IFFI 2023: Sunny dazzles with a dash of humanness

An evening of tears, laughter and fan interaction with Sunny Deol at the 54th International Film Festival of India
An evening of tears, laughter and conversation with Rahul Rawail, Rajkumar Santoshi, Sunny Deol and Anil Sharma.
An evening of tears, laughter and conversation with Rahul Rawail, Rajkumar Santoshi, Sunny Deol and Anil Sharma. Photo: KD

Nobody, not even he himself, could have anticipated the evening that Bollywood actor, Sunny Deol, had in store for his fans at the Kala Academy.

The actor was in conversation with Indian film director, producer and screenwriter, Rajkumar Santoshi; Indian film director and producer; Anil Sharma and Indian film director and editor; Rahul Rawail at the 54th International Film Festival of India in Goa.

Sunny Deol soaking it all in at the 54th International Film Festival of India.
Sunny Deol soaking it all in at the 54th International Film Festival of India. Photo: KD

What started off as a shower of compliments on Sunny, had the actor choked up by the time it was his turn to pick up the mic and speak. "Off late I just get too emotional, it’s my problem,” sniffled the actor as the silence that filled the auditorium soon dissolved into a comforting round of applause from the audience.

“That’s Sunny for you, he has a rare combination of being a macho, strong and vulnerable man, all in one,” shared Rajkumar, as the three dignitaries took turns to explain how behind the very masculine exterior, Sunny Deol is a very sensitive and empathetic person.

Rajkumar Santoshi sharing experiences at IFFI.
Rajkumar Santoshi sharing experiences at IFFI. Photo: KD

“There is this sense of vulnerability that Sunny has. Even on screen, the characters he plays are strong, but have a vulnerable side to them,” explained Rahul Rawail.

Although most of the session felt like a candid conversation and a long overdue get-together, the dignitaries also spoke about what it is like working with Sunny and shared several anecdotes while appreciating his films like Betaab, Yateem, Gadar and Ghayal.  

An evening of tears, laughter and conversation with Rahul Rawail, Rajkumar Santoshi, Sunny Deol and Anil Sharma.
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“The industry never really understood the real potential of Sunny Deol,” stated Anil and went on to add that he is positive that the day Sunny gets the right script, his performance will not only surpass the boundary, but will fly out the stadium."

Sunny also explained that when it comes to deciding whether or not he will do a film, one of the first and most important parts of the selection process is to see whether he connects and resonates with the story that the film is trying to narrate. And, although it is a rather large factor, the commercial aspect of the film is not as big a deciding factor for him.

An evening of tears, laughter and conversation with Rahul Rawail, Rajkumar Santoshi, Sunny Deol and Anil Sharma.
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Once the session ended, the ten-minute audience question slot was extended beyond its allotted time and turned into a wholesome interaction that again, included a few tears, a lot of laughter, and a couple of people running on-stage to click pictures with Sunny, who willingly gave away comforting hugs.

Not forgetting the dance session on stage that not only lightened the mood but also made everybody forget how it was already past the session time.  

Totally unexpectedly, the evening of November 21, 2023 was a memorable one that not only humanized the star, but also brought it down to just one universal truth – we are all human beings before anything else.

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