According to Sunny Deol, his home production, Yamla Pagla Deewana’s, success has given him the “courage to go ahead and experiment”. “I want to follow my father’s (Dharmendra) foot steps and do films like Hrishikesh Mukherji’s Satyakam (1969),” says the actor, who wants to move beyond his action image, which he feels limits his roles. Planning a paradigm shift from the parts he normally portrays, Deol has signed three non-action films this year. The first is Chandraprakash Dwivedi’s Mohalla Assi, for which Deol would be in Benaras for a 30-day schedule. The actor will interact with pundits and learn Sanskrit for his role as a Hindu priest and teacher in the film. “I am excited to meet the learned men. The outward appearance is done, but the nuances of their mannerisms and dialect can only be learnt by meeting and spending time with them.”
Based on a popular Hindi novel Kashi Ka Assi written by Dr Kashinath Singh, Mohalla Assi has satirical overtones. The story is spread over ten years between 1989 and 1999, and talks about what was happening in the country then and how it affected lives of people in rural India. “I will be speaking in Sanskrit when I teach, otherwise the dialect is in pure Hindi through the film,” says Deol.
The film stars various stage actors and will mark TV actor Sakshi Tanwar’s film debut, as Deol’s wife. “I play a man who has married twice. He is the head of his neighbourhood and a man of rigid principles. The story deals with how he is left behind due to that attitude,” he says, adding that the period film will take audiences through a journey of emotions. “It’ll touch your hearts and make you laugh and cry, but you won’t see me beating 1,000 people.”
The other two films Deol has signed on will be directed by Anil Sharma and Neeraj Pathak, respectively. The projects are yet to be titled.