Ghayal Once Again comes out tomorrow! I am not terrible optimistic about it. But just in case it ends up getting great reviews and revitalizes Sunny’s career and all that, I thought you should all know more or less what happens in Ghayal.
I watched Ghayal, while also answering emails and doing dishes, about a week ago. My memory may not be as good as usual, but I think I can remember the general details of most scenes, and some scenes I remember real well. So, let’s see how I do, and if I can manage to do the whole thing in one post!
(UPDATE: Summary finished! Read part 2 here)
Ghayal has a really great opening. Like, all time good. Even the first shot is awesome. The camera is looking through the back window of a police transport van, through the bars. Then there is a shot of light as the front door is opened, which is quickly blocked out by a guard who throws Sunny into the van, and towards the camera. Freeze-frame! GHAYAL.
And then the awesome continues. Sunny, shirtless, dragging rocks like in that one scene that was cut from Sholay but we still have the stills. Sunny, passionately doing push-ups in his cell. Sunny, chopping up wood into tiny little pieces (why? why so small?). Sunny, doing pull-ups on a rod in the cell as it storms outside. The credits have been going on this whole time, by the way. And over the image of shirtless sunny doing pull-ups, we have “PRODUCED BY DHARMENDRA”. Which feels like it is just begging for a double meaning.
And then we see him sleeping (finally! He must be so tired by now!), and having weird photo negative dreams. A woman crying, a truck trying to run him over, stuff like that. Finally, he wakes up screaming! At which point his cellmates go “geez, man, what is up with you?” No, really, that’s what happens. But Sunny is all resolute and won’t share his problems. So, they offer to tell their stories first. It’s all basically the same story. Came to Bombay, needed food and money, the city corrupted them, they became mass murderers. Now, I have been living in a major city on my own since I was 18. And I have to say, I have never found myself in a situation where the only solution was to murder. Of course, I’m not living in Bombay, maybe it is different there.
After hearing all their sob stories, Sunny’s reaction is “wow, you guys are losers! It wasn’t anything like that for me, my life was awesome!” Again, really, that is his reaction. And then he proceeds to tell them all how awesome his life was, in detail. And, song! He is wearing a bright flowered shirt to signify his happiness. It’s not the best look. And the girl is played by Meenakshi Seshadri, the girl who was launched opposite Jackie in Hero (Not Hero: Love Story of a Spy. The other movie that is just “Hero“. Not the remake with the amazing theme song, the original). She had a very eighties career, starting as a teenager, mostly girlfriend in action movies with a couple of really good female centered roles in the middle, and then married and retired around 30. Now she runs a dance school in New Jersey.
So, song, happiness, love, walking through the public gardens in Bombay, Sunny doesn’t have to dance, you know the drill. It ends with them riding double on Sunny’s motorcycle. He drops her at her house and she says something about “can’t I come home with you?” And I think “really? you like him that much? in that shirt?” But she’s not trying to be sexy, she’s trying to be virtuous. She wants to be married like ASAP. Because her family is “gone” (unclear if they are dead or just live far away) and she wants to have a family again and movie in with him. Awwwww! We thought she was a hussy because she strolled in the public gardens with a man in a flowered shirt, but actually she is sweet!
Sunny promises to talk to his Bhabhi about it tomorrow, and then she will win over his brother, and they can be married! And if you can’t trust a man who takes you to Public Gardens on his motorcycle, who can you trust?
Oh, look at that, he’s actually going to talk to his Bhabhi! I was pretty sure it was a just a line. But, nope! He has a whole plan. Bhabhi (played by Moushumi Chatterjee who just got a special award at FilmFare and was so good as the aunt in Piku) is cutting vegetables in the kitchen. He comes up behind her and points out how much work it is around the house, if only there was someone to help! Bhabhi agrees, and asks if he is offering to find her a maid. No, not a maid, but someone in the family, you know. Bhabhi is no fool and immediately goes “I’m not talking to your brother for you! If you are in love, you have to bring it up yourself!” But of course, she is a Bhabhi, so he is able to win her over.
So she goes to Bhaiya, who is RAJ BABBAR! Who was also in LOC Kargil, by the way, but I didn’t mention it. Poor Raj Babbar, he is one of the many many actors who’s personal life eclipsed his professional fame. Instead of seeing him onscreen and going “Oh Raj Babbar! He was pretty good in some sort of artsy movies in the 80s, and then became a decent second lead type character actor,” I always see him onscreen and think “Oh Raj Babbar! You left your wife for Smita Patil, got Smita pregnant, she died giving birth to your son, and then you abandoned the baby to be raised by Smita’s mother and returned to your first wife!” But in this movie, he is a responsible family man who does not, presumably, have a second household somewhere with a pregnant super famous actress mistress, so I am going to try to set all this aside!
Bhabhi comes to talk to him and says pretty straight out “Sunny has some girl he wants to marry.” Raj Babbar takes a moment (this is actually a pretty good acting beat, you think he is just dealing with all the emotions of his little brother being big enough to think about marriage, but we later find out he might have other reasons that would also make him hesitate). But, ultimately, he’s cool with it, and has Bhabhi call Sunny into the room. And Sunny doesn’t respond, of course, until Raj Babbar pulls out the “Bhaiya” voice and calls him in, at which point he zips into the room, already on his knees, hands clasped. It’s kind of a funny image.
Also surprisingly subtle (or maybe my subtle-o-meter has been broken by the whole PRODUCED BY DHARMENDRA thing), is the back and forth between the 3 family members. Raj Babbar puts on the stern big brother face, and Sunny gets scared off and claims he only wants to get married because Bhabhi wants him to get married. He’s making faces at Bhabhi trying to win her over to going along with this, Bhabhi is making faces back at him that he should be ashamed! Meanwhile, Raj Babbar is making faces at his wife like “can you believe this?” and she is making faces back like “No! You should make him suffer for lying about me like this!” It’s the perfect family dynamic in miniature! Sunny respects and fears his big brother, but loves his Bhabhi, Bhabhi loves him but loves her husband more, husband loves wife but his first priority is messing with little brother. And in case we didn’t get it, there is even a reference to Ram-Lakshman-Sita in the dialogue!
After doing their little “This is what a family should be like!” instructional video, they settle down to actually discussing the question of Sunny’s marriage. Bhabhi is all for it, marriage is a wonderful thing! Raj Babbar is more doubtful (yeah Raj Babbar! If anyone knows the problems that can arise in a marriage, it is you!). Raj Babbar thinks Sunny should first win the boxing collegiate championship, and then think about marriage. Huh! So I guess boxing was a thing even before Mary Kom!
And in the middle of this, Bhabhi’s avuncular uncle, a lawyer, arrives and joins in the debate. Apparently, he is the family’s only “elder” in the area, and he makes all sorts of jokes about how they should have consulted him and stuff. But, inevitable conclusion, yes Sunny can get married! But he should win the boxing thing first. But they can now be engaged.
And we are back in a Public Garden! And Sunny is wearing a ridiculous hat. Like, it’s definitely a joke, but they never explain it, so it is just confusing. It’s straw, with a big flower on it, all Carmen Miranda-like (by the way, Carmen Miranda is awesome! So much more than just hats! If you’ve only see the “Lady in the Tutti-Fruitti Hat” number, you should watch the whole movie it comes from, The Gangs All Here. Edward Everett Horton being loveably prim, Alice Faye being adorable, Benny Goodman as himself, and a support the troops WWII message that is so corny it swings back around to being touching. And Carmen’s character is really sweet, a sort of angel of chaos that fixes everything in the end).
(See? So corny it becomes touching! Also, I love Alice Faye)
Oh right, Ghayal! Sunny gives Meenakshi a whole monologue about how his brother objected! His Bhabhi cried! A gun came out! But he remained steadfast in his love and won them all over. All of this while he is still wearing the big flowered hat. But, she is totally into it. It must really be true love! And once he finishes his whole speech, he ends with saying they agreed! And then lifts her up in the air and spins her around to celebrate. It’s like that scene in Hero: Love Story of a Spy when he rescues Priety, but cute and happy instead of action-y. Celebration over, she immediately reminds him that they can have fun later, now he needs to prepare for his big match tomorrow against the University champion. Sunny is all “oh who cares! I’m Sunny Deol! Produced by Dharmendra! I can beat everybody with my hand behind my back.” And he does. We cut straight to the match, and he wins it immediately. And then is called into the coach’s office and told that he was accepted into the special boxing training camp! Everything’s coming up Sunny!
But Raj Babbar is not having such an easy time of it. He explains to his wife, again in a really well-acted scene, that he is horribly in debt. The business is in real trouble, he has had to do “such things he would never imagine”. His wife is all “why didn’t you tell me, you bozo!” But before they can really get into it, Sunny comes into the room all happy about his boxing camp and Raj Babbar gives his wife the high sign not to let Sunny know about any of this. Instead, the two couples go out to celebrate! Beach song! And driving song and weird nightclub with Japanese lanterns and all denim outfits for the ladies! It’s just super 80s, is what I’m saying. Even though this movie came out in 1990.
And, training camp! A bunch of buff guys punching bags. Oh, and there is this whole comedy track I will be ignoring about how Sunny keeps accidentally hurting his coach. It’s exactly as funny as it sounds. But, in the middle of all this, Meenakshi arrives and wants to flirt. Sunny is spooked that his coach will yell at him for being distracted, so they have a cute little fight. It culminates in him following her through the dining area of the hotel where I guess the boxing camp is held? She pretends he is an evil eve-teaser, which gets a big scary guy to threaten him. Which is really kind of jerky of her. It’s just like what Jaya does to Sanjeev in Anamika, but less cute because it’s not Jaya. And, song! Again, just like Anamika. It all ends in laughter instead of tears! Also, boy they really front-loaded the songs in this, didn’t they? 3 already and we haven’t even finished the first hour.
(she just got all those guys to beat him up, but he forgives her, because look how cute she is in her little hat!)
Oh, and the song ends with a super old fashioned image, they are on a street, there is a huge crowd watching, and out of embarrassment, Meenakshi finally admits that she loves him. At the end-end of the song, about 12 people peel off from the crowd and start dancing around Sunny and Meenakshi in chorus. So those are the actual paid crowd people, everyone else is just random locals who saw the filming and started watching and the director went ahead and used them in the scene. This used to happen all the time! From the 50s up through the mid-90s, they would have these street scenes, and there would be a clear line dividing the paid extras in the front, from the random street watchers in the back rows. I miss that. Oh, and there is also a random elephant. I miss that too. Stupid PETA India, getting rid of the ability to pay some guy to just bring in a random elephant for your crowd scene!
Song over, Sunny is crossing the lawn in front of the hotel, and here is Raj Babbar! He does not look good. No tie, unshaven, sort of haggard seeming. And he hugs Sunny really really hard. Like “you know you are brothers, right?” kind of hard. What is up?
Sunny is also wondering what is up. He has to leave for a match, but afterwards he and Meenakshi go back to the hotel Raj mentioned and look for him, but he has already checked out. There’s even a dream scene of Sunny picturing Raj literally being buried. He is awakened from the dream by a phone call from Bombay! Coincidentally, it’s Raj himself! He still doesn’t sound good, he says he is in great trouble! And then the phone call gets cut off. This is not reassuring.
Sunny rushes home to consult with Bhabhi (is the boxing camp over? Or did he just leave early?). Bhabhi is also disturbed, she thought Raj was still out of town on business, why would be be in Bombay but not come home? They think about calling avuncular uncle, but he is out of town! They are on their own, Lakshman and Sita without Ram (they don’t actually say that, but that is the implication, that the center and strength of their family was Raj and they are struggling with what to do without him).
Bhabhi finally breaks his confidence and tells Sunny that Raj was upset about the business, and felt he was being forced to do things. So now Sunny is really worried! He goes to talk to his brother’s assistant, he says he was let go with 3 months salary, that Raj was worried about something, and he heard he went into business Balwant Rai (I’ll just tell you now, Balwant Rai is played by Amrish Puri, so I will be calling him Amrish from now on). So then Sunny goes to Amrish’s office, and is told that Amrish is very busy for the next few months. Next stop, police! Oh Sunny, you fool! The Indian police don’t do anything for you in movies! Unless the hero is actually a police officer. Or a police officer is in love with Kajol.
The police, of course, are completely unsympathetic and uninterested. The officer he is talking to keeps getting distracted by a poor glasses wearing guy in the background who is also looking for help and who the officers keep harrassing. Finally, one of the officers slaps him and knocks his glasses off. Sunny stands, walks over, picks up the glasses, hands them back, and says “Remember this day and this slap until the tears in your eyes wash out this country’s dirt.” Wah! Kya line hai!
We find out later (spoilers!) that the police are actually corrupt, but I kind of wish we could have left it like this, that they are just lazy and self-interested and useless. But first, foreshadowing convo! Sunny is complaining to Meenakshi that such police are useless and should be shot, and he himself would volunteer to do it! Oh, and also that he can’t get in to Amrish Puri. Meenakshi offers that Amrish is making a public appearance tomorrow. Cut to, that same auditorium they use in every movie.
(this auditorium. But with Amrish on stage instead of a little boy and Sunny Deol instead of Shilpa Shetty)
Amrish is giving a speech, he has just donated a ton of money to handicapped children (as a visual aid, we see a bunch of them standing on the stage behind him.). Sunny glowers in the background and manages to catch up with him while he is leaving the building and catch a ride in his car. Amrish is all friendly and offers to speak to the commissioner personally about Raj. And we have about ten seconds of thinking “wait, is Amrish actually going to be a good guy in this?” And then cut to him entering and underground bunker, talking about drug deals with that boxer guy from Ghulam (although this was before Ghulam, so I guess he should really be that boxer guy from Ghayal), and then looking down at Raj Babbar! Tied up and tortured! (well, with a torn shirt, which we all know is movie code for “tortured”)
(the guy in the purple shirt beating up/being beaten up by Aamir Khan here. That’s the boxer guy selling drugs for Amrish Puri)
But Sunny doesn’t know that Raj Babbar is tied up in Amrish Puri’s basement, so he is still searching and searching and searching. There’s a montage. Finally, he gets a clue! Random guy at a bar says “hey, you looking for Raj Babbar? I know something about that! But first, you have to win an underground boxing match for me.” Yes, it is just that abrupt. But there is a good character bit here. All along, since he first started worrying about Raj, Sunny’s clothes have been getting duller and duller. And his attitude has been getting more and more manly. You know, swinging threatening shoulders when he walks? Like that. In this scene, they make the contrast really obvious. His last boxing match was almost a joke, it was in the college auditorium with his girl in the audience, and he won immediately. And here we have an obvious contrast, in a dirt floor underground bar arena, with a bunch of hard looking guys in the audience, fighting for his brother’s life. Sunny’s getting dark! (is there a joke about a solar eclipse there somewhere?)
But, he wins the fight. Of course. And the sketchy guy tells him the whole story, as promised. Amrish Puri “bought” Raj Babbar, himself and his business, to use as a front for Amrish Puri’s business, which was death. For a second I thought we were getting a Murder, Inc. type story. But now, he just means drugs. Which are hidden in sketchy guy’s bar, and the money is laundered through Raj Babbar’s business. But, Raj wanted out! We see him confront Amrish, say he has paid back all his debts, now he wants out, and he has a box of evidence if they don’t leave him alone. Raj! This is a terrible plan! And you can see by the way Sketchy Guy is looking at him in the flashback that Sketchy Guy also thinks this is a terrible plan. But for now, Amrish lets him go, suggesting he takes a few days to think it over. Sketchy Guy says that Raj told him he was going to visit his brother (Sunny), which we saw already so that doesn’t get a flashback, but then he came back to the bar a few days later, in pretty bad shape. And that does get a flashback!
It gets a cool cut too. Sketchy Guy is saying, and looking sincerely upset, that they always met in this bar, they were like kings here. Aw! He actually liked Raj Babbar! And then the camera swings from his face across the table to show Raj Babbar sitting just where Sunny was a second ago. Only, the bar is emptying out and dark, whereas when Sunny and Sketchy Guy are talking, it is brightly lit and crowded. So they must have cut between Sunny asking what happened next and Sketchy Guy getting a close-up as he starts the story, but it was so seamless I didn’t even notice, and it feels like it all magically changed around Sketchy Guy as he remembered it.
But, right, Raj Babbar is all confident that his brother will help, that his brother can do anything. Aw! Big brother pride is the best! Plus, his little brother is Sunny, so he really can do anything. Raj goes over and starts the phone call we heard from Sunny’s end. Bet as he is talking, we see Ghulam guy walking by, pausing as he overhears, then turning, reaching out, and sucker punching poor Raj Babbar! And in the foreground, a hand comes down and hangs up the phone. Really, this film is very well-shot.
Oh, and then everyone beats up Raj Babbar while Sketchy Guy can just sit there and watch. And they keep asking him where he kept all the anti-Amrish evidence. And we are out of flashback! Sketchy Guy still sincerely upset just remembering. And, he lays it out for Sunny, at this point either Raj has told what he knows and been killed. Or, he is alive and being tortured. Oh, and also, by the way Sunny, the guys who beat up your brother and maybe killed him are here right now, drinking in the area below. Shockingly, Sunny is not cool with this!
So, massive fight scene. He takes on like 30 guys single-handed and destroys the whole place. There is a nice shot setting it up. As you see Sunny’s face change to “let’s go to war” glower, he slowly descends the steps. And then the camera pulls back to show that the crowd is shifting away from the Ghulam guy. But Ghulam guy doesn’t realize that Sunny is coming up behind him. The get him down for a second, and at that moment Sketchy Guy stands up and starts yelling at them to leave him alone! And a couple other guys come up and start dragging him away. He yells for help, Sunny breaks free and runs after, onto the street, destroying a couple of food carts as he goes. But, too late! They already have Sketchy Guy in the back of a car and drive off with him. And before Sunny can give chase (I have complete confidence in Sunny’s ability to chase down and stop a car, by the way), the police show up! And arrest him, of course. Because the police in this movie are terrible!
Sunny agrees, and yells at them the whole time they are dragging him away, transporting him, and throwing him in a cell. And then there is a cool cut, where you see him stop yelling, and go sit in the back of the cell, eyes open, glowering at the world. And it fades to darkness, you see everyone else in the cell who had been standing around in the last shot is now curled up asleep on the floor. But no sleep for Sunny! The anger is burning hard in him.
Cut to, avuncular uncle! Who is being all avuncular about having to bail Sunny out, and how they should have asked for his help earlier. Sunny is out of jail now and sitting with Bhabhi in avuncular uncle’s living room. He is wearing pale clothes, a nice button shirt and white pants. Now that uncle has taken over, Sunny is being pushed back to the nice light-hearted young man role, not that angry tank top and dirty jeans guy we saw being thrown in jail. But, this change isn’t taking. Uncle keeps trying to convince him to leave it all to the “grown-ups”, that he shouldn’t believe Sketchy Guy, that uncle will talk to the commissioner himself and see what can be done.
In case we didn’t get his doubts enough in the last scene, we see him talking it all over with Meenakshi at the sea wall. He doesn’t think uncle can help, he thinks it is his responsibility, it’s been a month and no one seems to care. Meenakshi tries to dissuade him, but Sunny is positive, this is his problem and he must solve it, by any means necessary. He is going to confront Amrish directly.
And, party! Amrish is making small talk in a ridiculous silver tuxedo (not as ridiculous as his purple satin jacket, but still pretty ridiculous). Sunny walks in and says “I need to talk to you. Now” Amrish casually tries to put him off, saying he should talk to his assistant, but Sunny says “No. You. Now.” It’s definitely an “I’m back and I’m bad!” moment. Amrish recognizes the power and turns away to talk with him. But he is still being all smooth and kindly businessman, saying “oh, your brother is still missing? That’s too bad! How can I help?” Sunny is having none of this, and lays it out, tell him where his brother is, or he is telling everyone at the party what he knows. Amrish is so cool, he doesn’t even bat an eye, just has the waiter call for one of his assistants, and leads Sunny into an empty room. Sunny says, again, that he knows all. And he knows what Amrish is “really like”. Amrish let’s his eyes flicker just a bit, giving us a hint of the patented Amrish bug-eye, and says “No, Sunny, you have no idea what I am really like.” Which sure scares me! But Sunny doesn’t blink an eye. Just says “Yeah, whatever, if my brother is harmed, I am coming for you. And these dogs that follow you will be so scared, they will turn tail and run, leaving you unable to bark.” At least, that’s what the subtitles say, but Amrish goes full pop-eye in response, so I think there were probably a few more “dog!”s thrown in. Amrish goes for his throat, so Sunny THROWS HIM THROUGH A WINDOW! It’s very triumphal, but of course, Amrish’s dogs are still with him at the moment, and immediately drag Sunny away, to start a vicious beatdown on him in the rain, in the middle of the street. Just as one of the goons pulls a knife and things look about to get real, a car shows up! It’s Kulbhushan Kharbanda! Who was in a lot of artsy stuff, but you probably know as Aish’s Dad from Jodha-Akbar.
(also, the Raja from Lagaan. So, lots of older authority figures)
In this film, he is the police commissioner! Of whom we have heard so much. Sunny tries to tell him the whole story, but Om is like “TMI! I can’t deal with a missing brother and a conspiracy, I have to deal with the big picture of crime! Go talk to your local precinct!”
And that’s about halfway through! So I am going to stop, but I’ll put up the second half soon, probably tonight. Much faster getting through these silly action movies than the thoughtful thinky movies like DDLJ and Airlift!