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Actors Today Know that Lace in Sun has Its Expiry Date and They Always have Plan B Ready

It was said that the popularity of a star was measured by the amount of footwear outside his Darbar (sitting room) and further confirmed

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Actors, Expiry Date, Plan B
This is how a lot of stars lived over the years. Pixabay

No more living for the present. A bungalow in Bandra and Juhu in Mumbai, a horde of friends every evening to enjoy the flow of free Scotch and to think that this is the way life is going to span out is passé. This is how a lot of stars lived over the years. Actors

It was said that the popularity of a star was measured by the amount of footwear outside his Darbar (sitting room) and further confirmed by the number of bouquets he/she received on a birthday or when the star’s film was released. The result was that a lot of these old time artistes rose to the highest pedestals of stardom, had the best of everything for a while but died in penury! The footwear/footfalls at the Darbar in the heydays were missing at the star’s funeral procession. Shatrughan Sinha, who was the lone known star to attend the funeral of the once Golden Jubilee star, Bharat Bhushan, observed that no one except him from the film industry attended the funeral.

It seems, the bouquets and footwear were temporary indicators of popularity.

Stardom is just a phase in an actor’s life; does not last forever. A few make the transition from stardom to character roles and manage to sustain, though not as gloriously. Well, the stars in those days were not quite prepared for the days ahead, the what if…days. These stars, probably, never thought of investing for a lifetime of returns.

Actors, Expiry Date, Plan B
No more living for the present. Pixabay

The usual practice to survive when the bad days caught up was to sell the bungalow, move to a luxurious flat and, later, sell this flat and go middleclass. This happened with Bharat Bhushan who had given some of the biggest hits of his time in Baiju Bawra, Barsaat Ki Raat and Basant Bahar. Meena Kumari, for instance, also had to move from a bungalow to an apartment and, even that was sold for a pittance to recover her income tax dues. Raj Kapoor faced setbacks with a couple of films he produced. And, finally, for Bobby, which launched Rishi Kapoor, he had to stake his life’s earning, RK Studio, because even his regular distributors had deserted him. Fortunately, for all concerned, the film clicked.

Not so long ago, Amitabh Bachchan faced a problem going on the verge of bankruptcy as he formed a company to indulge in film production and related business. Luckily for him, he survived that and a new glorious chapter started in his life.

There were many such instances with lead stars as well as with the second rung actors. But, there were a few others who were wise with their money. Ashok Kumar was known to invest wisely and so was Rajendra Kumar. The stock market meant a long-term investment in those days; more about regular dividends and less about trading. Also, the knowledge of the market was limited. Real estate was the thing. Rajendra Kumar built a preview theatre and a couple of other facilities and so did Sunil Dutt within their premises.

Rajesh Khanna invested in real estate and a hotel in the South. Sadly for him, he was not very aware of where his money was invested. Even those, who formed partnerships with him in film production or distribution were not always honest.

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Wiser sense prevailed with the stars who followed. The smartest during the time was Jeetendra. He, probably, never liked to keep his money idle. He even loved to discuss it and was not above asking a journalist earning a thousand or two what he thought of certain shares like Orkay since he had a few crores to invest! He also invested in the distribution of films along with his brother-in-law, Ramesh Sippy. Jeetendra decided to invest in a posh bungalow in Hyderabad since most of the time his films were remakes of Telugu films and he had to stay there in hotel rooms for long times.

But, for one thing, Jeetendra was not greedy and was practical. After a few hits of his South remakes in Hindi, he was offered a raise in his remuneration by his producers. To their chagrin, Jeetendra refused saying, “A couple of hits and you want to pay me more. But, if I deliver a flop or two, things will be different as the producers won’t find my price viable.” But, he did not pass up the opportunity totally. He suggested that they may pass on that benefit to his distribution firm which bought the rights of all his films.

Dharmendra had set up a state-of-the-art recording studio along with a preview theatre at a prime Juhu location. The Khan Brothers, Feroz and Sanjay, were more into owning race horses. Most of the actors may be investing here and there but their main attraction was always related to films.

Vinod Khanna too decided to open his own distribution office, later venturing into film production. Mithun Chakraborty had built a couple of five star hotels in Ooty and also shifted his base to Ooty. Jackie Shroff was a stakeholder in Sony Entertainment Television when the company made its entry into India.

Actors, Expiry Date, Plan B
A bungalow in Bandra and Juhu in Mumbai, a horde of friends every evening to enjoy the flow of free Scotch and to think that this is the way life is going to span out is passé. Pixabay

Coming to the new generation of actors, they know their priorities. Most of them are very well educated — male and female both. Of course, since many or most of them come from outside Mumbai, their first priority is to buy a house. But, as they start earning enough money to feel secure, they venture out to invest whatever surplus they hold. The actors today know that a place in the sun has its expiry date and they always have a Plan B ready. But, the problem with this generation is, they follow the trend. They go with whatever is hot and in news. For instance, many actors ran to Gujarat holding meetings with the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi and eventually investing in Wind Power or some such project. Then, the attention shifted to start-pps — the reigning watchword in the market. And, that is where a lot of money is going.

While almost all actors, male as well as female, have film production houses usually making films in joint ventures, the other preferred business seems to be restaurants. Dino Morea was one of the firsts to start a restaurant while also being associated with fitness activities for the public. Sonu Sood has set up a chain of restaurants while Arjun Rampal is into owning pubs. Shah Rukh Khan has a top rated VFX set up besides owning an IPL team, Kolkata Knight Riders, along with Juhi Chawla. Preity Zinta also owns a stake in the IPL team Kings XI Punjab. Ajay Devgn has invested in a VFX unit as well as a cinema chain, NY Cinemas, which already has nine cinemas in operation with another dozen in the offing as per the company’s website. Hrithik Roshan has set up his own fashion label, HRX, besides investing into real estate. Similarly, Akshay Kumar is also reported to be more inclined towards real estate. John Abraham has some stake in the construction business. Aamir Khan is involved with the furniture brand, Furlenco. Suniel Shetty is heavily into digital domain and also owns a talent management company.

Priyanka Chopra has opted for a social media platform, Bumble, for investment and also takes seat on the company’s board. Films production has also been one of her enterprises. Aishwarya Rai, having invested in wind power as well as Ambee, the environment start-up, was in news recently for seeking her outstanding dues from the power company in Maharashtra. Anushka Sharma has ventured into fashion with her own label, Nush. Deepika Padukone is also an active investor betting on multiple enterprises. She co-owns a fashion label, All About You, with Myntra. Her other investments are Furlenco, a furniture company, and a beauty products label, Purplle and the latest being yogurt brand, Epigamia.

@The Box Office

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The Independence Day weekend releases, Mission Mangal and Batla House both enjoyed an unopposed second week in the absence of any new release. This week’s new release, Saaho, is a much-hyped film. Made at a budget of a whopping Rs 350 crore and shot simultaneously in three languages, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. It was expected to arouse much anticipation as it stars Bahubali fame, Prabhas, and as a result of which the Hindi version has been released at about 4,000 screens. From the initial reports, the expectations seem to have been belied as the film is said to be all style and no substance.

*Mission Mangal added Rs 47.5 crore in its second week taking its two week (15 day) total to Rs 173.5 crore.
*Batla House held up very well as the film collected Rs 23 crore taking its two week (15 day) total to Rs 83
crore. (IANS)

Next Story

How did Comedians Disappear from Hindi Films?

The term comedian carried as much weight as the phrase hero in Hindi films.

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Comedy films
Back in the old times, no films were complete without a dose of comedy. Pixabay

BY VINOD MIRANI

The term comedian carried as much weight as the phrase hero in Hindi films. Almost no films, especially a family drama or even a romantic film, was complete without a healthy dose of comedy. Often, the comedy track had little to do with the main narrative and, if at all, a thin connection was devised to keep it relevant to the story.

Like every lead actor who enjoyed his place under the sun, had his period of glory, so did a comedian. There were leading comedians and then there were gap filler comedians. There were comedians who were superstars in their own right. There were comedians who could be loud and there were those who fitted the bill just in B or C-grade movies; loud and crass mostly. And, there were the suave type who made you laugh while not seen to be making an effort at all.

Not only Hindi, every regional language film had its own star comedian with a following of his own. There were a few female comedienne as well. But, they were given just a few minutes of footage and more than their acts, their very appearance made one laugh. The examples are Manorama or Tun Tun.

Bollywood films
Usually bollywood films were designed to cater to the family audience, the often heavy scripts needed to break away from the narrative and comedy was brought in. Pixabay

Usually, the films were designed to cater to the family audience, the often heavy scripts needed to break away from the narrative and comedy was brought in. This was called comic relief. The length of films being longer compared to the films now, this comic relief helped.

The comedy created its own superstars. But, going back to 1950s and ’60s, of course, there were other comedians but the one who ruled the roost was Johnny Walker. He became so popular that roles were written for him especially while giving him all the liberty to improvise as he thought fit. But, as best of filmstars fade out, so did Johnny Walker.

The other comedian actor was on the horizon: the era of Mehmood was here. While Johnny Walker had a typical style of his own with a shrill voice, Mehmood was more versatile. His career spanned to almost two decades and a film without Mehmood, was unthinkable.

Then there was Kishore Kumar. Again, a multifaceted actor who also produced and directed films, he also went on to become the most sought-after playback singer in the 1970s. Kishore Kumar may now be remembered more for his songs but he, along with his brothers Ashok Kumar and Anup Kumar, are always remembered for their evergreen comedy film, “Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi”.

Mehmood did not stick to comedy alone. He loved to indulge in emotional content. His aspirations to make films the way he wanted them, made him start making his own films, some independently and some in joint ventures with other established production houses. Among his most memorable films are “Padosan” and “Bombay To Goa”, which have proved to be evergreen. Mehmood is also remembered for his triple role of father, son and grandfather in “Humjoli”. His three roles are a take on the Kapoors: Prithviraj, Raj and Randhir. Not to forget his character in “Padosan”, which is etched in the memory even today.

Mehmood became so popular that some of his co-stars, the lead actors, felt insecure and thought Mehmood was hogging the limelight in their films and became reluctant to work with him, forgetting that often it was Mehmood who made their films popular and successful.

Writing scenes for comic situation was a job not many could justify. In the case of Johnny Walker and Mehmood, the written script was just an indicator, it was these comedians who made them clapworthy.

Then came a time when writers came at a premium and the filmmakers who believed that a major star was enough to make and market a film, never thought much about a writer who could give him a solid, tight script. The quality of writing was deteriorating. The scripts were poor, forget writing a track for comic relief.

The actor who did comic roles and stood a class apart at that time was Deven Verma. His expressions were always deadpan and yet he could evoke the laughter among the audience from all, the frontbenchers as well as the balconies. While, Verma was a universal choice for all makers, he remained very popular with filmmakers like Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Basu Chatterjee and others who preferred subtle comedy the over loud kind that the others delivered.

Deven Verma’s mantle was taken over by Paresh Rawal. Again, a deadpan face and the way he delivered his lines, did the job for him. Irrfan Khan, Boman Irani and Anu Kapoor are such actors in the presentday Hindi film industry. Their films are always looked forward to.

Johnny Lever can safely be called the last comedian who enjoyed, one may say, a connect with the audience.

In earlier films, buffoonery was not part of the routine. The exception was comedian Rajendranath. He usually played the hero’s sidekick and he would be paired with the heroine’s ‘saheli’. He resorted a lot to buffoonery. Vulgarity and double meaning dialogue had yet to invade the filmmaking.

The 1980s saw a flood of South remakes in Hindi. The remakes followed the original where a pack of villains also served as comedians. They were sinister in intent but comic at the same time. These films would have six to seven comic players at the same time, with Kader Khan leading the pack.

Kader Khan, originally a writer who wrote satire skits, specialised in oneliners and repartees, and usually kept the best lines for himself. He was so busy acting in films that he wrote his scripts/dialogue while shooting. He dictated the dialogue on a Dictaphone and had an assistant transcribe them.

Kader Khan films
Kader Khan was so busy acting in films that he wrote his scripts/dialogue while shooting. Wikimedia Commons

The Kader Khan Gang included lesser comic stars like Asrani, Ranjeet, Jankidas and CS Dubey, while Shakti Kapoor and Amjad Khan, Prem Chopra, Jagdeep, and Tej Sapru alternated between villainy and comedy.

There were those limited-footage comedians like Mohan Choti, Paintal, and Jugnu but the one who drew maximum laughter among them was a teetotaller, Keshto Mukherjee, who specialised in playing a drunkard. People lapped up his act. And there was Bhagwan Dada, who was added to a dance number in many films only to repeat the dance steps he did in his own film “Albela” (1951). It so happened that “Albela” was re-released in late 1970s or early ’80s and proved to be a huge success. Still, Bhagwan Dada was financially not secure and some makers added him so that he got work.

Then, there were Satish Shah, Rakesh Bedi, Satish Kaushik, Tiku Talsania, Deven Bhojani, Dilip Joshi, Krushna Abhishek, and Kapil Sharma who went on to do better on the television.

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But soon, this breed of comic stars became extinct. What drew them away? There were no slots for them and, to start with there were no writers who could create side-tracks for them.

Most of all, the lead actors, from top down, had resorted to doing comic roles even while playing the lead. From Amitabh Bachchan to Govinda, and from Anil Kapoor, Ajay Devgn, Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar to Ranveer Singh and Ranbir Kapoor, the present lot is more into comedy or comic movies.

They leave no special category for comedians. (IANS)