If you are new to Bollywood, you might have trouble engaging with the 1990 action drama Ghayal. It feels old school Bollywood. Yet if you stick with it long enough you discover a powerful drama about truth and justice. As the wounded Ajay Mehra (Sunny Deol) seeks to punish nefarious businessman Balwant Rai (Amrish Puri) and his cronies for their many crimes, you find yourself cheering on this action hero through to the last frame. The film became a superhit for Sunny Deol.
More than 25 years later, Sunny Deol brings Ajay Mehra back and does so with force and conviction in Ghayal Once Again. If you haven't seen Ghayal, you may miss out on some of the references - especially those told in flashback. However, you can still enjoy this update whether or not you've seen the first film.
After having served his time in prison for the murder of Balwant Rai, Ajay has spent the last ten years building "Satyakam" ("true work"), a newspaper that focuses on putting facts above sensationalism. Ajay has formed a special bond with ACP Joe D'Souza (Om Puri), the honest cop who recognized Mehra's plight early on and chose to support him as a friend and colleague. Joe D'Souza is one of the few remaining people in Ajay's life who Mehra can truly count on.
Painful memories of his past haunt Ajay, incapacitating him at times. After electroshock therapy, he has improved; however, his girlfriend and psychiatrist Rhea (Soha Ali Khan) is there to help him through times of duress. Despite his mental wounds, he has surreptitiously managed to pull together a close-knit team that uses technology and underground tactics to catch and expose those who abuse their power at the expense of others.
Enter four teenagers who believe in truth and justice for all. When they unknowingly record a murder, they find themselves running for their lives from rich businessman Raj Bansal (Narendra Jha) who has his own team of expert computer hackers and army of goons. Despite their best attempts at escape and Ajay's intervention, they are eventually captured. Their lives are on the line if they don't turn over the recording.
Sunny Deol puts plenty of action into this updated story of truth and justice. Once you get past the introduction of all the players and the crime, Sunny Deol gives ample space to the new kids on the block to participate in some gritty chase sequences as they try to evade capture by Bansal's henchmen. These are kids running for their life from men trained to hunt down and capture anyone their boss designates. While the goons are driven, so are the teenagers. They give their pursuers a run for their money.
Ajay Mehra soon follows suit with action sequences which show he is unstoppable. He evades a pursuer by driving his car through a brick wall and past an oncoming train. He pilots a helicopter into a highrise. And when the goons say, "Now we're going to kill you ... with our bare hands," Ajay proves them wrong when he turns the table on them.
In the end, Ajay Mehra once again suffers for truth and wins. But this time he doesn't just find justice, he discovers redemption. By the conclusion of the film, Ajay Mehra learns that perhaps he has a chance to rebuild his life in a way he never thought possible. In the end, he may have found a way for his wounds to truly begin to heal.
As director, writer and star, Sunny Deol has managed to create a film that is a true companion to the original. While Ghayal Once Again isn't the most important movie to come out of Bollywood this year, it is one of the most action-packed - and offers some darn good viewing. This sequel was definitely worth the 25-year wait.
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