All That Glitters…

Having been a witness to launch or rise of many actors and, since people like mainly success stories, those who were launched successfully but could not sustain the initial success, are referred in passing.

The stories about some actors make for interesting reading.

Coinciding with my entry into film trade was the launching of Rishi Kapoor. And, one needs to admire late Raj Kapoor for that. He had a major debacle in Mera Naam Joker (1970) and Dharam Karam (1971) as a producer. His studio was mortgaged. And, yet, he decided to launch his son, Rishi Kapoor, in no way looking like a conventional actor in personality and appearance. It was a love story with a new girl on the block, Dimple Kapadia. The film was Bobby.

Raj Kapoor opted for a different pair of music composers, Laxmikant Pyarelal, his favourite composer team of Shankar Jaikishan, having been broken with the death of Jaikishan in 1971. Bobby’s music was a guarantee to success. I heard it at a friend’s place one evening and bought the LP the first thing next evening. The rest is history as the film want on to celebrate a golden jubilee (50 weeks) and brought to the Hindi film industry as new romantic young hero in Rishi Kapoor.

That was the era of one crore grossers and not 100 crore as it is now. Rishi Kapoor gave three one crore grossers in Bobby, Laila Majnu and Zamane Ko Dikhane Hai.

Dimple Kapadia’s career was stopped short as she soon decided to marry Rajesh Khanna. Also, there was this jinx that the heroines whose first film was a hit, did not amount to much later on. This was proved when Dimple staged her comeback with Ramesh Sippy’s Saagar, followed by other films that could not fare well.

The next one I remember is Mithun Chakraborty. It is said about him that he came to Mumbai under odd circumstances from hyper active communism in Bengal. Again, his looks were not in tune with what Hindi film heroes were made of. He did some modelling under a pseudonym Rana Rays. Mithun, very keen on a film career, did bit roles of an extra (junior artiste), as he called it. An outstanding actor but he was out of just about every frame.

Mithun bagged a National Award for Mrigayaa in 1977. That got his some media coverage but the commercial Hindi film industry does not recognise National Awards because they don’t make films to win awards. His appearances so far were honourably called ‘Guest Appearances’. Mithun got his first decent film in Ravikant Nagaich’s Surakksha. Nagaich was the very man who gave Jeetendra his first hit, Farz, in 1967. Mithun continued as the Indian Bond for a time till he got his first romantic hit in Rajshir’s Tarana in 1979, which ran for a 50 weeks.

Mithun was a ‘Bond’, a romantic hero, a dancer as well as a man who could act as the National Awards prove it. Mithun has been called various names like ‘Poor man’s Bachchan’ by some and as a purple hero by Raj Kappor (make up overdone on his, rather, darker skin).

Next, comes to mind is Sanjay Dutt. His commercial debut was with Rocky, a film produced by his father, Sunil Dutt’s friend, Amarjeet. The film bombed. Sanjay could neither act nor had a voice to reach out. Yet, his parents’ goodwill kept him in the loop. He got a film from Gulshan Rai, a big ticket filmmaker, Vidhaata. Sanjay was not effective but the film also starred Dilip Kumar, Shammi Kapoor, Sanjeev Kumar and Padmini Kolhapure along with Amrish Puri, Suresh Oberoi, in the cast to sustain the film. Finally, he had a successful film to his name. His career has been a chequered one with most flops but, the Munnabhai series has kept him going.

Later, Raj Kapoor decided to launch another of his sons, Rajiv Kapoor, with Ram Teri Ganga Maili. Again, the film was a hit. Music by Ravindra Jain was the factor. But, that was probably just about first and last success Rajiv managed. I must mention that the character actors do help carry a weak film forward and that also happened with this film.

Then came Kumar Gaurav’s debut in 1987 with Love Story, a film produced by his father, Rajendra Kumar. The film was a super hit. But, Rajendra Kumar could not hold himself back and is said to have demanded same remuneration as the amount paid to Amitabh Bachchan in those days. A few films more (mainly flops) and, that farfetched demand by Rajendra Kumar, put paid to Kumar Gaurav’s career.

The most interesting phase was the launching of three new actors at about the same time. Sunny Deol, Anil Kapoor and Jackie Shroff during 1980s. It was compared to the triumvirate of Dilip, Dev and Raj.  Sunny was shy introvert, Jackie was the ‘Could not care less’ kind, Anil had an overambitious brother in Boney Kapoor. Anil had done some minor films here and there and was also a part of one of the many actors in Umesh Mehra’s Hamare Tumhare (1979), a lift from the Hollywood movie, Yours Mine & Ours (1968). But, Boney thought Bachchan’s reign was nearing end and Anil should take his place at the top. He worked vigorously to this end. Having taken over from his father, Surinder Kapoor, Boney had established his credentials as a filmmaker with Hum Paanch, which was a reasonable success. He launched Anil in lead with Woh 7 Din but had bigger things in mind.

He launched a big budget film, Mr India casting Sridevi opposite Anil. Mr India was written by the duo, Salim Javed and when they parted, they had divided the scripts they had equally. Requiring a lot of special effects, the script was earlier rejected by a couple of filmmakers as unviable. The film did not meet with expected box office success though it went on to become popular with kids and on TV circuit later. Delhi, UP could not be released due to disturbances in Delhi. The film created a deficit of over two crore for the production house of Boney Kapoor. Exorbitant in those days when film business was conducted in lakhs.

Sunny Deol was launched with Betaab, a home production of father, Dharmendra. He chose the same director, Rahul Rawail, who had successfully launched Kumar Gaurav. Sunny Deol was launched with a love story but made a reputation as an action hero post Ghayal.

Later, Dharmendra also launched his second son, Bobby Deol, with Barsaat. The film did well and a couple of more successes followed but his career tapered out gradually.

Jackie Shroff cashed in on his looks and personality as a model. But, like many others, he also nursed a desire to turn to films. He hung around production houses and even did a bit role in Dev Anand’s Swami Dada in 1982 till Subhash Ghai spotted him and cast him in his film, Hero (1983). A musical love story, Hero was a hit and Jackie is now a veteran of over 200 films.

One actor who was most confident of his making it big was Govinda. He was being launched by his maternal uncle, Anand, with Tan Badan. He was a dancing sensation and Indu Mirani of Filmfare offered him to perform at the annual Filmfare awards. His dancing performance at the event was a sensation and producers lined up to sign him. Once, during his struggling days, he left behind his glares at my house. Indu called him up to come and collect them. His answer oozed with all the confidence his performances showed on screen. He said, “Aaap rakhiye as my souvenir; someday you will say yeh Superstar Govinda ki glares hai!”

Another interesting case was that of Saif Ali Khan. A cricketer father, Mansur Ali Khan, and actress mother, Sharmila Tagore’s son was not expected to join films. But, he was signed up by Sattee Shourie, grandmother of Arjun Kapoor, provided accommodation and enrolled him for training and grooming. But Saif had wild ways and Sattee had to deploy a person to monitor him all day and night. Finally, the contract was scrapped. Later, Saif made his debut with the Firoze Nadiadwala’s film, Parampara, directed by Yash Chopra, on a story by Aditya Chopra. The roster of the film was too cluttered with veterans like Sunil Dutt, Vinod Khanna, Aamir Khan, Ravina Tandon, Neelam Kothari, Anupam Kher and others for either Saif to make his mark or be noticed to judge his talent.

Then, there was this new trio, Salman Khan, Aamir Khan and Shah Rukh Khan.

Being the son of celebrated writer Salim Khan he was expected to be inclined towards acting. His father, Salim, had landed in Mumbai from Indore to be an actor but could not make his mark. Salman started off with a very insignificant film, Biwi Ho To Aisi (1988), a film not fit for the launch of a budding star. He was next suggested for a Rajshri film of debut making director, Sooraj Barjatya. He was not approved initially by Sooraj. So, what does Salman do? He suggests other actors to Sooraj. But, finally, Salman bags the film and it goes onto become a blockbuster. Both, Salman Khan and Sooraj Barjatya make their mark and place in the industry.

Salman Khan has given most number of hits and his films have set new box office records though due to lack of his PR finesse, others have hogged the credit. Salman has been doing action films of late, but he has excelled in all kinds of films including playing a second fiddle to senior actors like he did in Bandhan to Jackie Shroff! Unlike most new debutants, Salman was not launched by his family. Yet, he was accepted as an all India star. His films worked all over including the remotest corners of India.

Aamir Khan made his debut with his uncle, Nasir Husain’s banner, with Qayamat Se Qyamat Tak (1988), directed by his cousin, Mansoor Ali Khan. Thereafter, he went on doing all kind of films. His range was limited since he was not cut out for action films. Resultantly, he had a mixed bag of more average or films.

It was 2001 and Aamir’s changeover took effect with Lagaan. Suddenly, he limited his involvement to sensible films as well as limiting his exposure at the same time. Thanks to this strategy, he has been giving hits on regular basis.

Shah Rukh Khan was the third member of the triumvirate. He had been doing TV serials when he was launched in a major film, Deewana, by three producers, Sweety Kapoor, Raju Kothari and Guddu Dhanoa. With a super music track, the film was a great success. But, as it was proved over a time, Khan’s forte was romantic films and he had outlived the era of romances. Now, he is trying to reinvent himself and his stardom with mostly wrong projects. Most artistes moulded in a particular slot have a best before date. Like, Rishi Kapoor, Amitabh Bachchan and Mithun Chakraborty, he needs to take a break before he remerges with roles to suit his age. As it were, he was never accepted all over India according to his own statements and the media manipulation can take you only so far, can’t resurrect you.

Finally, there was the launch of Abhishek Bachchan. That was a disaster from his very first film, J P Dutta’s Refugee. His acting made him look like the depleted cover version of his father, Amitabh Bachchan. Bachchan had a few clones, alright. Sadly, one of them died in a road accident while on his way to Gujarat for shooting in his newly purchased car, thanks to his new found success. However, Abhishek stayed around to do a two/three hero films.

There are new entrants like Ranbir Kapoor, Ranveer Singh, Varun Dhawan, Tiger Shroff, Rajkumar Rao, Ayushmann Khurana etc who are making their mark. So far, Ranveer and Varun seem to have done well for themselves.

Suniel Shetty’s once thriving career ebbed suddenly as trends changed.

Akshay Kumar was launched by a big ticket maker, Pramod Chakravorty with Deedar (1992) though Raj Sippy directed Saugandh (1991) released first. Luckily for Akshay, he never slotted himself in one genre doing all kind of films from romance, action, comedy to now films of social relevance and that has helped him last for all these years.

There were others like Akshaye Khanna (son of Vinod Khanna), Kunal Kapoor and Karan Kapoor (sons of Shahsi Kapoor), Fardeen Khan (son of Feroze Khan), Imran Khan (nephew of Aamir Khan), Sooraj Pancholi (son of Aditya Pancholi), Rahul Roy, Aditya Roy Kapoor etc who have struggled to make a mark.

@ The Box Office

n Rajinikant and Akshay Kumar starrer 2.0 released last week with much hype. Somehow, suddenly, all the hype died down once the film released! The film finds no mention on social media nor in one to one discussions. The folly, again, like Thugs Of Hindustan, was to release it on Thursday. And, this time, it was not even a holiday.

The reports of the film were thumbs down all over and, when that happens, Thursday release kills a film’s weekend prospects.

However, in the case of  2.0, the case was just the opposite. The reports were outright bad but the distribution firm kept on releasing fantastic figures. How does this help anybody is a big question.

 2.0 collected 20 crore on Thursday as per the distributor, 17 or so on Friday but suddenly grew up to 35 crore on Sunday!? The film is reported to have collected about 128 crore in its first seven days.