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Are Bollywood stars destined to fail as producers?

By Subhash K. Jha, IANS

Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar has vowed never to produce a film.

"No matter what happens, that's one thing I'll never do. It's too much of a hassle," Akshay told IANS.

"I've seen how producers have to plead with stars to complete their films. It taught me never to trouble my producers, and also to never go into production."

As though to corroborate Akshay's convictions about the pitfalls of production, his colleague Suniel Shetty who turned producer with "Khel" last year is poorer by tens of millions of rupees.

Suniel's health too suffered a setback though he refuses to admit it had anything to do with his failure as a producer.

He is going full-steam ahead with his next production "Rakht" directed by Mahesh Manjrekar and featuring a top-heavy cast helmed by Bipasha Basu.

Sunny Deol turned producer-director with "Dillagi" where he cast himself with his brother Bobby Deol. Sunny is wiser after the experience.

A number of the Deols' home productions, including one launching Sunny's cousin Abhay, are in various stages of production.

Raveena Tandon turned producer last year with "Stumped". Today she shudders at the experience.

"Everyone on the job, including me, the producer, was new at the job. We messed up big time." The production experience taught Raveena who her true friends were.

Now her second production, "Pehchaan", is suffering the tremors of its producer's maiden experience.

Her colleague Manisha Koirala, whose first production "Paisa Vasool" went over-budget by nearly 80 percent, has lost a lot of money, but she still has her spirit in tact.

"I guess even life's worst experiences teach you something positive. The title 'Paisa Vasool' didn't prove prophetic or profitable for me. But I don't regret the experience. I'm proud to have produced a different kind of entertainer," says Manisha.

Manisha is toying with several ideas as her next production even as Pooja Bhatt has moved on to her third production "Paap", this time with herself as a director.

Bhatt says she loves the process of creating cinema far more than acting.

For most stars, production is either another level in their career or a way to avert a dead end in their journey of stardom.

But Jeetendra's acting career was going great guns when he produced "Deedar-e-Yaar" in the 1970s.

The film put the star in the red and he worked round-the-clock, thereby missing out on his family life to make financial amends. He again produced "Sarfarosh" a few years later and was again poorer by hundreds of thousands of rupees.

Now Jeetendra says production isn't his cup of tea.

His colleague Rajesh Khanna tried to turn producer with "Jai Shiv Shankar" in the early 1980s. He even got his wife Dimple Kapadia to co-star. But the film didn't go beyond an announcement.

While there are exceptions - Aamir Khan with "Lagaan" - why are most stars invariably failures as producers?

Character-actress Shammi who produced "Pighalta Aasman" still shivers at the thought of it.

"First the film was launched with Rajesh Khanna and Shabana Azmi and director Ismayeel Shroff who were a hit team after 'Thodisi Bewafaai'.

"Then the two stars backed out and I was left with a project with no lead stars. Fortunately for me Shashi Kapoor and Rakhee stepped in. Otherwise I'd have been on the streets. Never again," says Shammi, echoing the sentiments of most Bollywood actors who prefer to leave production in more adventurous hands.


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