Cast: Sunny Deol, Om Puri, Soha Ali Khan, Narendra Jha
Director: Sunny Deol
It’s the climax of Ghayal Once Again. Our hero, Ajay Mehra, is surrounded by the bad guys. The main henchman makes Ajay put down his gun. Then he puts his own gun down and declares: Now we’re going to kill you with our bare hands.
Obviously this guy hasn’t seen any Sunny Deol movies. Because that’s the golden rule — whatever you do, do not go up against the dhai kilo ka haath. As expected, Ajay pulverizes them like an expert chef tenderising meat. The original Ghayal was released in 1990. Parts of it seem horribly dated now, especially the happy family scenes and comedic interludes. But the film, written and directed by Rajkumar Santoshi, still has the power to move you. By the end, you are applauding Ajay’s fight against the ‘ sada hua system’. The sequel is set 26 years later, but not much has changed. The system is still controlled by the rich and the powerful — in this case, the industrialist Raj Bansal. At one point, a character angrily declares: Today, truth and justice is Raj Bansal.
Which, of course, doesn’t go down too well with Ajay, who is now some sort of newspaper head and crime-fighting vigilante. He has an ops team and a sophisticated underground lair. Someone calls them ‘ Sach ke fidayeen’. Basically, it’s the A-Team meets Batman. What ensues is an epic battle that engulfs the city of Mumbai. The war spills out into malls, streets, trains and lanes.
It’s an old-fashioned fight between good and evil but what makes it gripping is the determination and earnestness that Sunny Deol brings to it. He gives us a superhero without layers or slickness. He is on triple duty here — actor, co-writer and director. And he just keeps going. Sunny and his story writers, Shaktimaan and Sagar Pandya, have also tried to imbue some nuance into the black-and-white palette. So Raj Bansal, played nicely by Narendra Jha, isn’t a monster.
Post-interval, Ghayal Once Again becomes overwrought with drama and tears. But Sunny keeps the momentum going. This film feels like a throwback to the good old days when heroes were mountains who stood tall even with bullets in their chests. Yes, parts of it are silly and illogical, but it’s also satisfying.