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Bollywood newcomers undeterred by flop wave

By Subhash K. Jha, IANS

Last year Bollywood aspirants had a tough time, and it looks like 2004 won't be too kind to them either.

The latest new faces include Ajay Gehi, who played the callow gangster in Vishal Bharadwaj's "Maqbool", and Gaurav Chanana, Shalini Pal, Kanchan Kaul and Arjan Bajwa, who made a disastrous debut in Kuku Kohli's "Woh Tera Naam Tha".

Udita Goswami, who made her promising debut in Pooja Bhatt's "Paap", isn't exactly flooded with offers either.

All their careers have been effectually wiped off in one swift stroke. In fact Gaurav Chanana even gave up a thriving career in television to pursue big screen aspirations.

Like many of his peers from the small screen, including Amarr Upadhyay and Aman Verma, Gaurav will now have to scamper back to the safety of TV for the succour of stardom.

Television or any other medium, the large screen wannabes have a truly tough time ahead this year.

"No one is interested in checking out newcomers just to see if they're good. A film with no stars gets no opening," says Patna's prominent distributor Roshan Singh.

"'I: Proud To Be An Indian', which was a decent film with a good performance by Sohail Khan is a case in point."

Singh has a point. While the floodgates were opened to newcomers last year, very few except John Abraham, Shahid Kapur, Lara Dutta, Priyanka Chopra and Anuj Sawhny got noticed.

This year the torrent of newcomers will understandably be toned down to a trickle.

Sawhny, who lost the best debutant award to Shahid Kapur at Screen, feels newcomers will have it increasingly difficult.

"Even star children are facing an acceptability problem. We outsiders have it twice as tough. Audiences just don't want to see new faces," he says.

This gifted young Delhi actor made his debut last year in two comedies, "Nayee Padosan" and "Fun2shhh", and will now be seen playing the distinguished Girish Karnad and Waheeda Rehman's grandson in a Hinglish film "Arranged Marriage".

Sawney is perhaps right. Tanisha had a posh pedigree to prop up her starry aspirations as actress Tanuja's daughter and Kajol's sister.

But unlike Kareeena Kapoor, whose ancestry helped her to bloom into a superstar, Tanisha has been virtually wiped out of the turnstiles.

Many high-profile debutants of 2003 like model Aryan Vaid ("Market") and star-son Zayed Khan ("Chura Liya Hai Tumne") are struggling for survival.

In the coming months, the fate of the new breed depends en masse on how debutants like Pooja Kanwal, who will be seen in Rajshri's "Uff Kya Jadoo Mohabbat Hai", model Cleo Isaacs in "Who", and Tarun Arora and Sheen in "Sheen" are accepted.


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