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Bollywood tries out unusual couples

Subhash K. Jha, IANS

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Ever wondered why we never got to see Amitabh Bachchan with Mumtaz in any film other than "Bandhe Haath"?

Or why Raj Kapoor who made such a fine pair with Nargis never jelled with the other screen queen, Meena Kumari? In the one film that they did together, "Sharda", she played his stepmother!

So what makes a successful pair? Why have the audiences seen Shah Rukh Khan with Kajol so many times but only once each with Urmila Matondkar - in an early film "Chamatkar" - and Karisma Kapoor - in "Dil To Pagal Hai".

Why hasn't one seen Aamir Khan with a heroine of his own generation, like Kajol?

There's a comfort level that all actors seek with their co-stars. Will Shah Rukh seek and find that comfort level with Sushmita Sen in his next film "Main Hoon Na"?

Opinion on how good the pair looks together is divided. But the two actors are dead sure that there's fabulous chemistry between them.

Unusual pairs are certainly the order of the day. Filmmakers are getting out of their traditional mindsets to bring together seemingly incompatible couples.

In "Bewafaa", Dharamesh Darshan has cast the 44-year old Anil Kapoor with the 23-year-old Kareena Kapoor. The same Anil Kapoor plays last year's debutante Lara Dutta's husband in "No Entry".

In Mani Rathnam's "Yuva", Ajay Devgan is paired with, of all people, Esha Deol and in "Meri Biwi Ka Jawab Nahin", Akshay Kumar will be seen with Sridevi for the first and presumably last time.

These pairs belonging to different generations appear to be finding common ground in an effort to create a special chemistry on screen.

In the early 1970s, Rajesh Khanna and Jaya Bhaduri who were superstars in their own right never came together for any film except Hrishikesh Mukherjee's "Bawarchi". But even there they didn't play the romantic lead.

Bachchan, who jelled like hell with Jaya Bhaduri, Zeenat Aman and Rekha, just couldn't form a mutual admiration society with the then biggest female superstar of Bollywood, Hema Malini.

They were paired successfully in Manmohan Desai's "Naseeb". But they actually discovered a compelling compatibility many decades later in "Baghban".

In his heyday, Rajesh Khanna did most of his successful films with Sharmila Tagore and Mumtaz. But when he finally came together with Hema Malini for "Premnagar", the film was a super-hit. Their subsequent films together like "Mehbooba", "Bandish", "Vijay" and the underrated "Dard" were miserable failures.

Shah Rukh's screen coupling with Sushmita seems unusual enough to strike a chord with the audience. His and Sushmita's performing sensibilities differ.

But both are spontaneous, passionate, wacky and unpredictable enough to appear as soul mates.


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