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Feud for thought in Bollywood

By Subhash K. Jha, IANS

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Stars not seeing eye to eye is not an uncommon occurrence in Bollywood. Years ago, Dilip Kumar and Raj Kapoor could hardly be in the same room without wincing.

But there was a difference. They kept their feelings away from the limelight. True, they avoided each other like the plague. But no one could guess that they were at loggerheads.

Or that Mala Sinha and Sharmila Tagore had a physical fight on the sets of "Humsaya". According to folklore, Mala Sinha actually slapped Sharmila.

Simi Garewal, the archetypal outsider in the film industry, remembers how malicious the milieu could get in those days without the press being any the wiser.

"I recall I was a rank newcomer. This top actress who was being wooed by all the big banners was really nice to me at a party. I was elated and relieved. But soon in the toilet I overheard the star's mother saying, 'Why are you being nice to her? She's just a newcomer!'

"I was shattered. Ever since, I saw actresses going out of their way to smile at me on the sets, only to feel insecure about my presence on the editing table."

Onscreen insecurities are a part and parcel of the acting profession. Though Sharmila was chummy with both director Yash Chopra and leading man Rajesh Khanna during "Daag", she apparently wanted a crucial confrontation scene to be re-shot.

And just for the record, during the shooting of Raj Kanwar's "Har Dil Jo Pyar Karega", Rani Mukherjee and Preity Zinta were best friends, only to have the friendship fall out of the nearest window when both vied for the same roles in the Karan Johar-Yash Chopra camp.

Then Rani made the classic statement: "Just because we shot together people made us out to be best friends."

Can two actresses ever be friends? "They can be and I am friendly with a lot of actresses like Aishwarya Rai," said Preity.

So what ails the Amisha Patel-Kareena Kapoor equation? What really bothers Amisha about Kareena? Is it just the latter's pedigree that allowed her instant entry into films?

The two actresses have never worked together, hardly ever come face to face and move in separate circles.

Amisha was Kareena's replacement in Hrithik Roshan's debut film "Kaho Na...Pyar Hai". Could that be the reason for Patel's ranting? The latest and most ridiculous quote being, "I'm glad my audiences don't see me as an in-your-face roadside call girl."

The obvious reference was to Kareena's sterling performance as a sex worker in "Chameli".

Amisha's catty attack on Kareena reminds one of Shabana Azmi and Smita Patil in the 1970s. Both extremely gifted and articulate creatures, they were almost in the same position as Kareena and Amisha today.

Every prized art house role that went to Shabana was presumed by the other actress to have been written for her. And so what if Gulzar and Mrinal Sen denied having offered "Libaas" and "Khandhar" to Smita? She believed they were hers.

Raveena Tandon, who's a friendly soul, didn't know what hit her when during a stint for Sanjay Gupta's "Aatish" in Mauritius, Karisma Kapoor nearly came to blows with her.

For some time the yellow press had a field day recording the guarded cattiness of both actresses whispering about "badly brought-up filmy kids".

Mamta Kulkarni made it a habit to lash out at as many actresses as possible. It was her way of asserting her life force, and never mind if her ranting made all her colleagues laugh in her face.

When she hit out at Manisha Koirala, the latter being the firebrand that she is, retaliated. The insults and counter-insults were exchanged over a prolonged period of time and print, until Mamta faded away.

Manisha got into another infamous spat with Aishwarya Rai over a guy both had dated. Poor Jackie Shroff got caught in the crossfire when he casually mentioned in an interview that Manisha was a far warmer person than Ash.

The print medium virtually had a field day when Kim Sharma recently called poor Gracy Singh every name in the book. Gracy's crime? She had commented on Kim's vamp-like clothes.

Anything from a common boyfriend to a shared dress designer to a casual remark about a colleague can trigger off a war of words in the press between two actresses.

Surprisingly it's never the same between two male actors. No matter how much they loathe each other they never complain in print. But in private, everyone from Shatrughan Sinha to Vivek Oberoi will offer you a mouthful of sly insinuations about their colleagues.


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