The names of characters in movies are often well thought out and, at times, the actors are known more by their reel names, says Surendra Miglani
Filmmakers and storywriters often give fictitious names to the characters in their movies. So we have Ashok, Raj, Sunita, John etc on the screen. But such names are not always a figment of their imagination. Sometimes they are well thought out and given with a purpose.
Shahrukh Khan revealed in an TV interview last year that he and his father were big fans of comedian Om Parkash and that in his home production Om Shanti Om he had named his own character Om Parkash Makhija (in the first birth) and Om Kapoor (in the second) as a tribute to the late comedian.
Amrita Singh’s childhood name in real life was Dingie. So her childhood name in her debut film Betaab (1983) was certainly not a coincidence.
Sunny Deol who played the lead role in Betaab became a rage among the young generation after the release of the film. Producer Amarjeet got so much carried away by his popularity that he cast him in his next film, named him Sunny in the story and released it (in 1984) under the title Sunny.
In Kundan Shah’s Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro (1983), Naseeruddin Shah and Ravi Baswani were cast as close friends with screen names Sudhir and Vinod, respectively. Sudhir Mishra, who was one of the story and screenplay writers and assistant director of the film actually gave his own name to Naseer and that of his close real life friend Vidhu Vinod Chopra (production controller of the film and his close friend) to Ravi! By the way, both Sudhir Mishra and Vidhu Vinod Chopra have since become big names in the field of film direction.
Sai Paranjpye ensured that the negative character in her directorial venture Katha (1983) played by Faroukh Sheikh was named Basu Bhatt. This was her way of taking out on filmmaker Basu Bhattacharya who had earlier produced Sparsh (1980) for which Sai wielded the megaphone. A lot of bitterness was generated between Sai and Basu over the issue of the film's release.
Sanjeev Kumar played the role of an unscrupulous business tycoon in Trishul (1978) who could go to any length for the sake of money. It is said that the film’s producer, Gulshan Rai purposely named him R.K. Gupta in the film because of his bitter rivalry with Raj Kapoor (who was nicknamed RK in the film industry).
Composer duo Laxmikant-Pyarelal had a very talented musician Anthony Gonsalves in their team. Manmohan Desai who engaged Laxmikant-Pyarelal for a number of his ventures used this musician’s name for Amitabh Bachchan in his Amar Akbar Anthony (1977). In fact, he even used a song with the words My name is Anthony Gonsalves`85 Nobody must have realised at that the name would become so popular on the screen in the subsequent years. Even this year we had a film called My name is Anthony Gonsalves and last year saw the release of a film called Anthony Kaun Hai?
Subhash Ghai was a fan of cricketers Kalicharan and Vishwanath. Remember his first two directorial ventures were named Kallicharan and Vishwanath?
If some people have drawn their names from real life, there are several cases where reel life has given new names and identities to actors in real life.
Sanjay Dutt in an interview sometime ago revealed that he had come to be identified so much with Munnabhai’s character in Munnabhai MBBS and Lage Raho Munnabhai that people in the street now called him Munnabhai. Thanks to the same Munnabhai series, actor Arshad Warsi has become "Circuit" for the masses.
Manoj Kumar was nicknamed Mr Bharat all over after the character he played in most of his productions based on patriotic themes.
Similar was the case of Amrish Puri who came to be nicknamed Mogambo after his character’s name in Mr India. In his autobiography The Acts of Life, Amrish observed: "When youngsters and old alike come and address me as Mogambo, it feels I have indeed crossed the age barrier in the role. I admit I would never be able to shake off the Mogambo tag".
McMohan once said in a TV interview that most people did not know his real name and identified him as Sambha, the character he played in Ramesh Sippy’s Sholay. Incidentally, Gabbar Singh’s dialogue Tera kya hoga Kaaliya conferred the tag Kaaliya on Viju Khote who essayed that role.
Comedian Rajendranath became Popat Lal for his fans after he essayed the role of person of that name with aplomb in Jab Pyar Kisi Se Hota Hai (1961).