Unknown Facts

The 5 Outsiders Who Broke The Bollywood Bastion

Nepotism is again a much-discussed  subject in  Bollywood, what with 3  prominent star kids Agastya Nanda, Khushi Kapoor  and  Suhana  Khan making their debut in Zoya Akhtar’s next. 

The  “N”  word  makes all of us  movie buffs look inward. Is Bollywood really a  den of nepotism? But  if we look  at the   history  of  Hindi cinema, the star-kid syndrome is  relatively  recent. It started when Raj Kapoor’s son Rishi Kapoor made  his debut with Bobby. 

Prior to that  all the major stars , from Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand, Raj Kapoor in the 1950s  to Rajendra Kumar, Jeetendra, Dharmendra  in the  1960s  to  Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan in  the 1970s, were  outsiders. Thereafter  star-kid after star-kid  was launched with much fanfare. And  yet there are 5 outsiders with zero connections in  the  film industry , no money(Ranveer Singh was an outsider  who never had  to worry about his  meals)  who  broke through in in spite of nepotism ruling the roost.

  1. Mithun Chakraborty: With his bronze  skin and  sinewy personality,  Mithun was the last  man we expected  to become star at a time when second-generation stars  from within  the  Mumbai film industry  had begun to  take over.  Mithunda came with no  recommendations , and  signed    Mrinal Sen’s  offbeat Mrigaya . His dancing skills which he  used to flaunt at weddings to earn his meals,  held him in good stead  in breaking into commercial  cinema. He soon became Bollywood’s first male  dancing star, and  the king of B-grade musicals.Bappi Lahiri and (director) B Subhash  were Mithunda’s closest allies in  the  plan to become a superstar of  the masses.
  2. Govinda The era  of start-kids was  rampant  when  a boy from the chawls  decided to become  a star.Govinda had no  connections, no  contacts, not even a place to stay in Mumbai. We don’t know if he slept on the  footpath  like Mithun Chakraborty did. But he  certainly pushed himself  into producer Pahlaj Nihalani’s range  of attention with his  dancing skills. Nihalani  had started shooting for Ilzaam with  his best friend Shatrughan Sinha  and  Mithun Chakraborty when  Mithunda suddenly  opted  out. Nihalani signed Govinda  in Mithinda’s place. That’s how the second dancing-star  of Bollywood was  born.
  3. Akshay Kumar  He came in at a time when  star-kids  like Sunny Deol and Sanjay Dutt were ruling the roost. Akshay  Kumar had no connections at  all  in  the film industry. His struggle was  that of  an archetypal  non-insider  in the film industry. Akshay went  from door to door trying to get producers’ attentions. They laughed  at him. They told him to try his hand at some  other profession. They insulted  him.But Akshay  held on . Until  he caught the  attention  of   producer-director  Pramod Chakravarty, once a movie moghul now his career  on  the downslide. He signed Akshay opposite the privileged star-daughter Karisma  Kapoor in Deedar  .Akshay admitted he  knew  nothing  about acting. He learnt on the  job.Not  a single  major director came forward  to sign him. He  found stardom from the leftovers that the star-sons didn’t want to work in.
  4. Shah Rukh Khan: The  boy  from Delhi who followed  the girl he loved to Mumbai and then decided  he had to become an actor. The story  of Shah Rukh’s stardom can make  a  terrific  film. From Vivek Vaswani who gave him a  home to  Hema  Malini who gave hin his  first role(in Dil Aashna Hai) Shah  Rukh represents the triumph of  the  outsider.While the  other two (or three if you want to  include Saif) Khan superstars are industry insiders, Shah Rukh became  the  biggest  star  of  the post—Bachchan era without knowing a  single  person in  the  film industry.
  5. Kartik Aaryan When he came  to Mumbai from his  hometown  Gwalior  he   knew absolutely no  one in the  Hindi film industry. Initially he stayed in a flat in Andheri with 12  other dreamers  hoping to make  it big just like him. Out of  the thousands of  dreamers  who pour into Mumbai, the city of dream,  only 1 or at the most 2, make it in Bollywood  every five years. Kartik is  one of them. Today when he is  one  of  the ten most saleable star-actors in Hindi cinema he has not forgotten his days of struggle when he would wait for  hours to meet a producer  only to be turned away without a meeting at  the end  of the day. Kartik’s stardom at  a time when  star kids  are again crowding the marquee,  provides hope for  all the hopefuls  from outside Mumbai . If Kartik can create a Dhamaka,  so can  others with no  movie empire as  inheritance .

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