its four weeks in U.S. theaters, My Name Is Khan has earned $3,834,048.

Other Indian movies showing near Chicago this weekend are Inkosaari (Telugu), Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa (Tamil) and Ye Maaya Chesave (Telugu), which carry over at the Golf Glen 5, and Leader (Telugu) and Chattambi Nadu (Malayalam) at Sathyam Cinemas in Downers Grove.

The Golf Glen 5 is also showing Indian Premier League cricket matches in the morning every weekend through mid-April. Check the theater’s website for match times.

Movie Review: Heroes (2008)

2.5 Stars (out of 4)

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Two slacker film students develop a love for their country as they travel across India. Preity Zinta provides the film with emotional gravity as a soldier’s widow, and Sunny Deol gets the most memorable scene, beating up a dozen people while seated in a wheelchair. Heroes is patriotic without being nationalistic, although the tone is sappy at times. The breathtaking scenery is more than enough to make anyone fall in love with India.

No Rating (violence); 138 minutes

This review originally appeared in The Naperville Sun on October 30, 2008