Looking over stars in Hindi cinema, not prudent thought!

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Kolkata: Is the age-old star system in the Hindi film industry staring down the barrel? Or in other words, are we turning our backs on stardom in our pursuit of ideas or content with meat? Over the last few years, thanks to the emergence of actors like Irrfan Khan, Ayushmann Khurrana, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and the multi-talented Rajkummar Rao and the occasional failures of magnum opuses, opulence seems to have faced a jolt and small films with stories that strike a chord with the audiences have stirred up interests of the film goers. But in an industry that runs on crores, is it pragmatic enough to shun stardom?

To get things in perspective, it’s in the negative. Co-existence is the need of the hour and a Mardaani 2 can be conceived only if the production house has a War. The Hrithik Roshan-Tiger Shroff starrer raked in crores at the box office and for the producers Yash Raj Films, it only accentuates its strive towards experimenting.

Similarly, a Salman Khan can launch newcomers under the aegis of his banner if he has a couple of blockbusters to his credit. Aamir and Shah Rukh too can promote talent from the scratch, if they have bucks to back them. That’s reality!

For a film industry to sustain, the numbers are imperative. And we cannot ride piggyback on small and medium-budget films – we need potboilers with superstars that can ensure initials. In 2019, Akshay Kumar has had a dream run with Mission Mangal and Housefull 4. Can we state with utmost conviction that the movies hit it right at the ticket corners only because of the storylines? No, to be precise! A Akshay Kumar matters, so do the likes of Salman, Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan, Hrithik, Ranveer Singh, Ranbir Kapoor and Ajay Devgn. At the end of the day, it is all about packaging with the appropriate ingredients. Versatility triumphs and a superstar like Hrithik can churn out two different films like Super 30 and War. Beat that!

Looking back, every film industry has banked on the star system. In Bollywood, it was matinee idols who ruled the roost before the advent of parallel cinema in the mid-‘70s that introduced actors like Om Puri, Naseeruddin Shah and others who catered to a niche circuit. But the provocations of the glamour world were alluring and Puri and Shah too forayed into the mainstream genre. However, their rise was no impediment for commercially-viable actors like Amitabh Bachchan, Rishi Kapoor, Dharmendra, Mithun Chakraborty and others who had their committed and unwavering fan base.

The coveted Rs 300-crore club has Ranveer, Ranbir, Hrithik, Salman and Aamir in it. And add to it, the newest star on the block Tiger whose high-octane action sequences are soaring the temperature. A dull year for the Khans as they had in 2018 spells crisis for the film industry.

An SRK, dilly-dallying on his next has the viewers go berserk with impatience. Discussions and speculations on the 2020 Eid clash between Salman’s Radhe and Akshay’s Laxmmi Bomb are hitting headlines ad nauseam. What do these signify? Do we still carry on advocating the precedence of substance over stardom?

Looking back, every film industry has banked on the star system. In Bollywood, it was matinee idols who ruled the roost before the advent of parallel cinema in the mid-‘70s that introduced actors like Om Puri, Naseeruddin Shah and others who catered to a niche circuit. But the provocations of the glamour world were alluring and Puri and Shah too forayed into the mainstream genre. However, their rise was no impediment for commercially-viable actors like Amitabh Bachchan, Rishi Kapoor, Dharmendra, Mithun Chakraborty and others who had their committed and unwavering fan base.

With utmost reverence for Ayushmann and Rajkummar, it is still early days for them to be larger-than-life. Years of perseverance and tenacity have made megastars out of the Khans, Kumars and Devgns.

Even in 2000’s when the demarcation between art and masala entertainers was abridged, there was no imminent threat to stars who continued to entertain the audiences in their own imitable way.

Heterogeneity makes audiences go spoilt for choice. The success of one genre does not take a toll on another and mutual trust and admiration for each other is what opens the road to the pinnacle.

With utmost reverence for Ayushmann and Rajkummar, it is still early days for them to be larger-than-life. Years of perseverance and tenacity have made megastars out of the Khans, Kumars and Devgns.

Producers and exhibitors should refrain from falling prey to creative divergence at the expense of revenues.

The current scenario in Bollywood provides a room for a level-playing field where variety dictates terms. And when we say variety, it should not be confined to only the ‘metier’section. Does this suffice without ruffling feathers?

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