Since Abhishek Bachchan just zung me on Twitter for saying that Bollywood is full of remakes and human remakes (aka star children) these days, I thought I would zing him back with a list of FIVE star children kicking around Bollywood (believe me, there is enough for another list in the future)! Some launches were successful and some... well, some star children were relauched right on into careers in interior design.
This isn’t to say that star children can’t be amazingly talented and wonderful - Sonakshi Sinha (daughter of Shotgun) seems set to be the next big thing, and y'all know I love Hrithik Roshan, Ranbir Kapoor, Rani, and Tabu. And nobody can argue that star children Konkona Sen Sharma, Abhay Deol, and Aamir Khan are some of the best actors in Bollywood today. Star children can be talented directors - and I am grateful that Farah Khan and Zoya Akhtar had a chance to make successful films. Something that might not have happened otherwise because women fight a tough rode in the industry. And star children can be talented producers - we can thank Arbaaz Khan (son of writer Salim Khan) for Dabangg
But for every Farhan Akhtar there is a Fardeen Khan... let’s take a look!
1. Harman Baweja launched in Love Story 2050 (2008)
In perhaps the most spectacular star child flame out of recent years, Harman Baweja was launched directly into the dung heap with Love Story 2050. The son of producer Harry Baweja, Harman was hyped so much and so high that there was nowhere to go but down. Love Story 2050 (which I am slowly recapping here) was going to be INDIA’S FIRST SCIENCE FICTION FILM with HOLLYWOOD-STYLE SPECIAL EFFECTS and ZOMG PRIYANKA CHOPRA DIED HER OWN HAIR RED FOR THIS.
Once the film was released and Harman’s main skill of looking kind of like Hrithik Roshan proved unable to support the weight of an entire film, his career turned ice cold. Projects that he had signed before the release were quietly dropped and his relationship with notorious co-star dater Priyanka Chopra fizzled soon after.
Where is he now: After two more middling films - What’s Your Rashee? and Victory - and a numerologically inspired name change (to Hurman) and then back, Harman is set to be re-launched in a remake of Bommarillu called It’s My Life. The release is currently unscheduled. Still, don't count Harman out just yet... at least he is still getting cast.
2. Uday Chopra launched in Mohabbatein (2000)
My favorite punching bag, Uday Chopra, is son of director/producer Yash Chopra - the “Yash” of Yash Raj Studios, with whom Uday has worked with almost exclusively. In the ten years that Uday has been floating around Bollywood, he has had only a few real hits, all of which were really somebody else’s film. Shahrukh for Mohabbatein and then Hrithik for Dhoom 2. But what Uday lacks in good looks, charm, dancing ability, and humility, he makes up for in well-connected relatives.
After the minor success of Dhoom, Uday got his big launch as a solo hero in Neal’N’Nikki, an unfortunate romantic comedy co-starring Tanisha (Kajol’s sister) set in exotic British Columbia. Despite the racy USP of PREMARITAL SEX, audiences and critics alike refused the film.
While any actor who didn’t call Yash Chopra “Daddy” would have been given the old heave ho after this, Uday was given the chance to, yes, write, direct, and star in another big budget romantic comedy - Pyaar Impossible. (Because he had proved that he knew what audiences wanted?) This embarrassingly personal film had Uday Chopra playing a role that seemed way too close to how he saw himself - a misunderstood genius that everybody makes fun of but is secretly the greatest person on Earth. It had the USP of Priyanka Chopra in short-shorts.
Unsurprisingly, Pyaar Impossible proved impossible for audiences and critics to love at the box office.
Where is he now: Uday is currently licking his wounds over the reception of Pyaar Impossible and haunting Twitter as his own evil twin: Daya Prochu.
3. Esha Deol launched in Koi Mere Dil Se Poochhe (2002)
(image from here)
As Esha’s wiki page proudly states, she won 3 awards (all touting her as the most promising newcomer) for Koi Mere Dil Se Poochhe, a film in which the perpetually relauched daughter of Hema Malini and Dharmendra starred with Sanjay Kapoor (Anil Kapoor’s brother) and former child star Aftab Shivdasani. Despite that auspicious start, her display case seems destined to remain only partially filled.
Alas, Esha’s good looks and ability to wear skimpy outfits could only carry her so far and Esha has gone from top-billed heroine roles to secondary heroine roles to racy “guest appearences” to (allegedly) rehab.
Still, that doesn’t stop her name from popping up in the news every few months with a new plan for yet another relaunch. (Will she have a new sexy avatar? Another villainous avatar? A new seedhi-saadhi avatar? WHO KNOWS?)
Where is she now: Apparently, according to today’s paper, she is currently taking career advice from cousin Abhay Deol. I can only hope that advice is: “See if Twinkle Khanna has any openings in her design firm.” She is also finishing up work on Tell Me O Khuda - a film that is noteworthy for being a Hema Malini vanity project. One from which she fired the original director for mysterious reasons... and one which stars Esha as a girl looking for her father - her father being played her actual father, Superstar Garam Dharam.
4. Zayed Khan launched in Chura Liyaa Hai Tumne (2003)
(Kisses, Zayed, you’re one of the good ones!)
(ETA - Because people are getting outraged. I don' t mean good actor, I mean he seems like a nice guy!)
Just so that you know I’m being fair - I actually have a soft spot for Zayed Khan, nephew of Superstar Feroz Khan. While some star sons sleepwalk through their roles, nobody could ever accuse Zayed of not trying. And nobody could accuse Zayed of not seeing where the chips lie. He had a massive hit as part of Shahrukh Khan starrer Main Hoon Na in 2004 and has mostly stuck to multi-starrers after that, as part of the rotating collection of aging stars and star children who make up the casts of B-grade films like Mission Istanbul (Suniel Shetty, Abhishek, Vivek) and Cash (Suniel Shetty, Ajay Devgn, Esha, Riteish).
Zayed’s one big solo outing was a film that I know only from the uber-annoying promotional trailer that plays in front of EVERY Eros Entertainment DVD released after 2006. (“Junoon, junoon, junoon, ju-nooooo-ooon!”) And despite an admittedly catchy soundtrack from the one and only Himesh Reshemmiya, the film swiftly tanked.
Where is he now: Zayed’s lone 2010 outing was a “friendly appearence” in Anjaana Anjaani but you can catch him in 2011 in a film that is right in his wheelhouse... Tezz (with Tusshar Kapoor, Ajay Devgn, Anil Kapoor).
5. Abhishek Bachchan launched in Refugee (2000)
Come on! I had to include him, right? While I know that many of you enjoy his style of acting and/or his gawky charms, you have to admit that Abhishek (son of the one and only BIG B - AMITABH BACHCHAN) has only been able to hang around in Bollywood for as long as he has because he is the Big B’s son.
The young “B” had a record number of 17 flops before finally getting a hit in 2004’s Dhoom. I recommend checking out the link, since it lists all his flops and hits - 5 at the time (2008), to which we can add... Dostana (with help from John Abraham’s butt) and Paa (with huge amounts of help from Daddy).
Abhishek Bachchan is, at best, a B-grade star at the same level of Ajay Devgn or John Abraham, except much lazier. What separates Abhi from the pack is that he has what Hollywood blind items call “A-list name recognition.” One gets the sense that when Abhi actually tries at a role, we’re all so surprised that we immediately jump to praise him for his performance. What other actor gets such a pass from both production houses and critics? He may not pull in money or a performance but casting him will get people talking - of course, if you are Mani Ratnam and the movie is Raavan, which hinges on his performance, your ploy may backfire. If you are Balki and the film is Paa, which hinges on the great Amitabh Bachchan, then you win the publicity war.
Perhaps Abhishek’s greatest performance - outside of Dostana - has been that of “Bollywood Celebrity.” There is nobody else quite like him on the interview circuit or on Twitter. He is laid back, charming, and completely unfazed by the trappings of celebrity. And he may not give great performances but you can always count on his “cool dude” persona to lend some cachet to songs like “Dus” or “Sabse Bada Rupiya” or to talk really confidently about whatever artsy film he’s currently working on. And in the end, that will probably be what we remember him best for.
Where is he now: Besides zinging me on Twitter, the Junior B is going to be seen in Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey. Directed by Ashutosh Gowarikar, this seems set to be another Umrao Jaan, only minus the pretty costumes and dancing. (But it will see the re-launch of Sikander Kher, son of Kirron Kher). We are almost guaranteed a bloated run time and overly pedantic dialogue delivery from Abhi. If Ashutosh couldn’t get a decent performance out of Hrithik in Jodhaa-Akbar what chance does Abhi have? He’s also got Dum Maro Dum - an allegedly “realistic” film about drugs in Goa (blurgh) - and is possibly doing a cameo in Jackky Bhagnani’s (son of Vashu Bhagnani) relaunch film F.A.L.T.U..
(Ah... good times, video! I had fun making this!)
There are SO MANY MORE and I will get to them - I promise!