Bollywood's most successful faces in 2004
The one constant law applicable to Bollywood is that equations at the top never change.
By Subhash K. Jha, IANS
And so it was in 2004.
If Shah Rukh Khan ruled the roost among the men, Rani Mukherjee was the queen among the leading ladies.
Here's a rundown of the top five in the two categories.
1. Shah Rukh Khan: His supreme place at the top remained undisputed. In the first half of the year, SRK had his home production "Main Hoon Na" conquering the box office. During the second half he had Yash Chopra designing the seemingly perfect love legend "Veer-Zara". Though it wasn't quite the success it was expected to be, SRK's box office standing remains unchallenged.
At the end of the year, a third film - "Swades" - released. Its performance would prove whether SRK is acceptable to the audience in a different, more accessible avatar than the eye candy heroes he generally plays.
In 2005, Shah Rukh will be seen in only one film - friend Karan Johar's next.
2. Amitabh Bachchan: He appeared in eight films. From pivotal parts in "Khakee", "Dev" and "Deewaar" to cameos in "Lakshya" and "Veer Zaara", the Big B remained big in every part, no matter what its size.
The new year will begin for India's longest-lasting superstar with a knock-out performance in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's "Black", arguably his best ever. Later during the year we'll see him play a law unto himself in Ram Gopal Varma's "Sarkar".
The show just goes on and on for AB.
3. Abhishek Bachchan: It was a decisive 2004 for the junior Bachchan.
He featured in the smash success "Dhoom", as well as the highly rated "Phir Milenge", which released on the same day. Abhishek's performance in Mani Rathnam's "Yuva" is expected to win him all the popular awards for best actor in a negative role (other nominees in the evil category would be Kareena Kapoor in "Fida", Priyanka Chopra in "Aitraaz" and Sanjay Dutt in "Musafir"). And at year-end there was Ram Gopal Varma giving Abhishek's on-screen persona that corkscrew-twist in "Naach". Phew! Talk about variety being the spice of celluloid life.
4. Akshay Kumar: Ajay Devgan had a relatively quiet 2004. The year started on a rocking note for Akshay with a much-lauded comic performance in "Khakee". Later, after two khaki-clad duds "Aan: Men At Work" and "Police Force", Akshay bounced back with a terrific satirical turn in "Mujhse Shaadi Karoge". The year ended with a bang for the new-age Dharmendra when Abaas-Mustan's "Aitraaz", where Akshay playing a victim of female sexual harassment, proved a winner.
5. Saif Ali Khan: After successes like "Dil Chahta Hai" and "Kal Ho Na Ho", they said he was only good for supporting roles. Saif Ali Khan proved the cynics wrong by featuring in a solo hit this year. "Hum Tum" has put this Khan in an enviable category. Whether he'd be able to build on the success provided by this unexpected triumph remains to be seen. Right at the start of the year, Saif gave a startling performance as Urmila Matondkar's antagonist in "Ek Hasina Thi".
1. Rani Mukherjee: Though neither glamorous nor a star in the true sense, Rani exudes a next-door warmth which has taken her to the top of the heap this year. Her solo turn in "Hum Tum" and her strong supporting role in Veer-Zaara have proved her versatility and power to renew herself. Her proximity to all those banners that matter (Karan Johar, Yash Chopra, Sanjay Leela Bhansali....you name it) will ensure a fruitful future for Rani. The new year will start with her best performance to date in Sanjay Bhansali's "Black". Things can only get better for the Rani of the marquee.
2. Preity Zinta: Though she fared badly with the eagerly awaited "Lakshya" and the Salman Khan dud "Dil Ne Jissey Apna Kahaa", after "Veer-Zaara", Preity is now the consummate Yash Chopra heroine. That automatically adds inches to her stardom. Preity is choosing carefully. With her positive attitude to her career she's bound to go places. On the anvil are projects with Karan Johar and Aditya Chopra.
3. Kareena Kapoor: Designated the flop queen, Kareena gave sterling performances all through the year in Sudhir Mishra's Chameli, Mani Rathnam's "Yuva", Govind Nihalani's "Dev" and Ken Ghosh's Fida. At year-end, she sprang two back-to-back hits - "Aitraaz" and "Hulchul" - on the sceptics who said she didn't deserve the huge pay check she commanded. The new year has Dharamesh Darshan's "Bewafaa", Priyadarshan's "Rahen Na Rahen Hum" and Satish Kaushik's "Milenge Milenge" to light up the fire.
4. Aishwarya Rai: This year she fell from grace with two flops "Khakee" and "Kyun...Ho Gaya Na". The Hindi version of Gurinder Chadha's "Bride & Prejudice" was also a downer. But at the end of the day, Aishwarya Rai remains Aishwarya Rai. India's only brand ambassador to Hollywood, her performance in Rituparno Ghosh's "Raincoat" is being raved about. In 2005, Ash has Leena Bajaj's intriguing "Shabd" to start off the year.
5. Priyanka Chopra: Who would believe just a year ago Priyanka Chopra and Lara Dutta were being seen as prime contenders for a place on the glamour throne? Why, just a few months ago, everyone wrote Priyanka off when Rajiv Rai's "Asambhav" somersaulted at the box office. Then came David Dhawan's "Mujhse Shaadi Karogi" and now "Aitraaz", her second hit in a row with Akshay Kumar, where she's swept the show with her seductive siren's act. Suddenly Priyanka Chopra has done what Mallika Sherawat couldn't. She's sexy successful and coveted by mainstream filmmakers.