Thursday, March 08, 2007

Theory of Relativity: Star Children who Flopped

The Kapoors. The Deols. The Bachchans. The Roshans. The Khans. The Bollywood firmament is crowded with stars with the same surname. Apart from perpetuating fan following across generations, they make wonderfully symmetrical photo ops at the Filmfare awards. When Jaya gets a prize, Amitabh gives it – and Rekha looks on. When Ash gets a prize, Abhishek gives it – and Karisma looks on. Complete Kodak moment!
But there have been so many who didn’t make it. So many whose debuts were bankrolled by their fathers and they collapsed. What happens to them?
Remember, if Mani Ratnam had not remade Azuthu Ezuthu in Hindi, today's hottest star son could have joined the tried-and-failed list.

Kumar Gaurav (son of Rajendra Kumar a.k.a Jubilee Hero) tops the list. A decent actor with complete chocolate boy looks, he was the one who was supposed to make a challenge for Bachchan’s throne. Sadly (and inexplicably), Love Story remained his only hit, actually a superhit. He did several very promising movies, all of which flopped. When he did act in (and produce) a hit – Naam – his brother-in-law garnered all the praise. Probably more than a decade after his debut, Rajendra Kumar made a last ditch attempt with a film called Phool with Madhuri Dixit opposite him but that sank as well. Later on, he has acted in Kaante – a pretty decent performance – but that was not enough to resurrect his career either. When last heard, he acted in an English film about Guyana and gathered some praise for it. But he seems to be too old to be the hero’s friend and too young to be the hero’s father.

How many of you think Meenakshi Sheshadri’s first film is Hero? (And truthfully, how many of you care?)
But Minx (who was also nicknamed Panavti in Bollywood, because of her apparent ability to bring bad luck to even top-of-the-line projects) acted in a film called Painter Babu before she got paired opposite the unkempt, unwashed Jackie-dada in Hero.
Her hero in the film was Rajeev Goswami – who was the son of Manoj Kumar (real name: Harekrishna Goswami). The film – needless to say – was produced and directed by his dad. A very convoluted plot about a painter who could not marry his ladylove because he got framed in a murder case. He came out of jail to find that his girlfriend had got married to someone else. So, he commits suicide.
Before you guys shout “Spoiler Alert”, let me hasten to add that the only thing more tragic than the plot was the direction. While not in the league of the Worst Films of All-Time (which Manoj Kumar achieved in his subsequent film – Clerk), his dad’s direction is probably why poor Rajeev sank without a trace. Had it been somebody else, he would have still sunk. But there may have been some traces!
Rajeev had a younger (?) brother called Kunal – who was the hero of Kalakaar (the only claim to fame of which being its ‘Neele neele ambar par’ song). Considering that the film never came close to matching the success of its music, Kunal did not create too many queues outside the box office.

Probably the earliest example of numerology dictating the spelling of a name is Suneil Anand. If his ‘success’ was anything to go by, nobody would have dared to come anywhere close to the Jumaani Brothers today.
Suneil acted in a film, directed by his father Dev. It was called Anand Hi Anand. Going by the climax, it should have been called Anand Hi Hi Anand Ho Ho Ha Ha. It is one of the best examples of unintended hilarity in Hindi cinema – as Suneil is chased by drunken elephants in the climax. I simply do not recall how he escaped the pachyderms. Maybe the film should have been called Sharaabi Meets Haathi Mere Saathi!
Suneil also wrote, directed, produced and acted in a film called Master. I vaguely recall a martial arts theme to the story. But since I am not among the 43 people in the world to have watched this movie, I am unable to enlighten the reader on whether the movie had the hallmark dialogues of martial arts films – “Kiyaah Choo Mash-tah Sinchuang Kung Pao Mash-tah Honourable Mash-tah”!

It has been said about Shashi Kapoor that he ought to carry a license for going out looking that sexy. His progeny – Kunal, Karan and Sanjana – inherited his sharp features and the blond-ness of Jennifer Kendal, providing them with great looks for their film careers. Only catch being that they looked foreign!
Sanjana Kapoor tried her hand out in Hero Hiralal, where she played a film star falling in love with a Hyderabadi auto-driver. But an extremely crappy climax and Sanjana’s obvious inability to look like a plump, made-up matinee idol spelled the doom for this movie. Naseeruddin Shah – as the eponymous cabbie – could not salvage this Gul Anand flick. (Trivia: Amitabh Bachchan does guest appearances in all films produced by Gul Anand.)
Karan Kapoor found stardom as the male face of Bombay Dyeing. As a blonde hunk, he graced the advertisements of hundreds of apparel companies before he was persuaded to make his Bollywood debut in Sultanat. He played Dharmendra’s son in a supporting role (opposite Juhi Chawla, if I remember correctly) and got completely overshadowed in the fisticuffs of Dharam and Sunny (Dharmendra’s son in real life as well as the film!) in the middle of a desert sultanate. He also played a part in a very entertaining film called Loha – which starred Dharmendra again! Karan’s foreign accented Hindi and very furniture-like acting did nothing to earn him other films.
Kunal is married to Sheena Sippy, who is Ramesh Sippy’s daughter. He did not try his hand at films. (Trivia: Ramesh directed his samndhibeyai in Bengali, dunno in English – Shashi in the films Shaan and Akayla, before and after they got related.)

Aamir Khan debuted (as an adult) in a family production. So did his brother Faisal Khan. Except that Aamir was the QS Cutie and Faisal was a sidekick of the villain (played by Makrand Deshpandey) who tries to molest Juhi Chawla.
However, Faisal got a proper debut in Madhosh (produced by dad) – opposite one Ms Anjali Jathar (who went on to act opposite Sunil Shetty in an amazing number of films). Despite heavy promotion by his brother and pretty good music, the film tanked.
His perfectionist brother tried again – this time, getting him a second lead in Mela and a very meaty role for someone with one disastrous flop. Even Aishwarya Rai appeared (in a guest appearance) as his love interest in the last scene. Despite very good action and competent acting, Mela did nothing for Faisal. (Come to think of it, neither did it do anything for Aamir). He may or may not have acted in films after that.

Raaj Kumar (as opposed to Dr Rajukmar) had two children – Vastavikata and Pururaj. The former is been working in her debut film for several years now. Presumably, the shoots are all over and they are trying to find a simple screen name for her.
The latter made his debut in a film called Baal Brahmachari opposite the super-successful Karisma Kapoor, directed by Prakash Mehra and with no apparent help from his dad. Which means, Raaj Kumar cannot be blamed for the devastation of several distributors brought about by the film.
He followed it up with a villainous act in the film called Hamara Dil Aapke Paas Hain, where he raped Aishwarya Rai only to be beaten to a pulp by Anil Kapoor – not for the rape, but for offering to marry Ash to atone for the rape! (Yes, that’s the plot. And Happy Women’s Day.)
This film was a moderate hit and Puru celebrated the success by parking his car on top of three pavement dwellers after getting thoroughly drunk.
He also acted in Umrao Jaan – but seeing the kind of celebrations Puru does after a hit, the public decided to stay away from this film to ensure the safety of the pavement dwellers of Bandra.

Rajkumar Kohli is one of the moderately successful producer-directors of Hindi cinema – with several B-grade successes to his credit, though he does not hold any world records to his credit. His son – Armaan Kohli – though holds the world record for the maximum number of launches (relaunches?) of an actor by a relative.
He debuted in a film called Vidrohi way back in the 1990s and has been seen in his dad’s production almost every year since then. I think this trend ended with a film called Jaani Dushman – Ek Anokhi Kahaani, where he played a snake (ichchhadhari naag) and proceeded to kill the entire star cast, which includes but is not restricted to Sunny Deol, Sonu Nigam, Aditya Panscholi, Sunil Shetty and Aftab Shivdasani.
(Trivia: Rajkumar Kohli directed another film called Jaani Dushman in mid-80s – again a multi-starrer – which was about a psychotic King Kong kind of monster, which went about killing brides to avenge his wife’s infidelity. Rockin’!!).

The actor whom Armaan narrowly beats for his world record is one Mr Sanjay Kapoor.
He is the youngest brother of Boney and Anil – and debuted in the film in production for the longest time, called Prem. He starred opposite Tabu (also in her debut) and lip-synced to what went on to become the National Anthem of Constipation – Aati Nahin, Aati Nahin! (There is another school of thought which feels that Dum Maro Dum is the Constipation Anthem, and Aati Nahin is merely the National Song.)
Anyway, his brother bankrolled Sanjay’s forays in several big-budget movies opposite really big-ticket heroines – including Madhuri Dixit in Raja. (Both the Kapoor brothers have the dubious distinction of acting in films named after them but being more famous for Madhuri. Anil’s effort is Beta.)
His brother’s financial compulsions and enduring clout ensured that Sanjay acted in several films outside the Kapoor banner – Chhupa Rustam (opposite Manisha Koirala and Mamta Kulkarni), Qayamat (as a villain in a copy of The Rock), Sirf Tum (opposite Sushmita Sen) and his crowning glory – Kal Ho Na Ho (as the guy whom Sonali Bendre ditched SRK for)! He threatens to (and does) surface once in a while in reasonably visible movies so it is sometime before we can give him a Lifetime Achievement Award!

Actually, the flop star son with the maximum number of launches is Uday Chopra. He has completely failed to get any film outside the Yashraj banner. But people have suffered him enough already and I do not want to aggravate the pain.
Remember, the only cast & crew member firmed up for Dhoom III is him!
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