For those who voted for the MP from Gurdaspur based on his showreel, this week has not been a disappointment. At a series of public meetings across Punjab, meant to address the problems facing people in the state, Sunny Deol delivered some of his greatest hits. He can be seen in videos screaming into a microphone, without context, “Tareekh pe tareekh! Tareekh pe tareekh!” from Damini, in which the BJP MP played a lawyer who fights in court with his words and on the streets with his muscles. He even danced to a hit song from Gadar, displaying conclusively that confidence will outmatch ability every time. But it is when Deol seemed to suggest that his on-screen persona had a bearing on political reality that he caused controversy.
Apart from saying “jab ye dhai kilo ka haath kisi pe padta hai, woh uthta nahi… uth jata hai” (when this 2.5 kg-hand hits you, you don’t just rise up, you rise to the heavens), MP Sunny said that “there is no one better than me in beating people up”. The provocation for this statement, according to Deol, was the fact that state government employees (the Congress is in government in the state) have been telling people that “they voted for the wrong person”. This comes on the heels of “missing” posters featuring Deol cropping up in Gurdaspur, alluding to his spending a bulk of his time away from the constituency.
While many, including local Congress leaders, have taken exception to Deol’s barely veiled allusion to violence, they seem to have missed the point. Like many actors from the 1980s and 1990s, Deol played himself, or a version of himself, on screen, rather than morphing into a character. During the 2019 campaign he took this a step further, even producing a hand-pump, a reference to the quasi-comical weapon from Gadar used to defeat practically the whole Pakistan army. And he won. Can anyone blame him for thinking that the famed “dhai kilo ka haath” is enough to silence the political opposition as well?
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