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May 12, 2010 04:10:14 PM IST
Enkayaar, Bollywood Trade News Network
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Acting is a process that is accentuated by mannerism and defines an actor in any kind of role that he plays. For an actor it is his route to create a permanent place among his fans. Where it to be viewed from this perspective in the current category it is difficult to find an actor or an actress who had patented his mannerism in such a manner, though without applying for it, that whenever the concerned actor appeared on the screen, it his mannerism that starts finding expression naturally from the audience. It was indeed the benchmark about the popularity of that film star.

During the golden times of Indian cinema, such characters thrived in large numbers and no directors worth his salt could think about making a film without taking them. Among the shining luminaries of this kind, if a list were to be made the major actors would include Johny Walker, Om Prakash, Mehmood, Keshto Mukerjee, Tun Tun, Shashi Kala, Manorama etc.

They really enthralled the audience with their mannerism and there presence in films in one form or the other was a sine quo non for the film directors as the element of humor or pathos vested with them. So a Johny Walker had the style of dragging his left leg, and speaking in a nasal twang reaching a crescendo, an Om Prakash used to bank on voice modulation to enthrall his fans, while a Mehmood used to capitalize on his Hyderabadi accent and the twirl of the eyes to create an element of comedy into the scene. He was also among the first actors that introduced an element of fear and pathos into his acting. The other end of spectrum was developed by Rajender Nath who developed his forte by creating buffoonery through props and devices, be it getting dressed as a female riding a scooter etc., all.

In the similar manner a Manorama by just twitching her eyebrows could convey the message of meanness or for that matter a Bindu and a Shashikala. They defined meanness in Hindi cinema. Ajit was another such example who used to rely on his baritone voice to create menace.

Incidentally, these mannerisms once they had become signature statements, for these stars continued to be repeated in film after film but these stars never lost the love of the audience. It could be owing to the fact that the exposure of the audience was very limited during those times and therefore the repeat performance did not matter to them much, as the periodicity of repeat was immense. Films used to be made at a leisure pace and the audience therefore waited in anticipation for encores.

Sadly enough, as the second generation came along it could maintain the same level of rapport with the audience and their careers floundered. The change also began when the mainstream took it upon themselves to enact all these roles, be it the role of the comedian, or a villain, or a tramp, so the specialization shifted from character actors to the main actors, and therefore in the second generation there hardly exists a character actor who can be identified with the mannerisms that their parents were famous for. The critics are of the view that this change in a big way, when Big B became famous and started dabbling in comedy. Once a main actor started delving into this genre, obviously, the loyalty of the audience also shifted from character actors to these mainstream stars. Now the mainstream actors started coming as an all inclusive package and in this melee the character actors were nearly wiped out from the face of Hindi cinema.

From the time when a film could not be completed if one of the character actors mentioned above was not there in the films to the time when they have become extinct Hindi cinema has traveled a long distance. But may be, the manner in which the films are flopping, it is the time to have a relook into the repositioning of the entity called character actors into the films.

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