Promising debutants of 2004
As usual there was a truckload of them, the wannashines and the wannabes who flooded the marquee. But very few left a mark.
By Subhash K. Jha, IANS
There was Ajay Gehi in "Maqbool" and Gaurav Chanana in "Woh Tera Naam Tha", Shawar Ali in "Hawas", Yash Pandit in "Rok Sako To Rok Lo", Pooja Kanwal in "Uuf...Kya Jadoo Mohabbat Hai"... few managed to fly above their undoubtedly deplorable launch pad.
Some did, however, make their presence felt even if their films did not do so well. Here's looking at the newcomers who made a difference.
1. Sammir Dattani: Surely the life-saver among the newcomers of 2004. Released on the same day as Mani Ratnam's "Yuva", Sammir's launch pad "Uuf...Kya Jadoo Mohabbat Hai" would have come and gone without a whisper if it wasn't for his ability to hold the camera with his steady gaze. All of 22, Sammir is the youngest and by far the brightest newcomer in tinsel town.
His sparkling screen presence in the listless "Uuf..." was noticed by the entire industry. But if you really wish to see this all-rounder in full form watch him in his Kannada film "Mona Lisa" released a month before "Uff..." Romancing starlet Sadaa in sleek cars, fighting the baddies on roller-skates, no wonder Sammir is known as the Hrithik Roshan of Kannada films!
2. Udita Goswami: Though Pooja Bhatt's "Paap" didn't do well, the sinewy, young, nervous looking girl with the upturned nose and a great body whipped up a steamy sensuality in John Abraham's company. Though she doesn't feature in any significant new film, Udita still has the potential to rise above her flop debut.
3. Kunnal Kapoor: Tall, wiry and faintly intense, this Kapoor came forward after assisting Rakesh Mehra in "Aks". His debut alongside Tabu in the enigmatic "Meenaxi" was noticed enough for him to sail forward, though very tentatively. Though a couple of very important filmmakers showed interest in him, Kunnal has only been finalised for a supporting role in his mentor Rakesh Mehra's next "Rang De Basanti".
4. Soha Ali Khan: Soha is flooded with offers even before her first film. She has already completed two Bengali films. Her first Hindi release "Dil Maange More" with Shahid Kapur carries excellent reports. Even without being seen in Hindi films, Soha is the most written about newcomer in Mumbai. Pedigree helps, and yes she does look very different from the conveyer-belt products who swamp Bollywood like mannequins at a departmental store. Her assignments include Hriday Shetty's film with Sammir Dattani.
5. Vatsal Sheth: TV's "Just Mohabbat" kid grows up to be a guy crazily in love with his...car! "Taarzan The Wonder Car" wasn't quite the turn-on that audiences look forward to. Nevertheless in a year abysmally short of promising newcomers, Vatsal did leave a marginal mark. No assignments on hand. But last heard Madhur Bhandarkar was thinking of signing him on.
6. Gayatri Joshi: Being the heroine of an Ashutosh Gowariker movie amounts to something. Though admittedly Gracy Singh of "Lagaan" didn't quite make it to the top of the charts, Gowariker's new discovery has Bollywood agog. In "Swades", Gayatri is paired in with Shah Rukh Khan, no less. Those who have seen her compare her with Aishwarya Rai. Those who haven't liken her to Gracy. Oh well.
7. Ayesha Takia: "Taarzan The Wonder Car" girl. Launched by Abbas-Mustan, Ayesha has done a number of south Indian films. She'll soon be seen with Shahid Kapur in "Dil Maange More" and right after that with debutant Abhay Deol in "Socha Na Tha". Busy for someone who didn't quite make the mark. But then 2004 was the year of disappointing debuts, remember?
8. Akshay Kapoor: A trained actor from New York, Akshay in Kabir Sadanand's "Popcorn Khao...Mast Ho Jao" was refreshingly offbeat in his interpretation of the Archie-Betty-Veronica triangle. He played the role with intensity. No follow-up assignments, though.
9. Nakul Vaid: Though he wasn't exactly a newcomer in "Ab Tak Chappan", Nakul's impact as the novice cop just learning to pull the trigger without a flinch was so precisely pitched that we can safely say a new watchable actor with the potential to become a star had arrived. Wonder what's keeping the talent-starved industry from lapping him up.
10. Mallika Sherawat: And finally the mind blowing Mallika. Agreed she had already kissed her sway into sensationalism a year ago in "Khwahish". Also agreed that at the end of 2004, she messed up her chances big-time with the mirthless comedy "Kis Kis Ki Kismet". But no one can deny the fact that with "Murder", a star was born.
Utterly uninhibited before the camera, Mallika symbolises the triumph of on-camera frank-speak. Her off-screen brashness bordering on arrogance and her stubborn insistence on playing the recluse after "Murder" has created a strange curiosity and repulsion about this sensational discovery of 2004.
Sorry, the other cheesecake girls like Cleo Isaacs ("Woh"), Meghna Naidu ("Hawas"), Flora Saini ("Love In Nepal") and Rashmi Nigam ("Popcorn Khao...Mast Ho Jao") looked positively cheesy in comparison.