Goodwill hunting for a hit

Show stealers Hrithik with Isha Sharvani in ‘Luck by Chance’; Shah Rukh with Kareena and Deepika in ‘Billu.

Show stealers Hrithik with Isha Sharvani in ‘Luck by Chance’; Shah Rukh with Kareena and Deepika in ‘Billu.  


It’s raining cameos as film-makers rope in A-list stars for guest appearances and the BO is happy. Will it work for ‘Billu’ too?

B illu (the Barber had to be dropped after a section of hairdressers cried foul ), according to SRK, is Irrfan’s film. For most of us who’ve been channel surfing or checking videos on You Tube, Billu is more about Shah Rukh and Kareena’s Marjani Marjani and Deepika Padukone’s Love Mera Hit than about the protagonists Irrfan Khan and Lara Dutta. Oh yes, there’s Priyanka Chopra pitching in for another song.

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A fortnight ago, Zoya Akhtar’s quirky take on filmdom, Luck By Chance, opened to a warm response for its taut screenplay, witty dialogues and matter-of-fact portrayals. Complementing Farhan and Konkana were a bunch of A-list actors with their cameo acts.

Hrithik Roshan headed the tribe with a crisp role of an insecure young superstar and was accompanied by Karan Johar, Kareena, Rani Mukherjee, Shah Rukh and Aamir Khan among others. We’ve seen a deluge of cameos earlier, haven’t we?

A host of them did the trick for Om Shanti Om and Preity, Kajol, Lara and Bipasha pitched in for Phir Milenge Chalte Chalte in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi.

“Some actors, like Hrithik, are people that me and Farhan grew up with. Being good friends they graciously accepted to feature in guest roles,” says Zoya. Luck By Chance and OSO capitalised on the scripts that were set in the circus called film industry, and this made the cameos look all too natural. Akshay Kumar did his bit with the ‘Khiladi returns’ act and Amitabh and Abhishek Bachchan, and even Shabana Azmi perked up the make-believe awards function in OSO. All that Farah Khan and Shah Rukh had to do was count on their goodwill and stars stepped in gladly. Of course, they didn’t charge for guest roles. Shilpa Shetty did the number Shut up and Bounce in Dostana free of charge for buddy Karan Johar. Same was the case with Hrithik and Co in Luck by Chance and real-time models who sashayed down the ramp in Madhur Bhandarkar’s Fashion.

“My film was about the fashion industry and models like Alicia Raut or Diandra didn’t look out of place. Prahlad Kakkar agreed to play himself. All of them were value additions to the film,” defends Madhur Bhandarkar. Do high-profile cameos help draw the crowds? “I don’t know what works and what doesn’t,” quips Zoya, and adds, “Farhan’s growth in the industry is believable when we show him rubbing shoulders with Kareena and Karan Johar at a party. Rani too comes in a passing shot and she joked about it saying I reduced her to a junior artiste. Similarly, when you see the starlet (Konkana) acting with Aamir, you know she’s arrived.”

A few seasons ago, special appearances meant leading heroines in item numbers or heros in a blink-and-you-miss appearance. John Abraham turned DJ setting the tempo for Where’s the Party Tonight? in Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna and Kajol and Rani added the ‘luck’ factor for all Karan Johar films.

Hollywood presence

Now, producer Sajid Nadiadwala has Sylvester Stallone share the frame with Kareena for Kambhakkht Ishq. Amitabh Bachchan will feature as Abhishek’s grandfather in Dilli 6. Abhishek himself was once a cameo specialist after Rakht (the One love song earned him the ‘item boy’ tag), Hum Tum, Salaam Namaste, Lage Raho Munnabhai and a few BO duds.

Trade analyst Komal Nahta feels, “Cameos cannot save a bad script. Many films haven’t worked despite high-profile cameos. OSO, Fashion and Luck by Chance used cameos cleverly. In Billu, SRK is an actor and it’s fitting to show him acting with top heroines.”

Will it spell magic again?

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