Sunny Deol (born Ajay Singh Deol, 19 October 1956) is an Indian film actor, director and producer known for his works exclusively in Hindi cinema. He is the son of veteran actor Dharmendra, and the elder brother of actor Bobby Deol and Esha Deol and Ahana Deol
In a film career spanning over thirty years, Deol has won two National Film Awards, and two Filmfare Awards. Box Office India listed Deol as the overall star of the nineties.
Deol made his debut in the film Betaab for which he was nominated for the Filmfare Award for Best Actor. From there, he went on to star in numerous films in the 1980s and 90s like Tridev, Arjun, Kroadh, Ghayal, Vishwatma, Lootere, Darr, Damini – Lightning, Jeet, Ghatak, Border, Ziddi, Arjun Pandit, and Indian. He made his debut as a director and producer with Dillagi, in which he also starred alongside his brother Bobby. Deol made his debut opposite fellow debutante Amrita Singh in Betaab (1982), which was a blockbuster that launched the careers of both actors. His performance won him his first Filmfare Best Actor Award Nomination.
With his portrayal of an amateur boxer wrongly accused of his brother's murder in Rajkumar Santoshi's Ghayal, Sunny added another hit movie to his movie career. Produced by the home banner Vijayta Films, the movie was an instant hit with the masses and went on to win seven Filmfare Awards. His performance won him Filmfare Award for Best Actor and also National Film Award – Special Jury Award / Special Mention (Feature Film). In 1991, Sunny starred in about five films but only Narsimha was a success. Rajiv Rai's Vishwatma in which he acted opposite Divya Bharti, was Sunny's only release in 1992. His role of a lawyer in Damini – Lightning (1993) fetched him several awards and accolades including National Film Award for Best Supporting Actor and Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor. In 1993, he starred in Yash Chopra's blockbuster Darr with Juhi Chawla. In the mid-nineties he delivered four big hits in a row Jeet (1996), Ghatak: Lethal (1996), Ziddi (1997) and Border (1997) In 1999, after starring opposite Juhi Chawla in Arjun Pandit, Sunny Deol tried his hand at direction and helmed Dillagi. He also acted alongside younger brother Bobby Deol and Urmila Matondkar in his directorial debut.
In 2001, he starred in the film Farz opposite Preity Zinta. Sunny played the role of lorry driver Tara Singh who falls in love with a Muslim girl played by Ameesha Patel in Anil Sharma's Gadar: Ek Prem Katha. The partition saga went to become an all-time blockbuster and was the highest grossing Bollywood film ever at that time as well as the biggest hit of the 21st century, earning Rs 973 million in India. He won Screen Award for Best Actor and was nominated for the Filmfare Best Actor Award for his portrayal. His third release that year saw him playing the title role in the action film Indian, a remake of the Tamil film Vallarasu in which Sunny played the character of DCP Rajshekhar Azad, an honest police officer. The movie was a success. Sunny's next few projects were extremely patriotic in nature and struck a chord with audiences across the country. He played the role of an Indian military officer in Maa Tujhhe Salaam and played the character of freedom fighter Chandrashekhar Azad in 23rd March 1931: Shaheed.
Sunny Deol was born Ajay Deol into a Sikh Jat family in the village of Sahnewal in Punjab, India to Bollywood actor Dharmendra and Prakash Kaur.
He has a younger brother Bobby Deol and two sisters Vijayta and Ajeeta who are settled in California. His step-mother is Hema Malini, through whom he has two paternal half-sisters, actress Esha Deol and Ahana Deol. His cousin Abhay Deol is also an actor.
Deol made his debut in the 1983 romantic film Betaab in which role he was praised and he was nominated for best actor at Filmfare Awards. Deol has appeared in Rahul Rawail's Arjun (1985), in which he played the titular role of an unemployed youngster. The film went on to become a major hit and established Deol's status as an action hero. In 1986 he appeared alongside his father in Sultanat. In the final years of the decade he appeared in several hits including Dacait (1987), Yateem (1988) and Paap Ki Duniya (1988). In 1989, he had back to back hits with Rajiv Rai's Tridev and Pankaj Parashar's ChaalBaaz. He even won his first Filmfare Award for Best Actor in Rajkumar Santoshi's 1990 film Ghayal. He paired with Aditya Pancholi in Vishnu-Devaa (1991). From 1992-1997, he gave back to back hits with films like Lootere, Darr, Jeet, Ghatak, Border and Ziddi. In 1999 he made his directorial debut with Dillagi starring himself, his brother and Urmila Matondkar.
His first hit in the millennium was Anil Sharma's 2001 film Gadar. In 2003 he teamed up with director Anil Sharma yet again for The Hero: Love Story of a Spy, which also starred Preity Zinta and Priyanka Chopra. Released on 11 April, The Hero was billed as Bollywood's most expensive film at that time with an estimated budget of ₹600 million (US$9.4 million). The film became the third highest-grossing Bollywood film of that year. Sunny appeared alongside his father Dharmendra and Bobby Deol together for the first time in Apne (2007), and then yet again in Yamla Pagla Deewana.
Deol's first release of 2010 was Neeraj Pathak's crime thriller Right Yaaa Wrong which had him playing a police inspector. The film received mixed reviews and performed poorly at the box office. Yamla Pagla Deewana was Sunny's only release in 2011 and was one of the biggest successes of the year. In 2011, he started working in Radhika Rao and Vinay Sapru's I Love NY opposite Kangana Ranaut and in Chandraprakash Dwivedi's Mohalla Assi opposite Sakshi Tanwar, but due to some reason both films have been delayed. For the first time in his career, Sunny lent his voice (for Bheem) in the Animated film Mahabharata; produced by Jayantilal Gada of PEN India Pvt Ltd. His future venture is Neeraj Pathak's Bhaiyyaji Superhitt (where he plays a double role for the first time). His next film Yamla Pagla Deewana 2 which was released June 2013, was not appreciated by critics and viewers, although his role in "Paramveer" was appreciated by everyone. This film earns just US$6.7 million whereas Yamla Pagla Deewana earns US$14 million. In the end of 2013 Sunny's movie Singh Saab The Great was loved massively and created a big pandemonium in the cinema hall as well as on Facebook. I Love NY was released in 2015 and failed to attract audiences and favourable reviews. His latest release in 2016 was Ghayal Once Again which is a sequel to his 1990 film Ghayal and is the second film directed by him.
Deol is married to Pooja Deol and the couple has two sons, Karan and Rajveer. Karan was an assistant director on Yamla Pagla Deewana 2 and has rapped in a song sung by Diljit Dosanjh in the film. Karan Deol is set to make his Bollywood debut with the Hindi language feature film "Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas", presented by Dharmendra & Zee Studio to be produced by Sunny Sounds Pvt. Ltd.
Apart from National Film Awards, Filmfare Awards and other competitive awards which Deol won for his performances throughout the years, he has been awarded several honours for his achievements in the Indian film industry.
In August 2013, a news article stated that Deol provided the voice for Vin Diesel's character Richard B. Riddick in the Hindi dubbed version of the American film Riddick, which is the third in the film series.