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A New Star Cast Is Born!

Subhash K . Jha

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Do you remember that first time?  …I wasn’t there when in 1949   the world heard Lata Mangeshkar sing  Hawaamein udta jaye and Aayega aanewala…But I was here to hear Himani Kapoor sing Jab jab  saiyan  for composer Aadesh Shrivastava in  Kalpana Lajmi’s tale of  the  fallen ‘fraulein’  Chingari.Sadly Himani’s singing career  never took off.

I remember when   Ranbir Kapoor   rehearsed for Sanjay Leela  Bhansali’s Saawariya…..or  Anil Kapoor’s daughter Sonam Kapoor   faced the camera  faced  for the  first time…or when 19-year old Kangana ripped  the screen  apart  in Gangster and WohLamhe… time   stops still as  those minty montages of emotions move across your ear and  eye level in swift swimming  motions of spontaneous emotions.

That magical   moment when  you feel  the earth shake beneath  your feet  , when a  newcomer strides stealthily  on screen to  claim  your  undivided attention….it’s a moment  that defines the motion-picture experience.

It happened with Kareena  Kapoor  in J.P. Dutta’s Refugee . From that moment  when Kareena raised the flap of  her burqa to slap water on her parched face, she never stopped making a splash. 

    Or  Hrithik Roshan….That moment when he first strode on screen  with a guitar in hand  accompanied by   the  sounds of screaming  fans who  clapped and cheered from the studio auditoriam…. And  now I  felt  the same excitement on seeing Meezaan Jaffry  in  Malaal.

   These, I  believe,  are the   best debut performances I’ve seen ….comparable with  Sharmila Tagore in  Kashmir Ki Kali and Dimple Kapadia  in Bobby.

 That  moment when  Shammi Kapoor first glimpsed the Kashmiri beauty  or when Rishi Kapoor reluctantly appeared  at  his 17 th  birthday party and saw  this timid, awkward beauty in a  short dress standing among  the gaudily dressed  party guests in Bobby…these are keep-sake movie montages.

           Like  Shah Rukh Khan, Akshay Kumar and John Abraham  came in from the cold.

 “I knew absolutely no one when I came. My folks see two films a year. Now those two films are  mine,” jokes Sammir.

 But he’ll have to contend with the  looming presence  of golden star-kid Ranbir who has it in his genes…

     That’s one thing  the average—or not so average—wannabe(or are they now  called wanna-beefs?)  from within the industry cannot claim. And there are so  many  of them being readied for a rollicking debut. And let me tell you, they are all worthy heir-apparents who are pucca star material. Imagine what pains their moneyed privileged producer-dads would take over their son’s intro-appearance!

     So how does a wannabe from the outside get a foot into filmdom?  Very frankly it’s next to impossible.   Either   you get yourself a daddy or a sugar-daddy  ..

  Rajesh Khanna , the  greatest superstar ever, was almost  shooed  out  of  the  industry.His  first three films Raaz,Aurat and Baharon Ke Sapne were disasters.

 Then Aradhana happened. And a star was born!

  It happens once in   while…We saw that magical moment unfurl when Jaya Bhaduri as Guddi  rushed in to  the school prayers singing Humko man ki shakti dena …And when Mumtaz (belatedly after years of struggle)  pirouetted provocatively  on screen to the sound of Bindiya chamkegi  in  Do Raaste.

 Songs and music are an essential part of star-birth. From  Madhubala  in Mahal  to Madhuri Dixit in Hum AapkeHain Koun…so many stars have acquired star-stature through Lataji’s singing.

     When and how that combustive  moment occurs,  when  a star  is born ,  is beyond anyone’s lucid comprehension. Was it the moment when Ajay Devgan  zoomed into sight striding two motor-cycles simultaneously  in  Phool Aur Kante….Or was it  the moment when  Kumar Gaurav  sang Dekha meine dekha hai ek sapna  to Vijayta Pundit in Love Story…..

 Ajay’s co-star Madhoo and Gaurav’s  singing-romancing  partner Vijayta are long retired and happily married.

Strange, but between  the debut-making   lead pair only  one aspirant gets a  chance to be successful. It was MadhuriDixit and  not Tapal Paul in  Abodh, Karisma  and not Hareesh in Prem Qaidi, Kajol and not Kamal Sadanah  in Bekhudi, Salman Khan and  not Bhagyashree in Maine Pyar Kiya.

  Fortunate favours  a  few.  With star-kids  and non-star-kids   ….a new generation  of matinee idols is visible.

Popcorn please? 

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