Back in the ‘90s, Sunny Deol was nothing less than a personification of macho superstardom. For most part of the decade and beyond he had become the symbol of rage that drove the youth to the theatres. Here one is reminded of films like Ghayal, Ghatak, Narsimha, Ziddi, and Jeet, among others. Also who can forget his cameo in Damini, famous for his “Tarikh par tarikh” speech and of course a bunch of explosive exchanges with the great Amrish Puri? Even though Deol enjoyed tremendous success in the ‘90s, he wasn’t prone to box-office failures. But every time he hit a roadblock he would always make a strong comeback. In the year 2001, when his film Gadar: Ek Prem Katha opened on the same day as the Aamir Khan starrer Lagaan most people saw it as a suicidal move but the film surprised everyone with a remarkable show, cementing Deol’s place in the pantheon of Hindi cinema’s most bankable leading men.
But after the passing of that phase, Deol hasn’t again managed to recapture his lost mojo. As a matter of fact, a majority of his films post Gadar have been half-hearted attempts to cash in on his macho image. At first such films came across as funny then gradually they even stopped being funny. A lot of it has to do with the present generation of moviegoers losing a sense of connect with Deol. The moderate success of Apne and Yamla Pagla Deewana series hasn’t helped much. Now, Deol’s latest film Bhaiaji Superhit is yet another attempt to encash his macho image as an actor. Hindi cinema, popularly referred to as Bollywood, has enjoyed reasonable success making such parodies in the past. But, these films can only work if the audiences are able to relate to the star’s onscreen image. However, Hindi cinema has changed a lot since the ‘90s and the younger audiences in particular aren’t used to watching Sunny Deol deliver those exhortative dialogues or single-handedly take on a dozen thugs. Even someone like Salman Khan has shown a greater willingness for character driven roles as evident from films like Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Sultan. But for some reason Deol is still stuck in the past.
Bhaiaji Superhit isn’t an unwatchable film. Preity Zinta looks quite alluring in her comeback role and the film does have some genuinely enjoyable moments. The viewers who like Sunny Deol wouldn’t feel like leaving the film in the middle. But surely one expects a greater incentive when one goes to the theatre to watch a film, especially with the ever so soaring ticket prices. Here it is worth mentioning that Bhaiaji Superhit is hitting the theatres after a long delay. The film was announced in 2011 and was initially scheduled to release in 2012 but a series of delays proved to be detrimental. No wonder the film looks dated. Perhaps, it would have passed as an entertaining film back in 2012 but a lot has changed in Hindi cinema over the last half a decade or so. Today, the audiences prefer content driven films like Badhai Ho over star studded no brainers. One hopes that Deol too understands this and starts looking for some better scripts that do justice to his prodigious acting talents.