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Bobby Deol - the resurgence of a childhood hero
- Anish Mohanty           Let us know what you think about this article

Five years back, when Yamla Pagla Deewana 2 was about to release, I remember telling a friend that Bobby Deol looks the fittest and youngest amongst all the leading actors in their 40s. Five years later, the actor is looking even more fit and sharp and the world is acknowledging that. The actor made a comeback of sorts in 'Poster Boys' which released last year but now, he seems to be seriously looking at the possibility of a second innings in films. He has given solo interviews to leading journalists and publications, talking about the phase when he has getting no work and was down in the dumps. He honestly talked about not being serious enough about his career and turning to alcohol during this phase.

Bobby Deol was supposed to make his debut with a film called 'Barsaat', which was to be produced by his home banner Vijeta Films and directed by Shekhar Kapur. Karisma Kapoor was signed on to be the leading lady. After shooting for a couple of days in the year 1991, Shekhar Kapur opted out of the film leaving the cast and the crew in a limbo. The film was revived four years later with a new heroine (Twinkle Khanna) and Rajkumar Santoshi who agreed to helm the film as a director. The film was a fairly good entertainer with some striking camerawork by Santosh Sivan and a mellifluous soundtrack by Nadeem-Shravan. Apart from being a commercial success, 'Barsaat' also fetched Bobby Deol a Filmfare award for 'Best Debut'. Bobby was noticed for his charming looks and unlike the other two Deols (Dharmendra and Sunny) he could shake a leg. Two years later, in 1997, he had two releases. While 'Gupt', a musical thriller by Rajeev Rai turned out to be a success, 'Aur Pyaar Ho Gaya' (best remembered for being Aishwarya Rai Bachchan's debut film and a lovely score by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan) was a dud at the box-office. He had a major solo hit in the form of 'Soldier' (his biggest solo hit till date) which established him as an action hero.

I have memories of watching films like 'Badal', 'Bichhoo' with a large group of people on our television set at home. I was living in Hazaribagh, a small town in the state of Jharkhand. I had so many friends of mine who were fans of Deol and would repeat dialogues from his action films that played regularly on television. These were films that might have been looked down upon by the urban crowd but in the hinterland, they attracted audiences in hordes to theatres. These films had some really popular songs too. Remember "Na Milo Humse Zyaada" ('Badal') and 'Tote Tote Ho Gaya" ('Bichhoo'). His massy films, replete with all the trappings of commercial Hindi cinema, got very good ratings on television too. From 1997 to 2002, Bobby had a slew of hits and a bunch of failures as well. But, he was very much in the reckoning what with his performance in the Abbas-Mustan directed thriller 'Humraaz' getting him a 'Best Actor' award nomination at Filmfare Awards. Ironically, 'Humraaz' would also be his last hit in a long while. After a no-show in 2003, Bobby had three releases ('Kismat', 'Bardaasht' and Ab Tumhare Hawale Watan Saathiyo') all of which tanked at the box-office. Though his films were crashing at the box-office, he had no dearth of work. Every year, he had a bunch of releases every year. Though Bobby had acted alongside Sunny in a film ('Dillagi') directed by the latter, 'Apne' (2007) was the first film that brought Sunny and Bobby together in a film that also featured their father Dharmendra. The three Deols being in a film together turned out to be lucky for Bobby as 'Apne' was his first hit since 'Humraaz'. Interestingly, Bobby's next hit turned out to be a film which brought the three of them together for the second time.

'Yamla Pagla Deewana' was directed by Sameer Karnik, whom Bobby had earlier delivered three flops ('Nanhe Jaisalmer', 'Heroes' and 'Vaada Raha') with. The comedy was a box-office winner. This was a time when Bobby was getting big films but there were certain things that indicated that filmmakers were losing faith in him. Abbas-Mustan, who had cast him in lead roles in films like 'Soldier', 'Humraaz' and 'Naqaab', offered him a much inferior role in 'Players'. One did not get to see him post the interval in the film. He had a fairly substantial role in 'Thank You' but the film was driven by Akshay Kumar who had started his career around the same time as Bobby and was now a much bigger star than him. 'Yamla Pagla Deewana 2' could not replicate the success of the original and this was the time when Bobby realised it was time to introspect.

I have not seen 'Poster Boys' but I do know that the actor portrayed the character of a simpleton, far removed from the kind of heroic characters he had played throughout his career. The actor was clearly in a mood to reinvent himself. Now, with Salman Khan lending him support, a big release ahead of him and two important films to follow it up with, Bobby Deol seems to be telling the world - "I am back and I am here to stay."


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