May 31, 2001,
Is there life beyond the arc lights?
Bollywood’s dos and don’ts
Is there life beyond the arc lights?
BACK in the sixties and seventies they made hearts go aflutter. They were every man’s fantasy and every woman’s envy. Superstars like Dev Anand, Rajesh Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan and more danced to their tune. They made unique fashion statements. From their hairdos to their clothes and accessories, their trend-setting ways were both admired and imitated.
But as the years rolled along, many of these reigning queens began bowing out even as the new millennium ushered in new films and newer sex goddesses. The dimpled Sharmila Tagore, ravishing Rekha, sensuous Dimple, sultry Deepti and gorgeous Rati were consigned to oblivion.
Or, were they? The good news is that many of yesteryear’ dream girls are today’s part-time celebrities and mothers and many waiting-to-be grannies. Many glamourous stars who ruled the silver screen in the sixties and seventies are back in the reckoning — as elderly TV and film stars, as authors, artists or simply as ribbon cutters.
Sharmila Tagore has been keeping in touch with the glamworld ever since Bollywood arclights dimmed for her. Apart from featuring in suitings ads with husband, Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, Sharmila also appeared as Aamir Khan’s grandmother in the 1998 flop, ‘Mann’.
She has done a serial on Star Plus, ‘Zindagi’, in which she played a hostel warden who helps heroine Supriya Pathak cope with the problems of life. In real life, Sharmila is said to dabble in gems and pearls and is an in-demand name as far as inaugurations and ribbon-cutting ceremonies go.
However, some like sizzling Rekha simply don’t have an aptitude for business or showroom inaugurations and are pure artists. Which explains why she never seems to age and has zealously guarded her looks and figure. In the last few years the lady has looked as glamourous and vibrant in films like ‘Madam X’, ‘Bulundi’ and ‘Zubieda’ as she did in the seventies’ blockbusters in which she starred opposite Amitabh Bachchan.
In fact, after ‘Zubieda’, Rekha has been signed on by Prakash Mehra to do the title role in his forthcoming comedy ‘Mujhe Meri Biwi Se Bachao’ where she plays an obese homemaker who goes through a weight loss course and starts looking vivacious and glamourous all over again.
Like Rekha, for many other heroines of the seventies era, the lure of films is too hard to resist. Some take the respectable way out and opt for arty roles. Others grab any good role that comes their way while many opt for television or go into altogether different lines of business.
Jaya Bachchan is another of yesteryear’ heroines who’s making a new niche for herself in the art roles of the motherly kind. First in, ‘Hazar Chaurasi Ki Ma’ and then as the depressive mother of Hrithik and Karisma in ‘Fiza’.
Rati Agnihotri is not that selective, though. After lying low for over fifteen years, she recently made a comeback in Rahul Rawal’s ‘Kuch Khatti Kuch Meethi’ as Kajol’s mom. And she carried herself gracefully opposite Rishi Kapoor. The two are said to have hit off so well as an aging on-screen couple that they are signing many films together.
Rakhee, too, has been craving the arclights and is doing motherly roles. Even today, she retains the freshness and charm as was seen in her interview with a TV music channel recently. She is still the pretty woman who took cinemagoers by storm in the seventies when she made her debut in ‘Jeevan Mrityu’ and went on from one success to another.
She has been through two marriages and has had her lows in life when she took to drinking vodka till she crashed out night after night. Now, of course, she is completely reformed and picks up roles whenever she can. And she has won kudos for the kind of roles she did in ‘Karan Arjun’ and ‘Badshah’.
Despite her playing Anil Kapoor’s mother-in-law in 1990’s ‘Jamai Raja’ and Kamal Hassan mother-in-law in last year’s ‘Hey Ram’ — Hema Malini has not been overly inclined to do elderly roles. After all, she says she wants neither money nor a name as she has plenty of both. So she has gone back to her old love — classical dance.
Already a name to reckon with in Bharat Natayam and Odissi, Hema has once again gone back to her dancing seriously. She does a number of stage shows, enthralling audiences in India, Canada, America, Europe and the Gulf countries.
However she says what gave her the ‘greatest satisfaction’, was the TV serial ‘Jai Mata Di’ in which she portrays the character of Goddess Bhuvaneshwari and her other ‘avatars’ — goddesses Durga, Saraswati and Lakshmi.
The seventies’ sensation girl Zeenat Aman has gone the small screen way. Today she dismisses the image of the ‘Dum Maaro Dum’ girl with a casual wave of the hand and the rich, spoilt brat she played in some of her hit films brings a fleeting blush on the faintly wrinkled face.
Now Zeenat, the oomph girl of the seventies, has found yet another image to cultivate. That of a TV show hostess on B4U. ‘In Conversation with Zeenat’ on the channel is a lively half-hour programme where she talks with the viewers on wide-ranging issues.
The show has all the ingredients that indicate that it will scale the charts as it promises to be different. And if Zeenat can dig out some of her old magic, it is guaranteed to be as big a rage among women as her movies once were among the men.
Television also seemed to be the preferred medium of the seventies’ ‘Chamko’ girl, Deepti Naval. After she bid farewell to Bollywood, she entered the world of TV serials as the director-heroine of ‘Thodasa Aasman’ and a lead in the 104-part ‘Tanav’, the first megaserial on AIDS. Later, however, she began taking a keen interest in other things like poetry, photography and direction.
"I didn’t want to end up wearing white wigs and doing mother roles", says Deepti, still looking stunning as she enters the forties decade. Her latest ‘aavtar’ is that of a high-profile model. But she adds that she wouldn’t mind doing art films like ‘Hyderabad Blues’ and ‘Bombay Boys’. In fact she recently did the role of a social worker in the America-based director Jagmohan Mundra’s ‘Bawandar’.
Dusky Dimple, however, has stayed away from films for the last couple of years and has been devoting her time to the colourful candles she manufactures.
However, this national-award-winning actress may now be planning to go into her second innings in films with the kind of role she did in ‘Mrityudand’.
But why does she want to do that after she had said a virtual farewell to the big screen? "Well, the answer is very simple," says the lady, "Ineeded the money.
No, I am serious, I couldn’t afford the costly cosmetics I’d got used to." Now that’s the most original scent of poverty, if ever there was one!
Bollywood’s dos and don’ts
EVERYBODY knows Rakesh Roshan makes films beginning with the letter ‘K’ and that his father-in-law J.Om Prakash is hung on titles starting with ‘A’. That Juhi Chawla never uses black combs is also common knowledge. And that no film is launched in Bombay on the 13th of any month.
But did you know that megastar Amitabh Bachchan, for all his track record and current standing is actually a bad omen for a majority of Hindi producers? Nobody ever calls him to a film launch, just as Sunil Dutt, Anil Kapoor and Dev Anand are all considered unlucky.
Among the so-called ‘lucky mascots’ for film launches, Dharmendra hold pride of place, followed by Sunil Shetty and Aamir Khan. And Madhuri Dixit will just not give the opening shot for a film, unless her secretary, Rakesh ‘Rikku’ Nath is present on the sets.
Likewise, some studios and hotels hold a reputation of being ‘inauspicious’ the superstitious film folk. For instance, industry hands still talk of how Barsaat took five years in the making and almost ruined Twinkle Khanna’s career because it was launched at Filmistan Studios!
Then there is Nana Patekar who begins every shot by first touching the ground and bringing his hands to his eyes. Govinda used to eat prasad given by his mother before shooting every day. And Akshay Kumar does not eat anything on the sets other than what his mother sends from home.
Music composer Anandji (of the Kalyanji-Anandji duo) makes sure he has coffee in his favourite tumbler before every recording. He would drink half of it straight away and then wait for the other half to get cold before finishing it.
There’s also this sidelight to current heartthrob Hrithik Roshan. When he was born, his father wanted his name to start with ‘R’ like the rest of the family. But the family astrologer advised that ‘H’ would prove more fortunate. So a name was chosen which could he spelt with an ‘H’ but sounded like ‘R’ Hrithik.
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