The `K' factor always predominant
If the Kumars, Kapoors and the Khannas once ruled Bollywood, now it is the turn of the Khans.
THINKING STAR: Aamir Khan
It is not just Balaji films and Ekta Kapoor who are bitten by the `K' bug. Even Bollywood has the `K' obsession, its male bastions being firmly under the `K' influence. The Kumars (Dilip, Ashok, Kishore, Rajendra and Pradeep) were followed by the Kapoors (Raj, Shammi, Shashi, Rishi and Anil), and the Khannas (Rajesh, Vinod, Mukesh, Akshaye).
The `K' factor continues to grow and since the late 1980s, the three Khans, Shah Rukh, Aamir and Salman, rule the roost. Between them, they have starred in about 150 films which have seen an overall investment of several crores of rupees and have revitalised the industry. They have figured in mega hits and become cult figures. The Khans not only flex their muscular torsos but also allow their faces to be used for selling various products, from soft drinks to imported cars.
STORMY: Salman Khan
They have figured in scandals, filled up pages in magazines on film gossip, given sleepless nights to nubile girls and performed stage shows all over the world.
The Bollywood Khans, all of whom have turned 40, look firmly set to carry on for several more years.
TRAGIC HERO PAR EXCELLENCE: Dilip Kumar
Mind you, the Khans did not have it easy and fought their way to the top. Shah Rukh did not have any film background. With an NSD background and some experience on the Delhi stage, he was noticed in two TV serials, Fauji and Circus, before entering Bollywood. Salman, son of screenplay writer Salim Khan, after a lacklustre debut in Biwi Ho Tho Aisa was so keen for the lead role in Rajshri Films' Mein Ne Pyar Kiya that he volunteered to shave his head when the director said he did not like Salman's hairstyle. The role was his, the film was a hit and it launched Salman.
Aamir, a nephew of well-known filmmaker Nasir Hussain, was a child star and after working as an assistant director, made his debut in the 1984 film, Holi, and achieved stardom four years later with Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak.
A WINNING VOICE : Rajkumar
Aamir Khan prefers not to be in the public eye, and so avoids the media. He is the thinking man's actor, particular about research and the scope of his role. Lagaan took a long time to make, but fulfilled all our expectations and we expect the same from The Rising, based on the life of freedom fighter Mangal Pandey. He is a natural, mature actor proving his worth in films like Sarfarosh, Ghulam, Raja Hindustani, Rangeela, Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander and Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahin. Intensity is the key word with Aamir. Even while playing the `tapori' in Rangeela, Aamir brings out this quality as he watches his girl friend getting sucked into the glamour and false glitter of the film world. Perhaps, that is why Aamir has chosen to be selective in his roles.
Law unto himself
Some time ago, I watched Salman Khan driving his motorbike along the sea front on Mumbai's Carter Road. He drove without a helmet, which was against traffic regulations. That is `Sallu' for you. The `Brat' has also had brushes with the law.
It is hard to believe that the stormy Salman Khan has made nearly 60 films and has obliged producers with special appearances in key films like Kuch Kuch Hota Hain. This Khan has a flair for comedy. And we wish he had been more careful in his choice of roles because the moment he realises that the scripts are duds, he seems to lose interest in them and this is reflected in his performances. But look at him act with zest in the blockbuster, Hum Aap Ke Hain Kaun, the emotionally charged Chori Chori Chupke Chupke or in comedies like Mujse Shadi Karoge, Hello Brother and Chal Mere Bhai and you know there is huge talent waiting to be explored.
And what of Shah Rukh? The most disciplined and professional actor of the three, he is the most visible hero and the most sought after by the big banners. Yet, there is the feeling that he has allowed himself to be typecast and has become a victim of mannerisms.
HIGHLY PROFESSIONAL: Shah Rukh Khan
Shah Rukh's performances have become predictable and in the process, he has allowed the limelight to be stolen by his co-stars, like Preity Zinta in Veer Zaara, Kajol and Rani in Kuch Kuch Hota Hain and Madhuri and Karisma in Dil To Pagal Hain.
The Shah Rukh of the early 1990s showed more guts when he essayed negative roles in films like Baazigar, Darr and Anjaam. Then he began to churn out films, five or six a year, and the strain shows.
KING OF ROMANCE: Rajesh Khanna
His stage shows, dancing at society weddings, commercials and add to this a bad back, the result could be a speedy burning-out. Although there are glimpses of the engaging Rahul or Raj of Shah Rukh's early films in Swades, he needs to do an Aamir and return to films invigorated.
There is another talented Khan waiting in the wings ... Saif Ali Khan. With that superb performance in Hum Tum one can say that he has arrived. May their tribe increase.
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