His father, Dharmendra, is the original He-Man of the film industry and Sunny Deol is a chip off the old block. Sunny started out doing romantic films but later established himself as a bonafide action hero. His barrel-chested physique and towering screen presence looked just right when it came to beating up the baddies. One could imagine the hurt as his muscular hands meted out the punishment. But Sunny wasn’t just a hero who could fight convincingly on screen. He could emote too with the best of them and it’s this combination that won him legions of admirers both in India and abroad. On the occasion of his birthday, we bring you a list of some of Sunny Deol’s best movies.
Director: Rahul Rawail
Cast: Sunny Deol, Amrita Singh, Shammi Kapoor, Nirupa Roy, Prem Chopra
Dharmendra launched his son Sunny Deol with Betaab which looked inspired from The Taming Of The Shrew. The film had a tried and tested poor-guy-falling-for-rich girl storyline. Sunny (Sunny Deol) was a childhood friend of Roma (Amrita Singh) when they were kids. However, his father became bankrupt and as a result, her father (Shammi Kapoor) broke off the friendship. He lives on a farm with his mother and when Roma comes with her girl pals to spend some time in her farmhouse which is adjacent to his farm, their paths cross. He recognises her immediately but she doesn’t. He keeps teasing her, however, and while initially, she rebuffed his advances, hormones do kick in and she can’t help but be attracted towards this tall and handsome stranger. Of course, when her dad catches a sniff of the affair he wants the union squashed in the bud. But young love is often rebellious and the lovers go against his authority, leading to Sunny showcasing his prowess in the action scenes as well. RD Burman’s music, comprising hit songs such as Tumne di Awaaz, Badal yun garjta hai, Jab hum jawan honge too had a large hand in its success.
Director: Rahul Rawail
Cast: Sunny Deol, Dimple Kapadia, Raj Kiran, Anupam Kher
The film kind of established Sunny Deol as a top-notch action star. He plays an honest, unemployed young man who can’t tolerate wrongdoing of any kind. He beats up a goon in the pay of politician Deen Dayal Trivedi (Prem Chopra), who thinks he has done it at the behest of rival Shiv Kumar Chowgule (Anupam Kher). Circumstances force Arjun to seek Chowgule’s help and the latter uses him as a pawn to eliminate Trivedi’s empire. The politicians soon join hands, however, and a disillusioned Arjun at first gives up the fight but later vows to expose them both, even at the cost of his life.
Director: Pankaj Parashar
Cast: Sridevi, Rajnikanth, Sunny Deol, Anupam Kher, Rohini Hattangadi
It’s believed in movie lore that if you haven’t done a double role you haven’t been a star. Sri was on top and the only feather she was missing from her cap was a dual role. This was the equivalent of Hema Malini’s Seeta Aur Geeta or Anil Kapoor’s Kishan Kanhaiya. She played twins the tamed and submissive Anju and the boisterous and go-getting Manju. Manju helps Anju turn the tables on Anupam Kher and Rohini Hattangdi’s scheming characters. Sunny Deol and Rajinikanth acted as foils to Sri’s twin roles. Sunny’s and Sridevi’s fresh pairing was much appreciated in the film. Their song Kisi ke haath na aayegi yeh ladki from the film is still remembered today.
Director: Rajiv Rai
Cast: Sunny Deol, Jackie Shroff, Naseeruddin Shah, Amrish Puri
A dreaded villain who lives in a huge gangster’s den, makes outlandish plans and has an eye for girls, a straight-laced police officer, a village loafer and a young man with confused ideas about justice, the film was a big-budget masala potboiler and had something going for everyone. Having three macho stars meant plenty of hi-jinks action of course. And the presence of skimpily clad leading ladies in the form of Madhuri Dixit, Sangeeta Bijlani and Sonam meant they will get captured at some point to be rescued later by our heroes. It’s not a film where the plot needs to be followed closely. Munch some popcorn and enjoy the corny situations and dialogue and clap as the three male leads join hands to bring the evil villain and his empire to its knees.
Director: Rajkumar Santoshi
Cast: Sunny Deol, Meenakshi Seshadri, Raj Babbar, Moushmi Chatterjee, Amrish Puri
Ajay Mehra (Sunny Deol) is a boxer living with his brother Ashok Mehra (Raj Babbar) and sister-in-law Indu (Moushumi Chatterjee). Ashok has dealings with a shady businessman Balwant Rai (Amrish Puri) who turns out to be a master criminal. When Ashok threatens to reveal all to the police, Balwant has him killed. The police accuse Ajay of killing his brother and of having illegal relations with his sister-in-law, who commits suicide driven by grief. Ajay is sent to jail but later breaks out of it and starts exacting his revenge by destroying Balwant Rai’s power structure. In the end, he kills Rai in front of the police, who can only watch it all unfold helplessly. The film was a major blockbuster and Sunny Deol’s histrionics as well his screen presence got much appreciated.
Director: Rajkumar Santoshi
Cast: Meenakshi Seshadri, Sunny Deol, Rishi Kapoor, Amrish Puri, Tinu Anand, Paresh Rawal
The film centred around Meenakshi Seshadri, who plays a simple housewife and somewhere finds the courage to rise up against her rich and powerful in-laws when they try to cover up rape. It’s said to be one of the best women-oriented films to have come out of Bollywood. It is memorable for Sunny Deol’s brilliant portrayal of an alcoholic lawyer and the role gained him a Filmfare as well as the National Film Award for Best Supporting Actor. It strengthened his macho image. His dialogues in the film Tarikh pe tarikh and Dhai kilo ka haath became iconic and a pop-culture reference.
Director: Rajkumar Santoshi
Cast: Sunny Deol, Meenakshi Seshadri, Danny Denzongpa, Amrish Puri
It wasn’t just an action film but had an emotional core depicting a great father-son bond. The film was in the making for five years but was totally worth the wait. In the beginning, we see Om Puri’s character being killed by Katia’s (Danny Denzongpa) goons. Kashi (Sunny Deol) is a wrestler in Varanasi. He comes to Mumbai with his freedom fighter father (Amrish Puri) to get him treated. There, he witnesses Katia and his six brothers controlling the lives of the people in the locality where he lives. When Katia humiliates his father and kills his stepbrother, Kashi goes on a war against the crime lord and his six brothers eliminating them one-by-one in gruesome ways and finally rids the city of Katia’s terror. The crowds went berserk watching Sunny fight. The fighting cage scenes are a hit even now on Youtube.
Director: Raj Kanwar
Cast: Sunny Deol, Karisma Kapoor, Salman Khan
Karan (Sunny Deol) is the right-hand man for Gajraj (Amrish Puri), a local crime lord. His violent ways are witnessed by Kajal (Karisma Kapoor) and her father when he kills a man publicly. Later, when he comes to beat-up her father, Kajal confronts him without fear and he falls in love with her. Circumstances lead her to also love him. However, her father is against the match and because of his ill-health, she agrees to marry Raju (Salman Khan), a boy belonging to a business family. Since Gajraj and Raju’s father are rivals, Gajraj orders Karan to kill Raju. When he comes to know Raju is Kajal’s husband, he vows to protect them both.
Director: JP Dutta
Cast: Sunny Deol, Sunil Shetty, Akshaye Khanna, Jackie Shroff, Tabu, Pooja Bhatt
Sunny played the role of Major Kuldip Singh Chandpuri in the film. He’s the soul of the film and holds its emotional core together. The film was shot in Bikaner and recreated the legendary1971 Battle of Longewala. Real army men participated in the shooting of the film and genuine army gear like tanks and army jeeps were used to add a touch of authenticity. On the evening of 3 December 1971, Pakistan Air Force planes bomb multiple Indian airbases and war officially gets declared. Dharamveer Bhan (Akshaye Khanna) and five of his soldiers are sent to patrol the border in a section; BSF Assistant Commandant Bhairon Singh (Sunil Shetty) and his men are assigned to clear out the nearby villages. Dharamveer spots Pakistani tanks (Chinese Type 59s) and infantry crossing the border into India. He reports back the enemy movement to Major Kuldip Singh Chandpuri (Sunny Deol) and is ordered to secretly follow the tanks without engaging them. Wing Commander Andy Bajwa (Jackie Shroff), tells Major Kuldip that there can be no air support as his base has only Hunter-Fighters, which can only fly during the day. Bajwa promised air support at first light and asked Kuldip and his men to hold off the enemy during the night. Kuldip and his vastly outnumbered men decide to defend their post till their dying breath. Showcasing heroics of the highest order, they continue to engage the enemy throughout the night, even blowing off tanks by deploying grenades and ensure a victory when Bajwa and his boys fly down to finish off the enemy. Border was a hugely patriotic film and evoked the feelings of patriotism and pride among the masses.
Gadar: Ek Prem Katha (2001)
Director: Anil Sharma
Cast: Sunny Deol, Ameesha Patel, Amrish Puri, Lilette Dubey
Some say other than Sholay, Gadar is the most-watched Indian film. It’s a love story set during the Partition. Sakeena (Ameesha Patel) is left at the Indian side of the border during the riots that followed the Partition and truck driver Tara Singh rescues her from being molested. They get married and even have a son together. After many years, Sakina, through a newspaper article, comes to know that her father is alive and has become a prominent politician in Pakistan. When she goes to meet him, her family uses her for political mileage and doesn’t even allow her to go back to her husband and son in India. How Tara Singh comes to Pakistan and single-handedly fights the entire Pak army to rescue his wife forms the crux of this violent love story.