Monday, December 04, 2006

Bollywood Sequels: The Offspring

Beth Loves Bollywood outlined some ways to make sense of the star son/daughter phenomenon that pervades Bollywood. This sounded so interesting that although I'll comment in her blog, I thought I put some thoughts down here anyway.

Beth had the following factors in mind when looking at star offsprings.

  1. "child who most let down parent
  2. child who did/is doing better than parent
  3. "What was Dad/Mum thinking?"
  4. child who is likely to out-do parent in an arena unrelated to on-screen performance
  5. parent who has a level of superwowness that could never be touched by a child's abilities,
  6. no matter how great the child becomes
  7. child who has a character, dialogue, picturization, or costume eerily similar to a parent's
  8. parental scene you would most like to re-cast with the child"
In #1, one could argue that Raj Kapoor was massively let down by all his sons. While the senior Kapoor established himself as a much loved phenomenon by doing tender-broken-hearted, fool-for-love, socially conscious roles, his sons - Rishi, Randhir and the famously and unintentionally comical Rajiv - achieved varying levels of success, none approaching that of their illustrous father.

I suppose you could be underwhelmed by an actor but if his parent was equally unimpressive, you'd leave him out. This results in the disqualification of Kumar Gaurav, who waved at scenes as they passed him by, proudly launched by father Rajendra Kumar (it doesn't matter who you are, you can't wear collars made from frocks and let them upstage you).

But more along the lines of #2 is what I am most interested in. My vote for the male offspring who outdid his father is Hrithik Roshan. Dad Rakesh was a solid B-lister, a man who wore his shirts outside his pants (see Amol Palekar and other poetic Bollywood archetypes) and a swooshy wig that has since passed on as legend. He acted in a number of films, some as a headliner. But he eventually settled into a groove supporting marquee names throughout his career.

Son Hrithik on the other hand burst on the scene as an A-lister and has stayed there ever since - touted by many as the only actor who would challenge the Khan-deadlock on the industry. While I find his need to act with every muscle on his face and every fiber in his eyes somewhat interesting, the man is a pretty consumate star and very competent actor, isn't he?

And the winners for me in the female category are Karishma and Kareena Kapoor, who have far outstripped their mom Babita's fame (after adjusting for media inflation). Babita toiled as a C-lister in thankless roles in sometimes memorable films. But after a series of frightful 80s-inspired turns with actors like Govinda, elder daughter Karishma established herself as a force to be reckoned with in the pre-Aishwarya era. Later as her star waned, younger sister Kareena walked on the scene, primed to be a star. Despite numerous flops, she successfully navigated an image makeover (gone: bubbly teen. in: mature chick equally comfortable in slacks and sarees) and produced some decent revenue for her producers.

Finally in #3 ("What was Dad/Mum thinking?") I nominate Rahul Khanna, son to Vinod Khanna and younger sibling to Akshaye. While it's hard to live up to someone like Vinod, who I believe genuinely had the super power of heat vision, what I've watched of Rahul Khanna makes me wonder where the famous Khan personae vanished. You can't just walk your way through shots, Mister! At some point, you have to act.

More here on Bollywood families.

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