Apne if viewed as a movie would at best rate in the B+ category. But there is something deeper in the movie if view it through the eyes of the Deol family.
Dharmendra plays Baldev Singh an Olympic boxing medallist whose dreams of becoming a World champion are short circuited by doping allegations. He tries to train his son Angad ( Sunny paaji) to become a boxer but Angad after some years of training thinks its a worthless sport and becomes an exporter. The hurt never leaves him and he leads a cribby existence. He never forgives his son and keeps tokofying and kosfying from time to time. His another son Bobby with his lethal locks has a physical disability and is forced to become a singer.
Then comes a special boxing format due to some clever media mogul where 1 boxer from each country is chosen and in the finals would fight Luca the world champion aka killing machine. So Bobby Deol miraculously overcomes his handicap, trains to be a boxer and meets the champion in the final. The champion plays foul again and Bobby is badly injured fighting for his life.
Enter Sunny paaji. Looking 45, playing 35, with borrowed hair and with a paunch that rivals any halwai, he challenges the champion. And in a month, he gains the stamina and those blood red eyes full of anger to deliver the most lethal of punches.
Obviously as a boxing story, the movie is wildly stretched inspite of good cinematography and action choreography. But what elevates the movie a notch is the emotional family drama and bonding between the characters. The old world love between Dharmendra and Kiron Kher, Kiron Kher and the eldest son, the eldest son desparate for his fathers love, the supremely affectionate bahu in Shipa Shetty and the brotherly bond between Sunny and Bobby.
Dharmendra is mind blowing showing the complete range of emotions and holds the movie together with consummate ease. The metaphor in Baldev Singh is Dharmendra's career as an actor itself. How colosally has an actor of such tremendous potential been wasted in Bollywood just to be feted with Lifetime Achievement Awards. When he speaks emotionally in such award functions like the recently concluded IIFA awards, there is an underlying frustration of a man who could have done so much more. From a dream start in Satyakam, the family romantic , the man with great flair for comedy was stereotyped to a Garam Dharam only to fume kutte kameene at villains. But one needs to accept some blame for wrong decisions and allowing the stereotype to prevail.
The same fate is happening to his eldest son, Sunny paaji. If there was ever a performance that defined the late 80s , it was a man shouting from a jail against Balwant Rai and a man who fought a court case for Damini. But again he has stereotyped himself, working with only directors like Guddu Dhanoa and Anil Sharma who pander to his ego. No actor can show as much anger in his eyes as Sunny can do and that is still visible in Apne. Frankly Sunny should look at doing the roles that Mamooty is currently doing in Malayalam nowadays, there is some good remake potential . Else he is also going to face a career similar to his dad. As for Bobby, he can first look at cutting his hair and toning his body .
Shilpa Shetty the another actress who was wasted is now reinventing herself. Her performances in Metro and Apne finally show her ability to emote rather than just doing jhatkas. Watch her cute jhatkas when JazzyB is playing on TV and she has learnt to underplay as well. Frankly she has a better figure than Rani and Preity, and her acting has improved a lot, Big Brother nothwithstanding. She needs to move into that A list soon.
Apne only recommended if you have some heart for the Deolian rajma...