Thursday, March 29, 2007

Lemon and Chillies: Bollywood's Obsession with Superstition

By and large, Karan Johar has been forced to bear the cross of having introduced the K-Name syndrome in Hindi cinema though it is only because his films are better publicized than most.

It was actually Rakesh Roshan who developed this fixation because before Kaamchor, each one of his films flopped regally at the box-office. Actually, he still did not learn his lesson and made Bhagwan Dada (Hrithik’s original debut film) - which promptly sank. Post this, he remade Kane & Abel into Khudgarz and never looked back! Of course, when he made bad films (like Koyla), horrendous films (like King Uncle) and too intelligent films (like Khel), no K managed to save him. But he still continues undaunted – and even cracks jokes about it. When asked what he will be working on after Krrish, he answered “Kyun Bataoon?”, which incidentally is a title registered with him!

The guy with the bigger K fixation is a guy called Arjun Hingorani – who made films with three words each starting with K! Because of this, he was known as K3-ji in the industry. Just kidding… but he really made films like Kab? Kyon? Kahaan?, Kaatilon Ka Kaatil, Karishma Kudrat Ka, Khel Khilari Ka, Kahani Kismat Ka and King Kong Ka Karnama. Well, actually – I made up the last one. But he could have made that one also had there not been four words in the title!

One fetish associated with Subhash Ghai is that he insists on his heroines’ names starting with M. Except for Madhuri Dixit, Manish Koirala, Meenakshi Sheshadri and Mahima Chaudhary, there does not seem to be too many heroines in his films with names starting with M. Maybe, he just imposes this rule on heroines he has launched.
But then, Meenakshi’s real name is Shashikala or Madhubala or some such disaster. Considering that such a name could not have clicked anyway and she acted in at least one film before Ghai’s, she couldn’t have been named by him.
Madhuri and Manisha are their real names, so no twists in those tales either.
That leaves only Mahima Chaudhary, whose name was changed from Ritu when she was launched in Pardes.
The poor man got only one actress’ name changed in his entire life and because of that, he has been labeled as a superstitious wimp!

A botanical quirk is Indra Kumar’s fixation with a tree in Ooty. Ever since Aamir Khan and Madhuri Dixit ran around it in Dil and the film became a massive hit, he went back again and again to shoot around the same tree. Beta, Raja and Ishq had the tree in its full leafy glory and they were huge box-office successes, despite their dubious cinematic quality.
However, when he landed up to shoot Mann around the same tree, Indra Kumar found out that some chappie had cut the tree down and only the stump was left. Heartbroken, he shot the stump and came back. Mann was his first flop! But he found his touch of loud humour and louder audio design with his later films (Masti, for example) and he has managed without the famous tree ever since!

Gul Anand (no relation with Vishwanathan or Dev) takes this fixation to a human – and that too the biggest star of the country! Each one of his films has an appearance by the Big B. In Hero Hiralal, Big B plays himself who copies the asli hero Hiralal’s style of tying a red scarf around his neck. In Chashme Buddoor, he appears with Rekha in a lesson on how to patao a girl with the help of a hanky. And in Khatta Meetha, he appears as Preeti Ganguli’s dream lover!

Sanjay Dutt wearing the same blue denim shirt for each one of his TADA hearings. Aishwarya Rai never cutting her nails on the night before she is to start shooting for a new film. Anupam Kher visiting his first ever set every time he is near Mehboob Studios. Half the film industry changing the spelling of their names. The other half changing the name itself!
These are more like mascots than anything else and not too religious in themselves. Of the religious variety, the Big B takes the cake, bakery and everything else when he goes all around the country with his maanglik daughter-in-law and performs pujas with the same dedication he brings to his roles!

Jai Shri Krishna! Or as the Balaji clan would say – Kjay Kshri Kkrishna!!
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