Actor-filmmaker Sunny Deol and director Anil Sharma are gearing up to start work on Gadar 2. The film will soon go on floors and track the journey of Tara Singh’s wife (played by Ameesha Patel) and son (Utkarsh Sharma) after they escape Pakistan. The preparation for the film began two years ago when Sunny approved the idea for a sequel. Back in 2001, Gadar: Ek Prem Katha had set the cash registers ringing and this time, too, the team plans to invest the same honesty and diligence into their project.
Recalling the time when Anil and he worked together on Gadar: Ek Prem Katha, Sunny says, “Few people would know this. There’s a real-life love story of Boota Singh which became the thread of our story back then, Of course, we went way beyond it. When Sharmaji (Anil Sharma) had first told me about Gadar…I had told him that Papa was a film similar to it. Unfortunately or fortunately, that film never got made. Boota Singh’s love story inspired us but we gave it our own spin. Our film went much further.”
Two decades ago, Sunny and Anil faced severe heat and criticism from the industry and critics for their patriotism-meets-romance story set in the pre and early post-Independence years. Bring this up and Sunny says, “Humne toh ji wo banaya jo humein accha lag raha tha. When the film was shown to select sets, people found the music and the look of the film outdated, but we loved it. At a trial that we had, I was advised to dub the film in Hindi before releasing it. Picture lagne se pehle, yeh sab ho raha tha. But it didn’t shake our belief in what we had made. The initial reaction was, ‘Yaar yeh dated lag rahi hai’. I would have owned two territories’ distribution rights if my friends whose sense of judgement I trusted hadn’t thumbed it down. But the day the film was up in the theatres, it won the hearts of the audience. They took a piece of it home and today, it’s their film. The industry and the critics didn’t like our film. Despite the box office numbers, no one acknowledged the film at any award show that year. Sharmaji and I are not the kind of people who go to places and discuss a film. By the time Gadar: Ek Prem Katha was released, I was already shooting something else. The film did all the talking by itself. To this day, the film works great numbers on TV and people still enjoy the innocence and the heartfelt emotions of the movie. I have done so many films and I always like to go with my heart. I don’t believe in the concept of showing off how much I know and what all I am capable of. If the film needs it, it will come from my core. A film is like a child that belongs to an entire team. You have to make it your own, raise it well. Jab sab accha hoga, tabhi ek acchi picture banegi.”
Director Anil Sharma, whose son played Tara Singh’s child, says, “We had over 50 trials and the film was not getting sold. The industry didn’t understand it. There was a distributor who had bought the distribution rights for Gadar… After the first trial with a hundred people in attendance, he said, ‘Mera paisa wapas kar do, mujhe yeh film nahi chahiye.’ He owned a big company at that time. He’s no more. The belief was that Sunny Deol should be somewhere fighting the bad guys and firing a gun. What is he doing with a sarangi and love ballads? I remember, shortly before the release Sunny saab had a trial in Chandan cinema. A thousand people saw it and all they did was clap, whistle, paise uda rahe the screen pe and what not! They loved it. Eventually, the film got the cash registers flowing with numbers. Theatres ran packed to capacity for weeks. One theatre owner actually called fearing uska theatre public ki bheed se toot jayega. And then, I saw a review which called my film Gutter: Ek Prem Katha. I kept it aside because the public verdict was already pretty clear. Gadar 2 is the kind of film that will bring people back to the theatres in today’s scenario where people want a compelling film to watch on the big screen. One of our reasons to make the film now is to bring the audience into cinemas. The idea is to make films that are worthy of the big screen experience. A story like ours fits that spot very well.”
Given that Sunny’s father Dharmendra was offered a film, similar to Gadar…, is it likely that he could become a part of the Gadar sequel? When asked, Sunny laughs and says, “I don’t think so…every film has a journey and it goes through its rounds of preparation. We’re all set for the Gadar sequel and papa is not going to be a part of it. But there will be another film soon and we’ll get together for it.”