Cinema In Hindi or Hollywood films, inspired casting and perfect pairing can turn out hits. V. Gangadhar

What makes star pairs click? Why did the famous producer-director, Alfred Hitchcock, cast a young Grace Kelly with Hollywood's senior stars, Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant? What made director William Wyler persuade established star, Gregory Peck, to co-star with the inexperienced Audrey Hepburn in ‘Roman Holiday,' which turned out to be a classic?

Can one forget the most famous couple, Richard Burton and the beautiful Elizabeth Taylor? Although Burton was the better actor, his pairing with Taylor produced hits such as ‘Taming of the Shrew' and ‘Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf.' These are cases of inspired casting. Right actor for the right role!

If there was chemistry between the leading pair, the screen sizzled. Rather than trying to outdo each other, they worked to bring out the best.

Some directors believed that performances became elevated and were realistic if the hero and the heroine were in love in real life and an example was the famous lovers of the Hindi screen, Nargis and Raj Kapoor. Cinema in their days did not show physical intimacy, but their eyes conveyed so much more. In the later RK films, Raj was paired with Padmini and Vyjayantimala. The films were hits but the chemistry was missing.

Dilip Kumar had this chemistry with a number of heroines such as Kamini Kaushal, Vyjayantimala, Madhubala and to a lesser extent, Waheeda Rehman. By the time ‘Mughul-e-Azam' was completed, the Dilip-Madhubala romance had cooled off.

But on screen, they still managed to enact some of the most sizzling love scenes. It was a mark of their professionalism.

Comic duo

Perfect pairing was not reserved only for the lead players. It could happen with comic stars too. In his heyday, comedian Mehmood jelled with both Shubha Khote and Aruna Irani with whom he was, reportedly, involved romantically. Their comic-cum-love scenes clicked in such a big way that they acted in dozens of films, which became hits. In Tamil cinema, for decades, it was difficult to imagine N. S. Krishnan without T. A. Madhuram who became as important as the major stars.

Sometimes, acting skills rather than sex appeal or good looks created a star pair. This generally worked for actors who were not cut out for glamour roles. A good script, an intelligent director - even with limited funds, such a pair could turn the film into a hit. One such screen couple was Farooque Shaikh and Deepti Naval. They captured hearts with light romantic comedies such as ‘Chashme Buddoor.'

During the 1980s, they represented intelligent and light comedies (‘Katha', ‘Saath Saath', ‘Ek Baar Chale Aao' and ‘Rang Birangi'), which appealed to and drew the huge number of family units to the theatres.

During the 1970s, Sheikh and Naval were TV personalities who were brought together by director Sai Paranjpaye in ‘Chashme Buddoor'. The film had a youthful, realistic, middle class charm but it also had enough commercial ingredients to click at the box office.

He was the job seeker and she was a detergent (‘Chamko') salesgirl. They met, had normal dates, travelled by scooter and shared ‘Tooti Frooti' at New Delhi's restaurants and parks. This was how young couples courted in those days and with audiences identifying themselves with all the film's characters, ‘Chashme Buddoor' was a big hit. After that every producer wanted to make a ‘Chashme Buddoor' with the same pair. But they refused to be typecast and accepted parts in different kinds of comedies such as ‘Katha' and ‘Kissi na Kahena,' directed by the late Hrishikesh Mukherjee. The pair then drifted apart and at that time the focus of Hindi cinema also changed. Even the roles offered did not interest them.

Farooque and Deepti, who enjoyed each other's company and appreciated their respective talent, had no regrets about not reaching the top in terms of money and fame. He did theatre, and both of them had interesting TV assignments. But Farooque at 63 and Deepti at 54, after nearly 27 years of screen separation, will now be seen in a couple of movies and are excited about it. They have interesting roles in Hema Malini's home production, ‘Tell me, O Khuda,' starring Esha Deol. Hema Malini was keen to rekindle the nostalgia of the Shaikh-Naval combination. The pair will also be playing the lead in producer Avinash Singh's, ‘Listen, Amaya,' which has a 2012 release date. Once again, cinema-goers will get to watch these two talented actors.