The film media generally ends up publishing news, which we tend to hear after a while was not true However, as a teenager and then as a young man I...
The film media generally ends up publishing news, which we tend to hear after a while was not true. However, as a teenager and then as a young man I grew up on the cinema of these two men. They redefined cinema for a lot of us in the 1990s. Sunny Deol and Rajkumar Santoshi. After a gap of 16 years, the two have decided to work together again and nothing can be more epic, gigantic and exciting news.
For me, the memories of ‘Ghayal’ are etched like a deep line on a rock. The movie and its characters like Balwant Rai and ACP Joe D’Souza remain embedded in memories of millions. In fact, my watching ‘Ghayal’ was an accident that I remain thankful for. ‘Ghayal’ released alongside ‘Dil’ and Aamir was the new sensation so a group of friends went to watch ‘Dil’, as luck would have it the show was sold out, we decided to give ‘Ghayal’ a shot. Sunny Deol holding a gun in a poster outside the theatre did not really make us enthusiastic. We thought we were walking into a typical boring action movie of the 90s. What unfolded on the screen in the next two-and-a-half odd hour was pure epic.
‘Ghayal’ rewrote the way violence, frustration and drama took place on screen. Sunny Deol got his screaming hero avatar from this movie. His full-throated rants against the system in that now legendary police station outburst made it necessary for Sunny to scream for the next 11-odd years, which ended up with the epic volcanic effect in ‘Gadar’. Screaming became mandatory for any action hero post ‘Ghayal’. That was the impact Santoshi created.
The duo made it up with solid consistency. Both ‘Damini’ and the ‘Ghatak’ ensured that Sunny Deol and Rajkumar Santoshi’s cinema was to the genre of violence what Yash Chopra and SRK meant for romance. The movies that this duo created were not just “fist-fist-kick-kick” stuff. They had themes of the society. If ‘Ghayal’ was how the high and mighty can choose and destroy the lives of anyone and walk away scot-free while the system would dance to their tunes.
‘Damini’ spoke about how difficult the system makes it for a woman to get justice after a rape. In one of the most famous dialogues of the movie, Damini the female protagonist claims that a woman is subject to a second rape in the investigation. ‘Ghatak’ was about the land mafia and how the meek have no right to land in this country and it could happen in a city like Mumbai.
Santoshi and Sunny created cinema which was almost realistic and yet had “masala” in it. They never claimed intellect in their cinema that some of our half-baked overrated makers of today ask for. Yet, the cinema of Santoshi had more scathing and burning passionate intellect than a lot of today's over celebrated cinema. For example, that legendary scene in ‘Ghayal’ when ACP Joe D’Souza confronts his Commissioner boss and asks him that why did he victimise or stay silent to the victimisation of Ajay Mehra when actually Balwant Rai is the tormentor?
When he signs off his unrelenting bashing of the system and his boss by saying that – “Aise kanoon ka saath deneke bajay mein vardi utaar ke Ajay Mehra ka saath dena behtar samajhta hoon” – I still recall the way the entire theatre went up in catcalls, whistles, claps and screams. It has been 28 years, I don’t recall a character actor driving up such a frenzy in a theatre. Or that epic interval moment of ‘Ghatak’ when Kashi refuses the offer of Katya to be his gang member and walks away.
In short Rajkumar Santoshi and Sunny Deol created a cinema of moments, which could compel you to watch it again and again and yet you remain thirsty for more. The duo now intends to create a franchise out of ‘Ghatak’ and given the storytelling skills of Santoshi that besides Rajkumar Hirani this is the only man, who can today teach Bollywood sequels. Only his brand of cinema won’t be the soft and goodness of Hirani. I shall be counting days now for the screen release of another guaranteed epic.