For all its national (and international) credentials, Bollywood is suffocatingly unidimensional when it comes to names.
Salim-Javed at their peak and subsequently the Chopra-Johar clique managed to keep the names uniformly North Indian. And then, for the most part, kept them in the Punjabi lexicon. Never venturing into beyond the upper Gangetic plain. And forever shunning any words that require the confluence of teeth, tongue & lips!
So, it is Rahul. Raj. Vicky. Rinse. Lather. Repeat.
Hence, when one tries flashback a little, only a few names of substantial strength come up... names from the minority community. Minority, from the point of depiction in mainstream Bollywood. Which includes all that is not included above!
* One of the earliest example is of the buxom Christian girl, who wanted to make friends like never before. Bobby Braganza asked a super-chubby Rishi Kapoor - "mujhse dosti karoge?" - and red bikinis have never been the same since!
* In Prahaar, a makeup-less Madhuri Dixit played an irate, Anglo-Indian girl who was completely in love with one part of her boyfriend and equally pissed with the other part. Shirley Pinto walked straight out of Bandra Village and right into our hearts.
But then, a very boringly-named Dr Sushma (of Sailaab) doing the koli dance in the yellow nauvvari has ruled our collective consciousness far more!
* Forest Ranger Jan Nissar Khan took on the collective might of the timber mafia but landed up in jail for a crime he didn't commit. Double jeopardy and an Andha Kanoon saw him extract revenge like no one else can.
The black-jacketed, cigarette-twirling Rajanikanth paled into the background.
* With a debut as a South Bombay lothario called Rocky, Sanju Baba never looked to go beyond the Aman Verma and Ballu/Bhola. Until he hit pay dirt as Raghunath Namdeo Shivalkar, who went from the Chembur chawls to become one of the biggest dons of Mumbai.
Vaastav was never so stark on the silver screen.
* What do you call an alcoholic, petulant but charismatic Bengali?
- No, not Ritwik Ghatak, you fool! I meant, in the movies!
- Devdas Mukherjee, of course!
* NASA scientist. Closet patriot. Guilt-stricken, Kinley-drinking NRI. The oh-so-real character from Swades had an equally realistic resonance in the name.
Mohan Bhargava - your neighbour from across the street. The one your mother constantly compared you with.
* After a lifetime as Vijay Verma, AB finally got away from Ganga-kinare and became the icon of the idealistic Marathi middle-class. In hand-knit pullovers and out of laughter clubs.
Vidyadhar Ramkrishna Patwardhan of Viruddh became an extension of the Saaraansh Headmaster.
* Oiled hair. Short kurta. Jhola. Eccentric boss. And most importantly, a moustache!
Ramprasad Dashrathprasad Sharma was such a boring name that it became interesting. More so, when he conjured up a clean-shaven brother by the name of Laxmanprasad Dashrathprasad Sharma.
Don't believe me? Ask Farah Khan!
* Aamir Khan's name in his first film: Raj.
Aamir Khan's name in his fifth film: Raj.
Aamir Khan's name in his ninth film: Raj.
Just when you thought he was taking the fight to Vijay Verma, Mahesh Bhatt ripped off It Happened One Night and came up with one hell of a street-smart, motor-mouthed reporter.
Name? Raghu Jaitley.
* And finally, the latest kid on the block.
In Armani suits and muted make-up, you have women matching men step for step in the corridors of power.
Ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together for Corporate Czarina Bipasha Basu as Nishigandha Dasgupta.