May 10, 2001,
Raveena can’t believe her luck
Return of yesteryear heroines
Raveena can’t believe her luck
MUCH has been said and written about Raveena Tandon walking away with the national award for playing the battered wife in Kalpana Lajmi’s ‘Daman’. The general allusion was that she had used her "political connections" to snatch the best actress trophy away from other contenders like Tabu and Karisma Kapoor.
Director Lajmi has stood up for Raveena through this controversy: "Of course, it’s a terrific role, but you have to give it to the actress in her for carrying the film completely on her shoulders. She worked very hard and followed her heart in areas where she felt inadequate."
But there can be no overlooking the fact that most film lovers, including her very ardent fans, are still shocked at Bollywood’s perennial showgirl claiming the highest acting award in the country. Many say that Raveena herself could not believe her luck when the announcement was made.
After all, little of her previous work is of any consequence whatsoever. She may have made a few heads turn with her no-glamour look in films like ‘Ghulam-e-Mustafa’ and ‘Shool’, but she is yet to be mentioned in the same breath as Kajol, Tabu or even Karisma.
After years of nothing but song-and-dance sequences and assembly line portrayals, Raveena had just about perfected the art of Bollywood’s ‘item’ numbers. In fact, there isn’t anyone who can match her formidable oeuvre as a stage show artiste that began with ‘Patthar Ke Phool’ almost a decade ago.
The high point of her career came with that wondrous waist-wiggle in ‘Mohra’ (‘Tu cheez badi hai mast mast...’) and she went on to be the flavour of the sizzling season with whistle-in-the-dark song items like ‘Shehr Ki Ladki’ (‘Rakshak’), ‘Ore Ore’ (‘Ziddi’) and ‘Kisi Disco Main Jaye’ (‘Bade Miyan Chote Miyan’).
Somewhere down the line, Raveena became Govinda’s perfect dance partner, matching ‘jhatka’ for ‘matka’ and ‘mirchi’ for ‘masala’... before the transformation came. She realised there’s more to the muse than the midriff and came up with starrers like ‘Aunty No 1’ and ‘Gharwali Baharwali’.
Her father, filmmaker Ravi Tandon, had no desire to see his darling daughter going through this routine. But Raveena had other plans. She convinced her father and brother (a failed actor himself) to allow her to give showbiz a shot, especially after she broke up with her boyfriend, Akshay Kumar.
It was a decision that the family does not regret now. "My parents have always been my strength and have given me the go-ahead to do anything I believe in," Raveena was quoted as saying soon after the announcement of the national award.
Over the years, the girl has grown to become a darling of the media, thanks mostly to the fodder she provides — which has mostly to do with her quotable quotes. She denies affairs, confirms some, spews venom at colleagues, professes undying loyalty to others, and so on.
The truth is that barring "personal relationships" with the likes of Ajay Devgan, Sunny Deol and Akshay Kumar, Raveena has stayed good friends with most of her male co-stars. Experience has obviously taught her to stay romantically uninvolved with anybody in the film industry at the moment.
Sunil Shetty says she’s "one of the most sporting girls in the business — someone you can just be yourself with". Govinda describes her as a "co-star who keeps me on my feet with witty one-liners" and Jackie Shroff insists "she’s just like one of the boys".
The controversy over her bagging the national award had initially upset her. But she is now back in her elements: "I am quite satisfied my name has been cleared from this mess. I cannot be bothered what the motivations were behind the controversy. I would rather just celebrate my win!"
Return of yesteryear heroines
WHAT makes heroines of yesteryears apply greasepaint and face the camera once again?
"Just like that," replies Neetu Singh, Rishi Kapoor’s wife who is taking the plunge back in tinsel town after almost 20 years with a couple of big screen offers. "I haven’t said ‘yes’ to either. But with the kids grown up and I don’t have much to do at home. I don’t see why I shouldn’t get back to work."
"Working after so many years has automatically helped me chalk out a ‘me-time’ for myself," says Anita Raaj, who made a comeback recently with two successful tele-serials, ‘Aashiqui’ and ‘Eena Meena Dika’. "I can’t say it gives me a lot of artistic satisfaction, but it certainly keeps me busy."
Poonam Dhillon has also returned to the small screen with a health programme, ‘The Chust Durust Show’. That almost all her family members are in the medical profession has certainly helped and for the production unit, she is a "doctor by proxy".
Then there are actresses like Rati Agnihotri and Reena Roy whose comeback dreams are not limited to the television only. While Reena appeared recently in J.P. Dutta’s ‘Refugee’, Rati was seen playing mother in ‘Kuch Khatti Kuch Meethi’.
Says Rati: "I don’t mind playing mother to a teenaged kid on screen simply because I actually have a teenaged son myself. Besides, screen mothers have undergone a lot of change since my time. You can be a smart, self-sufficient career woman wearing trousers as I did in ‘Kuch Khatti Kuch Meethi’."
Agrees Reena: "You do not necessarily have to drape a six yard saree around you and appear as the all-sacrificing and teary-eyed sort if you are to play the mother. This is a cool generation — the kind when a teenager can tell his mother to ‘chill out’."
Most comebacks have not been successful though. Mumtaz’s was one glaring disaster. So was Salma Agha’s. Clearly, audiences were not prepared to see their one-time dream girls deglamourised into matronly women — a reason that still prevents the likes of Zeenat Aman from returning to the silver screen.
Back with a bang
JUST when critics had finished writing obituaries of his film career, he has hopped, skipped and jumped onto the charts again. The star is back with a bang after the national award for ‘Pukar’.
But there’s a difference. Though in ‘Pukar’ he was the main lead, over the past few years Anil Kapoor has been comfortable playing the second hero as in ‘Biwi No. 1’ and ‘Taal’ — the loser who gracefully gives away the girl in the end. "I have to do roles which suit my age and personality.
"I have to market myself correctly," says Kapoor. And that’s been his strength throughout his 18 years as Bollywood’s leading man. He has learnt to adapt. In all his hit films like ‘Woh Saat Din’, ‘Mashaal’, ‘Eeshwar’, ‘Ram Lakhan’, ‘Tezaab’, ‘Mr India’, ’, ‘Beta’, ‘Viraasat’ and ‘Taal’ he has seldom repeated a role.
Indeed, at 43, Anil Kapoor has joined the ranks of stars whose presence in the films makes all the difference between a hit and a flop.
Not the end
Back in the seventies, when ‘Mera Naam Joker’ bombed at the box office, Raj Kapoor didn’t make any excuses. He simply said that in the film business, like in life, no one tries to fall. Failures just happen.
The words must ring true for Juhi Chawla, one of India’s most successful stars, who has scored an unenviable double-duck in ‘Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani’ and ‘One Two Ka Four’.
So is it the beginning of the end for Juhi? Yes, say Bollywood watchers. After her marriage to Jai Mehta and a baby, Juhi herself has not been signing any new film and instead is hurriedly completing the three big projects on hand, ‘Kashmakash’, ‘Yahoo’ and ‘Ek Rishta’. She is a very intelligent girl and knows that with a husband and a baby she may no longer be able to compete with stars like Aishwariya Rai, Priety Zinta, Karishma and Kareena Kapoor and Rani Mukherjee. But she is confident that with a choice of sensible roles she could make a comeback as a thinking man’s actress.
Doing his thing
It’s a filmi situation dreams are made of — to have the luxury of saying no to roles and indulge one’s creative instincts. Aamir Khan is one of those lucky stars who have got the embarrassment of riches as far as offers go. And that, despite the fact that the hits are not happening the way they should have been. But then, ‘Sarfarosh’ and ‘Rangeela’ don’t happen everyday.
Aamir knows that but he still hopes to add his first home production, ‘Lagaan’ to that list. It’s a story of pre-Partition days at a time when the stories of that era have long had their innings in Bollywood. However, knowing Aamir, it is not difficult to get effected by his confidence in the project which could well go down the way Deepa Mehta’s ‘1947-Earth’ did. But even if it does, says the star, he would at least have the satisfaction of experimenting with an idea. Something that can’t be said of lot of other top stars with their own home productions!
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