Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Hangal Game

Hollywood star Kevin Bacon has claimed that he has worked with every major star in Hollywood. Now, some philanthropic souls have made a game out of it. They try to connect every Hollywood star with any other through commonly acted films. The idea is that if Bacon’s claim has to stand, he will be the link between everybody. Of course, the claim is a wild exaggeration though he has indeed acted with a very wide variety of co-stars.

Essentially, it is figuring out the Degree of Separation between film stars, where the link is not just any connection but the films they have acted together in.


Nilendu and I chatted about this game and tried adapting it to Bollywood.

As you can see, both of us are serious professionals working in IT and Marketing, always discussing best practices from around the globe and making them relevant to the Indian context!


We realized a few things when we were discussing the game.

Character actors like A K Hangal, Iftekhar, Anupam Kher, Kader Khan and the like are the Kevin Bacons in the Indian scene. Between them, they have been around for huge periods of time and have acted with the entire gamut of stars, starlets and enthu cutlets.

Game Tip: Durable character artistes have the potential to reduce the Degree of Separation big time.


In fact, we have named the Indian version The Hangal Game, after our favourite and India’s most durable character artiste – A K Hangal. One observation about the great man is that he still looks and acts exactly the same as he did in his first film!

We also realized that it is pretty much impossible to get a Hangal Score beyond 4, leave alone 6!


Let me show you.

Starting with a simple one: Dilip Kumar and Abhishek Bachchan.

Dilip Kumar and Amitabh Bachchan acted together in Shakti. Amitabh and Abhishek Bachchan acted together in Sarkar (and many others). So, their degree of separation (Hangal Score) is 2, since you can connect them in 2 movies.


Next one: Neetu Singh and Preity Zinta.

Neetu Singh + Amitabh Bachchan = Yaarana. Amitabh + Abhishek Bachchan = Sarkar. Abhishek + Preity = Jhoom Barabar Jhoom. Hangal Score = 3.

Question: Can we lower the Hangal score? For that, we need to find a guy who has acted with both Neetu Singh and Preity Zinta. Who is that guy? Who else but the Big B.

Yaarana. Amitabh + Preity = The Last Lear. So, Hangal Score can be brought down to 2.


Third one: Guru Dutt and Ranbir Kapoor.

Guru Dutt + Waheeda Rehman = Pyaasa. Waheeda + Amitabh = Trishul. Amitabh + Deepika Padukone = Om Shanti Om. I admit this is a little sly because AB only had a guest appearance in the film. Deepika + Ranbir = Bachna Ae Haseeno. Hangal Score = 4.

Can we reduce? Of course, we can!

Pyaasa. Waheeda + Sonam Kapoor = Delhi 6. Sonam + Ranbir = Saawariya. HS = 3!


The other ones that we discussed were as follows:

Navin Nischol and Dino Morea.

In a moment of inspired genius, Nilendu came up with – Navin Nischol + Anupam Kher = Khosla Ka Ghosla. Anupam Kher + Dino Morea = Dus Kahaniyan. Hangal Score = 2.

Game Tip: Multi-story – multi-starrer – films like Life In A Metro, Dus Kahaniyan, and Darna Manaa Hai go a long way in squeezing the Hangal Score.


Sachin and Tusshar Kapoor.

Again, we got it in 2. Sachin + Amitabh = Sholay. Amitabh + Tusshar Kapoor = Khakee.


The game play rules are simple.

Long Version (Solo Player): Player tries to think up star pairs with the highest Hangal Score. This version needs a gaming group to compare scores and exchange notes.

Short Version (Multi-player): Player A gives Player B a star pair. Player B names the linking films and gets a Hangal Score. If Player A gets a lower score (thanks to an obscure link up his sleeve), he gets a point. Else, Player B gets the point. A timing element can be introduced to entertain the T20 addicts.


What we love about this game is that not only does one need a decent knowledge of Bollywood, one needs to scan the memory fast enough to bring about the connections.

And the game can be made easy or difficult by including clauses like guest appearances allowed / not allowed, co-stars mean being in the same film / same scene and so on. We can even be very star struck and refuse to admit character artistes in the connections but then, what is Hindi cinema without Guddi Maruti, Laxmikant Berde and Satyen Kappu?


In fact, we were thinking of announcing a prize for getting a Hangal Score of 5 or 6. But then, a drinking session at Olypub with us followed by Chelo Kababs at Peter Cat does not really qualify as a prize!

Don’t let that dampen you, though!

Think of the oddest pair of stars… or stars who have never acted with Hangal!


Game Tip: Think of present day debutants (few number of films) and pair them with stars from as far back as you can!


Baithe baithe kya karenge? Karna hain kuch kaam –

Aao kheley Hangal Game, le kar Kappu ke naam!

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