Of debuts, expectations and talent

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The Hindi Film Industry witnesses the birth of many stars every year. They are launched with great aplomb, media frenzy and above all, expectations. Sometimes we see the quintessential models or pageant winners but most of the times we see the star kids joining the industry. Debuts are stressful and a big burden on the shoulders of newcomers. Star kids are compared to their legendary parents while models are often labeled plastic. Let’s take a further look into debuts in the Hindi film industry.

In earlier days, star kids like Kumar Gaurav or the Late Raj Kapoor’s sons (Randhir, Rishi and Rajiv Kapoor) were launched with much fanfare and their first films were massive hits. The public hailed the new kids on the block and it was taken for granted that they will take the lineage forward with several jubilee hits. Barring Rishi Kapoor, the other stars fizzled. Some actresses were also launched with these actors. Mandakini faded into oblivion, Vijeyta Pandit emerged several years later as Aadesh Srivastava’s singer wife and Dimple Kapadia enjoyed the limelight.

The year 2000 saw the debut of Rakesh Roshan’s son – Hrithik Roshan with Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai. It was well known that Kareena Kapoor firmly denied the very same launch pad as she felt the production house would have focused more on Hrithik and would have not given her enough coverage. This allowed for Amisha Patel to step in. The film was a huge box office success and Hrithik became a mega star overnight. The film did not do much wonders for Amisha’s career. Kareena on the other hand made a wise decision by debuting with JP Dutta’s Refugee alongside Abhishek Bachchan. The film was a commercial failure but both were applauded for their mature acting.

After 2000, Hrithik and Abhishek both saw a series of flop movies and were written down by the media. Abhishek was panned by the critics and the producers mostly signed him for multi-starrers. It has been a general tendency in the industry to have high expectations from the debutantes. When Sanjay Leela Bhansali launched Sonam Kapoor she was compared to the legendary Waheeda Rehman! In terms of debuts, there is an underlying trend where the actors recover quickly and get back on the path just like Hrithik or Ranbir Kapoor but actresses quickly fade into the oblivion.

Apart from the expectations, a lot of money rides on a newcomer because it is after all a risk that a producer takes when casting someone new. Sometimes it’s a creative choice by the director to launch a ‘new face’. For example, Anushka Sharma and Ranveer Singh were both launched by Yash Raj films as the script for Band Baaja Baaraat demanded fresh faces.

In recent times, Sonakshi Sinha is the current blue eyed girl of the industry (with claims of charging a bomb now). Sonakshi was launched in one of the largest grossers ever, Dabangg. She was barely there in the movie, had limited dialogues but the expectations from her are sky high. Anushka Sharma is another example however Anushka’s debut character was a strong one that allowed her to showcase her talent. Now after Band Baaja Baaraat in her tow, we can safely say that she is indeed one firebrand to watch out for. One must also wait for Ranveer Singh’s next release before branding him as the next superstar.

The media writes all good things however with one flop the stars are written off and producers turn away. Harman Baweja has been written off by the industry with two mega flops in his kitty. Jackky Bhagnani’s debut saw him doing all the things a lead actor is supposed to know – dancing, action, horse-riding, His debut Kal Kisney Dekha had terrible screenplay with a script full of loopholes. And let’s not even talk about Mithun Chakraborty’s son Mimoh’s debut Jimmy.

Due to massive frenzy over models and star kids, outsiders find it extremely hard to find their way into industry. Legible debutantes like Chandan Roy Sanyal (Kaminey), Amrita Puri (Aisha), Shahana Goswami (Rock On!!) are often sidelined despite their obvious talent.

This model also stands true for our directors. Most of them slog as assistant directors for years before a producer gives a nod to their script. The same applies to singers. A singer has to make his mark via reality shows or albums before making it big in Bollywood. Neeraj Shridhar, Kailash Kher, Mohit Chauhan got their dues after many years of struggle.

The film industry still reels on about the concept of ‘its all in the family’. Major banners have their own set of rules that favors a star kid/s. Even if a new comer is introduced, they are bound by strict contract clauses. The Hindi film industry owes a lot to Anurag Kashyap, Vishal Bhardwaj, Dibaker Banerjee and Vikramaditya Motwane who continue to take the risk of introducing fresh talent.

In the long run, it’s not just luck but talent that makes you a legend. Overnight success is short term. You’ve got to have the talent to stay in the mind of the now evolved audience.

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