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Bollywood stars who made a stunning impact

By Subhash K. Jha, IANS

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Stardom steals in slowly... Or it comes in spurts.

Here's looking at those who made a stunning impact in unexpected ways:

a. Shammi Kapoor in "Tumsa Nahin Dekha": Yaaahoooooo! The jungle call signalled the beginning of a new era of hero-worship in our country. Shammi Kapoor epitomised the sexual awakening of the hitherto staid leading man. He was wild, unpredictable and exciting. He romanced the nubile nymphets as though he was Tarzan to the coy Janes.

And to think Shammi had 20 flops behind him before he came to Nasir Husain's "Tumsa Nahin Dekha" in 1957! To get there, he shaved off his moustache and reinvented his image to become the Indian Elvis Presley. The pelvis became a pivotal character in our films thereafter. If "Tumsa Nahin Dekha" showed him to be indeed a guy never seen before, "Junglee" consolidated his image as a rebel without a pause.

b. Rajesh Khanna in "Aradhana": The year was 1969. A short, pimple-faced newcomer named Jatin Khanna had already done three flop films - "Raaz", "Aurat" and "Baharon Ke Sapne" - when he came along to sweep aside all competition and forced the media to coin the term superstardom.

Rajesh Khanna's double impact in Shakti Samanta's "Aradhana" as father and son is unparalleled. For four years from 1969 to 1972, Khanna was the unchallenged emperor of the box office. The silver, golden and diamond jubilees simply rolled out as hysteria swept across the nation.

Crowds thronged to his residence Ashirwaad every morning for a glimpse of "the god". But then Rajesh Khanna took his image seriously. His ego became larger than his charisma. After a splutter of hits in 1974, he faded away as quickly as he had touched the sky.

c. Amitabh Bachchan in "Zanjeer": The Bachchan rage was delayed by about three years. After 13 flops, Amitabh Bachchan came into his own as the angry young cop in Prakash Mehra's "Zanjeer". The role had been turned down by everyone, from Dev Anand to Dharmendra. No leading lady except Jaya Bhaduri was willing to work with Bachchan. History was made within the first weekend when "Zanjeer" gave birth to a new kind of anti-establishment celluloid hero and also saw the final seal on Rajesh Khanna's career. Amen.

d. Dimple Kapadia in "Bobby": "I am Bobby, mujhse dosti karoge?" No more captivating words were uttered by any actress in the history of mainstream Hindi cinema. At 14, Dimple Kapadia became the youngest and most alluring rage of India after her effortless performance as Bobby Braganza.

Spawning a harvest of fashions and trends, including the famous polka-dot tops, exuding a talcum freshness, Dimple after "Bobby" was almost a rage like her husband Rajesh Khannna after "Aradhana". She chose to give it up to marry... only to return after two daughters and a broken marriage to another phase in her career.

e. Jaya Bhaduri in "Guddi": In her own unique way, Jaya Bhaduri too heralded the new heroine. Almost devoid of makeup, stunningly spontaneous and utterly endearing, Jaya in Hrishikesh Mukherjee's "Guddi" in 1971 played a schoolgirl with a huge crush on Dharmendra.

She immediately became a middleclass icon. In an era when glamour girls Hema Malini and Zeenat Aman ruled the roost, everything Jaya touched turned into gold... Until she decided to give it all up for matrimony with Amitabh Bachchan.

f. Kumar Gaurav in "Love Story": After the release of his maiden film "Love Story", Gaurav almost became the new pinup boy. Girls swooned, boys followed his clothes and mannerisms. The dizzy spell lasted exactly for a year. What happened? Gaurav chose badly. Every film he chose, from "Teri Kasam" to "Star" to "Romance" to "Lovers", constituted a litany of flops.

The last straw was "Naam", a home production designed by Gaurav's dad Rajendra Kumar where brother-in-law Sanjay Dutt walked away with all the kudos.

g. Hrithik Roshan in "Kaho Na...Pyar Hai": The Rajesh Khanna era seemed to return when Rakesh Roshan's son turned towards Amisha Patel to say "Kaho Na...Pyar Hai". The entire nation and its grandmas fell in love with Hrithik Roshan.

From Sridevi's little daughter who stood on her balcony with a little suitcase saying she was waiting for Hrithik's aircraft to whisk her off, to Rekha who wished he were her son, Hrithik's popularity cut across all dividing lines. Subsequent films were duds. But now after "Koi Mil Gaya", Sridevi's little girl is smiling again.

h. Urmila Matondkar in "Rangeela": The minute she strolled into sight in Manish Malhotra's micro-mini with an attitude and a walk to match, a star was born. Like Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan, Urmila wasn't a newcomer in her star-making vehicle. But she was born anew, reinventing the entire look and demeanour of the Hindi film heroine, just like Jaya Bhaduri 25 years earlier. Today Urmila has carved a place for herself among the actors of her generation.

i. Aamir Khan in "Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak": "Who's the boy? Ask the girl next door!" The blurbs announcing Aamir Khan's post-debut arrival gave nothing away... Until the diminutive chocolate-box hero arrived on screen, strumming "Papa kehte hain". Unlike the other Khan superstars Shah Rukh and Salman, Aamir's impact was sudden and overnight.

After "Lagaan" he has slotted himself in a super-exclusive one-film-in-three-years slot and is playing the lead in "The Rising" directed by Ketan Mehta.

j. Mallika Sherawat in "Murder": Though a section of Bollywood continues to be catty about her, Mallika Sherawat has undoubtedly made a bludgeoning impact.

As star-discoverer Ram Gopal Varma says, "Today she's hotter than any female star in the country because she knows her body and mind and puts them both to optimum use." With her upfront attitude and unabashed sexuality, Mallika has willy-nilly ushered in a new kind of cinematic heroine, just like Jaya Bhaduri and Urmila Matondkar.

It would be interesting to see where Mallika takes her triumph from here. But to doubt the impact of her pout in "Murder" is to shy away from reality. Wake up and smell the coffee!


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