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'Ghayal Once Again' review: Sincere but severely outmoded!

'Ghayal Once Again' review: Sincere but severely outmoded!

Source: Sify

By: Sonia Chopra

Friday 5 February 2016

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Sunny Deol is back and he's ghayal (wounded) once again! Sadly, so is the film. It's been 26 years since Rajkumar Santoshi directed Ghayal, which got Sunny Deol his first National Award. The iconic film went on to win several awards and also enjoyed commercial success.

Ghayal Once Again begins with a recap of the original - a nice nostalgic touch. Plus, it links nicely to present time. The recap shows Sunny Deol's Ajay being jailed.

In present time, Ajay is now free and works as a journalist and activist. He, and his team, believe in taking action and give the 'out of court settlement' a different meaning.

The film shows us the case of a young girl who commits suicide after her editor boss (Harsh Chhaya) rapes her. Yes, this is that kind of a film. Where the girl writes a tearful letter about how she is ending her life, to save her sisters' future. And so, ironically, while the film thinks it's speaking for women's rights, it chooses to show that the only way ahead for a rape victim is death.

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Then on, we move to the main story. Retired ACP Joe D'Souza (Om Puri) is now an RTI activist and close friends with Ajay. The story moves ahead as D'Souza dies in a road accident. But as coincidence would have it, a group of college kids shooting a documentary discover evidence that he has been murdered.

This awakens the sleeping rage in Ajay and then begins a war between him and fancy-pants businessman Raj Bansal.

As Bollywood clichés go, the hero is righteous and justified in his violence, the villain (somehow always a wealthy businessman) is coolly villainous, the politician is morally bankrupt to the point of being comedic, the girlfriend (Soha Ali Khan) is completely devoted and supportive.

So basically, Ghayal Once Again, written and directed by Sunny Deol, remains a film that's still trapped in the '90s, save the glitzy gizmos that are now used to track, record, tap whatever. Earlier it used to be a video cassette that had the "evidence", now it's a hard disc. Old wine, new bottle.

The fights have moved to crowded malls here, where, bizarrely, Bansal's men chase down the college kids in the midst of the food courts and mall audience. No one does a thing, like scream or call the police.

This scene also defies logic, as the influential Bansal would have wanted to keep his misdoings discreet, and this is anything but! In any case, most of this character's dialogue involves screaming...'TROOOYYY!' the name of his white security fellow.

Adding the college kids to the mix is interesting. However, their characterizations are too straitjacketed to make an impact. Like in the midst of the mall chase, a girl rescues her male friend on a bicycle. And in the middle of the men chasing them, she is made to do that old Bollywood cliché of getting down, moving in the rear seat, and letting him take charge. I've lost count of the number of older films one has seen this, but it was amusing to see this scene in a current film.

The film does have a few nice touches. The personal world of our villain absorbs us with its dilemmas. Bansal (Narendra Jha) is an interestingly crafted character. He lives in a mansion with a swimming pool that has his initials written on it. We notice the small flourishes like his hiding the alcohol glass, when his little daughter comes to talk to him; his wife who supports him under duress; his problems with his son, who has gone out of hand; and disagreements with his mother, who is dismissive of his ways.

How one wishes the central character was written with at least that much thought. We see the emotional arch only much later. Essentially, you see Sunny Deol, fit at 58, doing stunt gimmicks like hanging off a train, hijacking a helicopter and so on. In the end, his "dhai kilo ka haath" makes an appearance as well.

And so while Sunny Deol makes for a fairly powerful performer, his filmmaking style is sincere, but keen to stick to the old-school, and rough around the edges. The film is earnest and has a few genuine, emotional moments, but is defeated by an outmoded viewpoint and look. It had the potential to be so much more.

Rating: 2.5 stars