In an exclusive tÊte-À-tÊte a wittier, quicker with words&wiser Sunny Deol pours his heart out
Why do you continue to be so media shy?
I've always been a very shy person. I'd rather let my work speak for me. Finally the audience judges you by what you do rather than what you say. Talking about yourself maybe the norm these days. But I'm not gonna change. I'm happy the way I am. If people like me, fine. If they don't, how much can I convince them that I am good?
You are specially uncomfortable on television...
I'm not good at interviews. I'm uncomfortable in print also. When you sit down to express yourself you end up saying things that you may not mean the way it sounds. But it's too late. You end up sounding like an idiot. You need to be a professional interviewee to say all the right things. Using the right words is an art a lot of my colleagues have mastered. I haven't. I don't want to say things that I regret doing. Once I start slipping I slide downhill all the way (laughs). Shouting from rooftops doesn't suit me because that's what I'm accused of doing in my films.
You can no longer play the young romantic lead. What kind of role transition are you looking at?
I'm looking forward to doing Dr Chandraprakash Diwedi's Prithviraj-Sanjukta. I've got the script and it's fantastic. Problem is, people aren't willing to touch the really good directors. I can't understand why! Dr Diwedi isn't good with his PR. All the other so-called big directors today take 200 days and more to complete a film and they go over-budget. But no one complains. Because they feel the investments would be recovered. But the budget for that project is still not in place. Unfortunately my recent films haven't done well. As far as the market goes, I'm not a saleable proposition right now.
I don't think the market value of a star-actor like you varies from Friday to Friday?
What has happened is, the corporate houses have entered into the filmmaking business. They've no or little idea of the creative aspects of cinema. They can't tell a good script from a bad one. It's a dangerous situation. You've to do your own PR with them to convince them for a project, pamper them and flatter them. In a way this arrival of the corporate sector is good. Because the quantity and variety of films have multiplied. But these corporate houses have no knowledge of cinema. They believe whatever their chamchas tell them. I've spoken to dozens of these corporate houses. They've neither the confidence nor the knowledge to do any really worthy project , unless you're a big filmmaker or actor who has had a big hit last week or at the most, last month. Then they don't mind spending 20-30 crore rupees without knowing what the subject is.
Don't you think this is the right time for you to produce your own films in right earnest?
Yeah all my future projects will have my creative control completely. I'm also going into joint ventures with others. They'll handle the financial side of a film while I handle the creativity. I don't know how to handle money. But I've learnt my lessons. It's been a costly education for me (laughs ). Now I can see when wastage is happening during shooting. I can and will take steps to control the budget. I'll sign a director and allow him to go on the floors only when he has given me the full script at least three months before shooting.
In your last release Naksha you were seen jiving with your co-stars. I thought you hated dancing.
I do. I still do. I've always believed men don't dance. I've come so far in my life believing that (laughs). I came to this film industry to act, not dance. There are so many actors in the past who have been successful without knowing how to dance
Do you feel that your loyalty towards long-standing directors like Guddu Dhanoa and Anil Sharma needs to be broken?
I don't think so. It's not about loyalty. But it's very important for me to be comfortable with someone if I choose to work with. Otherwise I wouldn't do it. Of late I've done a lot of films with new directors. But yes, there have been directors who were so possessive of me that they bad-mouthed me in front of other filmmakers so they wouldn't sign me.
What to do? The world is like that only. I've heard people say I'm a troublesome actor. But the truth is, I haven't troubled anyone. The delays have been health-related. And whatever the losses due to my health I immediately got down to the delayed project after recovery before moving to the new one. I remember there was chaos when there was a fire on the sets of my film Bhagat Singh. But I continued to shoot for Anil Sharma's The Hero. I don't like to talk about such issues. But I know the kind of person I am. I wake up early, exercise, be on time for my shooting. When I can't tolerate indiscipline how can I be undisciplined? Now they say I've changed. But I've always been accessible and punctual.
Is your back fully healed?
It can never be fully cured. It's just something I've learnt to live with. The pain can come back any time. I just have to live with. It. Even a sneeze can bring it on. I don't even think about it. I'm cautious to the point of lying down if I feel even the slightest strain to the back.
Sunny Deol earlier was reckless with feelings and finances...
I can't change. I know many times my generosity has been interpreted as foolishness by the very people whom I've helped. I can't change myself just to prove the cunning people wrong. I am what I am. But now I avoid people who can take advantage of me. But I can't really recognize dangerous people. If I did I wouldn't be caught unawares.
Have your financial problems ended?
They have. I'm on the road to recovery. Hopefully things will get better. Earlier I was in a real soup. I'm now getting my production house back on its feet. I'm tying up with K Sera Sera. After a couple of successes I'll feel more confident.
Would you like your sons to be actors?
Personally speaking, there's nothing I love more than cinema. But I did what I wanted. My parents never forced me into movies. I'd like Bobby's and my children to also do what they want. I will guide them but I won't push them. It's likely that they'd want to be in showbiz. Entertainment is now so much part of everyday life. At the moment they're too young to decide. They're interested in cinema. For now they're studying in Mumbai and doing well. I want them to be as educated as possible , so they don't make the same mistakes I did. I want them to know how to handle money. Earning money isn't difficult. Holding on to it, is.
Cinema today seems to be changing?
Not necessarily for the better. Most films today are targeted at cities and overseas, not to the ticket-paying working-class. I wouldn't call them 'masses'. I don't believe in this difference between masses and classes. But yes, a certain class of viewers that enjoyed heart and soul in movies is getting left out. I get really irritated by distinctions like art and commercial cinema. What's art cinema? Cinema that only a handful like? But if I like commercial films, they are art for me. These coinages are corny.
Any plans of directing another film?
Yes I'll be directing quite a lot of films once I get into the groove. I'm working on a couple of scripts. Anytime I feel it's right I'd take to direction. My creative thoughts are simmering. I often find it difficult to listen to other people's ideas. That's why I need to exercise creative control over my films. I've collected so much knowledge on cinema over the years. From now on I'll be involved in every creative aspect of a film.
Do you think Bobby is handling his career well?
Very well. It's all about the right things happening at the right time. I don't advise him on what to do beyond a point. I can't force my ideas on him.