Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Five Star Children Who Should Follow Uday Chopra's Example...

As I was writing my Box Office Poison entry on Mission Istaanbul my mind kept cycling back to this one thought - why does it offend me so much to see Zayed Khan as the lead of this film? In the piece, I theorize a bit on why he was chosen, including his (most likely) low price and the influence of the producers, and what it said about Apoorva Lakhia’s lack of respect for his audience. It’s that final bit that I really want to dig into here because I think when producers thrust these star children at us in film after film, even as they are rejected at the box office, it does show a real lack of respect for the very people who are supposed to pay money to go and see the films.

While it’s obvious that talent can be passed down through the generations, it’s not the only reason that certain professions seem to run in certain families. To take an example close to home, not only am I a librarian, but so is my mother and her sister, a great-aunt, and even my own sister is considering earning her library degree. And while a flair for information is clearly genetic, I would be lying if I said that growing up surrounded by libraries and already having some connections in the industry didn’t help in getting me where I am today. But as some star children quickly find out, innate talent and connections aren’t everything you need to become a successful professional. There is also the matter of hard work, discipline, and luck.

Just like my mother was pleased to help me take on a career in librarianship, I know there are many parents in Bollywood who are eager to help their children in the film industry and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Problems begin to enter when filmi parents are so determined to launch their darlings into a filmi career that they overlook Junior and Junior-ette’s lack of talent or lack of drive. Junior-ette may have been driven enough to lose 40 pounds for her debut but if she just can’t work a camera, what good does it do? And innate talent can only get Junior so far before his unwillingness to develop skill and technique will halt his growth. The magic combination of talent whipped into shape by parents willing and able to provide the best instruction is what makes that marvelous star child who can escape the aura of a famous family.

There are quite a few fine star children working in the industry today that prove my point - Hrithik Roshan, Salman Khan, Aamir Khan, and Ranbir and Kareena Kapoor may have had charmed starts, but they have all worked their way up to the top echelons of the industry on their own merits. Audiences love them for who they are and not who their parents were, although usually we do love their parents, too.

But what happens when audiences (and critics) don’t think Junior and Junior-ette are as wonderful as Mummy and Daddy think they are? Do Junior and Junior-ette deserve a film career just because they want one? This is where my resentment towards star children comes in. I would argue that, no, star children do not deserve a film career and we, the audience, owe them nothing but a chance to please us. When Junior and Junior-ette’s parents refuse to listen to the audience’s verdict and insist on launching their babies again and again with a name change or a new look, it becomes insulting.

Of course the film industry is a business and films need to be sold but films are different for cola or sneakers in that even the most mainstream fluff, no, especially the most mainstream fluff is playing out our fantasies and dreams on a big screen. Ride along with Dharmendra as he plays a super-spy and dishooms Shetty and romances Sharmila Tagore! Or leave with Kajol as she boards a train for Switzerland and have ShahrukhKhan fall in love with you! When we hand over our hard earned money to pay for a film, what we want is to get out of ourselves for a few hours and live a bigger, glossier, and more romantic life. One or another brands of cola might taste good but visions of sugary, carbonated beverages are not the stuff dreams are made of.

People feel connected to their favorite heroes and heroines. We want to support them. And most viewers are willing to give Junior and Junior-ette a fighting chance. We’ll accept a flop debut and if Junior has enough charisma to earn some raves for his performance, like Ranbir Kapoor in Saawariya, the flop debut will never even be mentioned. But there comes a point in every floptastic star child’s career when audiences stop blaming the scripts and start blaming Junior. Did Neal’N’Nikki flop because of the terrible script? Maybe. (It’s on my list of films to Box Office Poison!) but Pyaar Impossible certainly flopped because audiences were tired of Uday Chopra being shoved down our throats. Pyaar Impossible could have had a genius-level script and I suspect it would still have flopped. (Although, to be fair, how does any of us know it didn’t since nobody saw it.)

One of the biggest traps that star children fall into is that they start their careers aiming too high. Not everybody has what it takes to be a solo hero or heroine right out of the box. We forget that even such well-loved heroes like Vinod Khanna or Shahrukh Khan didn’t start only doing solo hero projects, so why is Junior aiming to those only? The smart path is one forged by that starriest of star kids, Saif Ali Khan. After his solo projects didn’t do well, the chhote nawab kicked around for years as the third point of a love triangle in two hero films before things clicked for him in Dil Chahta Hai - a three hero film, I might add. And it worked for him. He built up his chops, learned a thing or two about the business, and then strode to box office domination in his 30s.

And then there are the ones who continue to bore us with their projects and annoy us with their continual bold faced name press coverage. These are the ones who suck up all the energy out of a frame of celluloid and yet still end up on the cover of Filmfare. Can you all please retire already?

Now that Uday Chopra has finally announced retirement, here is my current rogues gallery of star children who can’t take a hint.

Harman Baweja

Look, bro, you may have changed your name from Harman to Hurman and back again, but we still know who you are. And we still ain’t buying it.

"I never needed to latch on to anyone for professional or personal gains. I never have. I never will. What I was put through after the release of Love Story 2050 was totally uncalled for. It was almost as though I had committed a crime. I don't understand why I had to face so much flak. I'm not the first debutant to deliver a dud. Even Neil Nitin Mukesh's debut film didn't live up to expectations, but he was treated far more kindly. I think the idea was to demoralise me."

Harman Baweja, post flop debut.

Ah... but, see, the difference was that a) every frame of NNM’s debut film was not dedicated to showing us how AWESOME and ROCKING he was, which meant that the gulf of expectation between a the desired ALL TIME BLOCKBUSTER AWESUUUUM!!1!!1111! result and the actual middling take was not quite as comically large and b) people enjoyed Johnny Gaddar... unironically.

Thankfully, it seems B-town has gotten the memo about Harman and his one release coming up is It’s My Life with Genelia D’Souza. It has 47 fans on Facebook.

Zayed Khan

I used to like Zayed Khan well enough, when I only saw him as the third hero in a three hero film. His brand of floppy-haired overacting fit in just fine to things like Blue, where he was back up to Sanjay Dutt and Akshay Kumar. I thought he had learned his lesson after Mission Istaanbul, Dus, Rocky, Fight Club... and all the other films he had been in except Main Hoon Na, flopped miserably. Sure, some of those films would have flopped anyways but NOT ALL OF THEM. So, why then is he re-launching himself opposite the merely adequate Dia Mirza in Love Breakups Zindagi? WHO GAVE HIM THAT MONEY? You are just wasting everybody’s time!

"Whenever people tell me I can’t do it, I become even more determined. As a child if my parents said- don’t go out, I did. My family has provided me with unconditional moral and emotional support. I exist in never-say-die surroundings. My mom always says, one has to keep creating opportunities regardless of what people say. I ignored cynics and just kept working. People said I shouldn’t do solo-hero films. But here I am ready with another solo-hero film Rocky. I feel I’ve come a full circle since my debut in Chura Liya Hai Tumne."

Zayed Khan before the release of Rocky

Here’s a tip from me - if the people telling you that you shouldn’t do solo-hero films are YOUR AUDIENCE, you should probably listen to them. Defiance may score you points with the girls in your high school but it’s not a solid basis for a career.

Esha Deol

Despite the fact that Esha Deol had worked her way down the hero ladder to Rapey McRaperton Shiney Ahuja (Hijack, 2008... FLOPPED) before dropping out of sight completely, for some reason, her mother is convinced that audiences are just dying to see Esha not just back on screen, but in a SOLO STARRER.

Tell Me O Khudda is being made for one person only - Hema Malini.

A few of the movies that you guys [Fardeen Khan and Esha Deol] have done together haven't worked at the Box Office...does it bother you?

That's not in my hands. I'm an actress.

Esha Deol, before her... "hiatus."

Okay, then, Esha. You have no responsibility for crappy performances or choosing crappy films and we have no responsibility to continue funding your shopping habits with our ticket money.

Neil Nitin Mukesh

Neil may think he lucked out when his debut film earned him some notice but I think he would have been better off doing more small roles before jumping into solo hero projects - all of which have tanked, some pretty notoriously. (Anyone for Jail?) Also, he was the weakest actor BY FAR in New York - a film that co-starred Katrina Kaif and John Abraham. Yeah.

He’s stuck in multistarrer limbo right now with Players and if he’s smart, he’ll stay there for a while and work on his acting chops.

Shruti Haasan

Just, no. Having seen two of Shruti’s three films - the two that flopped - I can honestly say that her acting skills are, at best, adequate. So how is she getting roles and opposite really good heroes? Oh, yes, her father and her boyfriend. (Is she still dating Siddharth?)

Take a good look a couple pictures, up Shruti... I see some Shiney Ahuja starrers in your future. Even Esha Deol once got roles opposite Salman Khan...

"I don’t think I lack anything as an actor, it’s just that sometimes, some things don’t work out for you. But that’s okay. I know I have the drive to keep growing as an actor and my best is yet to come."

Shruti Haasan, post-Luck


Bombay Talkies said...

Agreed on all of them.

(I was nervously scrolling down your list, hoping I wouldn't have to bust out my passionate defense of Abhishek Bachchan in the comments.) ;)

Filmi Girl said...

@bombay talkies LOLLLL! Well, I knew I didn't want to fight that battle again but, also, I don't think Abhi should retire... I just think his talents are often not well served by the projects that he takes on.

I'm actually looking forward to his two hero film with Ajay. THAT could be an interesting pairing!

Bombay Talkies said...

I really wish he'd stick with comedy--I think he's brilliant at it. I could watch him in the first half of Dostana every day and not get sick of it. He does deadpan really well.

Drama? He has his moments. What I really really hate is the cop/badass character (Dum Maro Dum, Dhoom, etc). I tend to hate that stock character from all but one or two actors but especially with Abhi.

I think your entire list would be well served by going into soap operas.

Amaluu said...

LOL - I was gearing up to defend Abhi too! Thanks FG for sticking with those that truly deliver duds. :-)

PS said...

Star-kids-are-(insert your favorite negative here) bandwagon is annoying. If you think that certain star kids are thrust upon us then we have option of opting out of their movies-It's not like somebody is sending you a monthly bill for looking at all the posters and trailers!!

IF you think certain Roshan or Kapoor or Khan has worked hard to justify their position you're totally mistaken. Most of the people work hard, some succeeds some doesn't-Luck matters-Luck matters a lot in film industry, where some one else good/bad performance can make/break a film, and eventually careers.

I'm no fan of 5 kids you have mentioned here and can add some of my own but picking on star kids for no reason is just beyond me.

Jess said...

I have to say I actually enjoyed 'Pyaar Impossible' Priyanka took a 1 dimensional character and gave it some personality, and Uday was kind of endearing. Besides I'm a sucker for "nerd gets the girl" stories. There aren't enough of those in bollywood.

I kind of want Harman's film with Genelia to be released already, because as much as I can't stand him, I think she is adorable. And I've seen Bommarillu and Santosh Subramanium already so I feel like I should see the Hindi version too.

Filmi Girl said...

@PS Did you even read the intro to my post?! I'm not picking on star kids in general and it's not for "no reason." Ai yi yi... I did mention luck but I hard work is important and I do think that some of those star kids I mentioned really don't work hard at all.. and other ones work hard but have no talent.

Nobody "deserves" a film career...

@Jess Aha! See, you proved my point about Pyaar Impossible! ;)

KimT said...

Great piece. Zayed Khan (and Fardeen Khan, too) just plain bothers me. Neither are talented nor have any star charisma.

Count me in as someone who liked Pyaar Impossible just a little. I'm glad Uday is retiring, but I kind of find him "endearing" too.

I think I'm also one of the few people looking forward to O Tell Me Kkhuda. Deol, even with her "crazy eye" look (I think you call them dead eyes)has her moments or maybe I just like her for the reflected glory of Hrithik in the one with the ridiculous Paddington Bear bit. Anyway, if Bobby Deol keeps getting roles so should she. There's a star child I just don't get!

Yunus Perveez said...

yep, I was gonna add Bobby to that list too. Altough he hasn't been doing solo hero movies in a while, it is kinda cute to see how much the other Deols love him more than the general audience does.

Filmi Girl said...

@KimT I left out Bobby for the same reason I left out Abhi... I don't think he's hopeless like these five but I do think (like Abhi) that he often ends up in roles that do nothing for him. :)

Jess said...

Every time I see Bobby in a film as the main hero, he is just playing a total jerk. I'm always baffled that filmmakers expect people to like him like that.

maeve66 said...

Me, too, on liking Pyaar Impossible; I find Uday Chopra kind of endearing and cute (my nieces like him too) and I thought the unending product placement for Apple was HI-larious. Especially the song picturization in an Apple store. I mean, that's fucking classic.

Note from Filmi Girl:

I love Bollywood - and all the ridiculous things that happen in Bollywood - but it doesn't mean that I can't occasionally make fun of various celebrities and films.

If you don't like my sense of humor, please just move on by - Trolls are not appreciated and nasty comments will be deleted.

xoxo Filmi Girl
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