Dharmendra film is a family affair

We sit down with the stars of the film Yamla Pagla Deewana 2, which features the superstar Dharmendra with his two sons, Sunny and Bobby Deol, together on screen for the first time.

Bobby Deol, Dharmendra and Sunny Deol, were in Dubai Wednesday to promote their latest film, Yamla Pagla Deewana 2. Pawan Singh / The National
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Even though he's pushing 80, Dharam Singh Deol, better known to fans as Dharmendra, retains the charisma that carried him to the top of Bollywood in the 1960s and 1970s.

The actor commanded the attention of the crowd when he was in Dubai with his sons Sunny and Bobby on Wednesday for the world premiere of their latest film, Yamla Pagla Deewana 2 (YPD2).

The movie is a sequel to the 2011 film Yamla Pagla Deewana (Nutty, Looney, Crazy), a comedy-drama that borrows its title from a song of the same name from Dharmendra's 1975 film Pratigya. The box-office hit was directed by Samir Karnik and featured the father and sons in leading roles.

"The first film we did together was Apne in 2007," Dharmendra says. "After that film, so many people told me: 'Dharam ji, you brought tears to our eyes.' That's not a bad thing, but I wanted to make people laugh with the next film we did together. So we made Yamla Pagla Deewana in 2011 as a mix of comedy, romance and action."

Action, of course, is what audiences expect from a Dharmendra film. With almost 250 films to his credit since his 1960 debut with Dil Bhi Tera Hum Bhi Tere, he has made a mark for himself as an action hero; he has been fondly referred to as the He-Man of Bollywood.

Dharmendra chuckles when reminded of this title, and says that, at his age, he has to take it easy.

"But I can still dance," he says, adding that he might not be the best of dancers, but the whole point is to have fun.

Sunny Deol, the elder son, quips: "Papa is the most fearless dancer. He dances from his heart and that's why people love it when he dances. He dances like nobody is watching."

And Dharmendra certainly shakes a leg in the film, alongside the starlet Neha Sharma and the Australian-model, actress and Bollywood debutante Kristina Akheeva.

"Sequels are a fairly recent trend in Bollywood," says Bobby Deol. "When Sunny did Ghayal in 1990, it was a huge hit and would have been perfect for a sequel, but at the time there was really no concept of sequels. Nowadays, if you strike lucky with a combination of storyline and a set of actors on screen, then a sequel is a pretty good way to take that success forward. The audience loved Yamla Pagla Deewana so much that we had to bring the characters back. It's a brand-new storyline, though."

The Deol family element in YDG2 doesn't end with the father and sons; the next generation also pitches in. Sunny says his son Karan Deol is too young to enter the film industry, but he has assisted Sangeeth Sivan in directing the film and even loaned his voice to a rap song featuring his father.

"Karan will only enter the industry when I am 100 per cent sure that he is ready for it," says Sunny. "He has worked very hard assisting Sangeeth this time and has learnt a lot. I am pretty sure that within a year's time he will be ready."

A year is probably how long it would take to turn Yamla Pagla Deewana into a trilogy. Can we expect a third instalment of the series, featuring the youngest Deol?

The question makes all three Deols laugh. Dharmendra replies: "I do hope your words come true, but let's just wait and see how well Yamla Pagla Deewana 2 fares with the audience. If they like it as much as they liked the first film, then of course we will go ahead and make that third part."

Yamla Pagla Deewana 2 is in UAE cinemas now. On Wednesday, the Deols took part in various promotional activities in Dubai, including a private lunch with the stars at the Meydan Hotel organised by Lux Cozi and Baqaa Events

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