Nepotism has become such a venomous word for the industry especially to the media and outsiders. But one rightly can ask, if a parent, who has established themselves in an industry which granted them success and respect would want their offspring one chance within the film industry. Similarly, a businessman who would hand down his empire to his family, ideally the same case applies but its matter of chances and of course the lasting talent. Just because they bare the same genes would not rightly say they bare the same attributes, just like Guru Dutt had said “The public is the enforcer, judge and executioner of your career in the film industry. They decide it all”
This coming Friday, the son of veteran actor Sunny Deol, Karan Deol makes his debut in Vijayta Film’s Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas, the public will run towards the cinemas of course to see if the boy is here to stay or not with obvious comparisons to his father. But before this star kid being launched, lets take a look to the past star launch vehicles that were either successful or unsuccessful over the years.
In the year 1970, Raj Kapoor was a broken man. His ambitious dream project Mera Naam Joker had released and bombed at the box office in which Raj Kapoor had mortgaged all his assets. Mera Naam Joker was way too expensive of a feature to recover its money and broken Raj Kapoor not losing hope one night picked up an Archie comic from his middle son, Rishi Kapoor’s room and decided his next feature would be a quick young romantic film launching an entire team and two newcomers. Rishi Kapoor and Dimple Kapadia debuted which became a storm at the box office. Raj Kapoor eventually had recovered from his losses; Rishi and Dimple became the country’s heart-throbs and the film became one the most successful films for a debut couple.
For many who have already seen Sanju, will know already a lot about the film. Launched by Senior Dutt, known in the industry as Dutt Saab was a strict father and director to Sanjay Dutt while making Rocky. Even though battling with drugs and his mother’s illness, many critics had leaped at the film saying it was success because of sympathy, the film of course had a weak lead cast and poor screenplay but one could also say that Rocky connected to the youngsters at the time plus it was out of the norm than the usual revenge dramas at the time. Sanjay Dutt even though going through his phase still returned to Hindi cinema becoming a better actor than he was in Rocky.
Dharmendra even though still being a lead hero and at fruitful stance of his career, Papa Deol launched his eldest son Sunny when he was in his early twenties. Rahul Rawail, Raj Kapoor’s assistant had helmed being the director which formed a relationship in the coming years with Sunny. The film was not just successful for the Deol’s debut but the music score had played a huge role, ‘Jab Hum Jawan Honge’ still being a popular track amongst listeners today was rage and scoring card for the film. Sunny however was little slacked off because of the comparisons made to his father but thanks to Rawail, who gave Sunny’s first recognition as an actor in 1985 with Arjun, helped him break out of the mould.
Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988)
Nasir Hussian was not exactly too keen on launching his nephew Aamir Khan when he was to helm the direction of QSQT, he was actually going to approach Sunny Deol or Rajiv Kapoor who he had earlier worked in Zabardast, which Aamir was an Assistant Director his uncle. Nasir was hospitalised due to his health and gave the project to his son, Mansoor Khan, to helm the project. Mansoor had updated the father’s script and was convinced that his cousin, Aamir is capable enough to make his debut with this project. Aamir not only acted but even helped with production and remained around for hours for the direction team to be ready, even on release Aamir was a promotional head for his own film! But as we can see, it was all destined making Aamir a star overnight.
Maine Pyar Kiya (1989)
Speaking about destiny, the original lead actors who were considered for the film were Armaan Kohli, Sanjay Kapoor, Vindu Dara Singh, Faraaz Khan, Deepak Tijori, Deepak Malhotra, Kunal Goswami, Piyush Mishra, Deep Raja Rana (Phew!). Eventually a young mode and writer Salim Khan’s son was selected at the last moment because Vindu Dara Singh had not been coming on to the sets and the rest was of course history. Associates of the Barjatya shared how they felt Salman was bad choice for the film and they should have him replaced but Sooraj Barjatya stuck to his guns and proved everyone wrong when he gave India one of the biggest superstars. The film was always remembered for its reopening theatres across the country which took a hit because of the VHS phase.
Phool Aur Kaante (1991)
Ajay Devgan isn’t exactly a star child, but like Aamir Khan and Salman Khan he was the son of a very prominent individual from the film industry – Veeru Devgan. Veeru Devgan had come to Bombay from Punjab in hopes of becoming an actor, those dreams were fulfilled in the form of his son. Ajay before becoming an overnight star, was a slight popular rowdy Juhu boy where his gang would hang every evening on N.S Road 10, until the taskmaster father saw his charm in him and recommended him to debutant director Kuku Kohli. Phool Aur Kaante on release faced completion with Ramesh Sippy’s Akalya and Yash Chopra’s Lamhe on the same day, but the winner was the guy who rode two bikes simultaneously – Devgan became an overnight superstar.
The younger Deol that was launched by Papa Deol, a film that took a while in the making after the maestro Shekhar Kapoor at the last moment had put up hands and left the project. Originally, the film was to launch Karishma Kapoor but after she lost patience with Shekhar Kapoorand walked out and entered Rajesh Khanna and Dimple Kapadia’s daughter Twinkle Khanna. Rajkumar Santoshi being the blue-eyed boy for Dharmendra at the time, helmed the project while finishing the over-delayed Ghatak for Sunny. Not exactly Santoshi’s best work, but the film was popular for its music and Bobby becoming a rage amongst the youth for his western look and hairstyle.
Kaho Na Pyaar Hai (2000)
Rakesh Roshan not exactly going through the best phase of his career with the loss of Koyla and his Karobaar which had stuck for several years – he decided to launch his son. Hrithik himself not exactly being too confident with his looks as apparently he was often called ‘lanky’ and ‘geeky’ in his college days, was then groomed by Salman who he bonded with on the sets of Karan Arjun. Ironically, the same Hrithik became an overnight star and became a rage amongst the girls all over the country. The KNPH mania made Hrithik such a craze where he was being compared to stars like Shahrukh and Salman after his debut film – he did become a threat to his contemporaries after bagging the Best Debutant and Best Actor award in the same year – a first and only time to happen for any newcomer.
Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na…(2009)
Only an Aamir Khan can pull off something like this. A simple romantic film made on a shoestring budget with such high content that goes on to make four times the budget. Aamir launched his nephew Imran Khan and Smita Patil’s son Pretik Babbar in this college/young story about confused relationships. The film went on to become one the biggest hits of the year – putting both actors on the map. Though both actors had their fair share of success post the release – sadly both of them have been missing recently. Either because of the lack of work or personal reasons.
Student of the Year (2012)
Karan Johar post making his typical popcorn cinema had gone into a trance of attempting to put himself in the niche crowd with films like Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna and My Name is Khan, Johar realised as a director he should return to what is he is good at – commercial Hindi cinema. SOTY launched the son of David Dhawan, daughter of Mahesh Bhatt and well….one outsider was kind of required. The success proved that Johar still knew how to entertain but at the same time brought three newcomers to show to the world they are here to stay. The three have become assets to Dharma Productions, Varun Dhawan now being one of the top lead actors and Alia Bhatt being one of the saleable actress of now. Guess Johar knew and went along with his instincts.
The Unsucessful ones
Kunal Goswami, the son of Manoj Kumar was launched and even relaunched by his father on a few occasions. Kalakaar being the his official debut and not even accepted on screen as full grown adult by many. He made his debut with a newly-Sridevi who at the time was testing waters in the Bombay sector, sadly Kalakaar failed without a trace. Years later, after the horrific Clerk, Manoj Kumar relaunched the grown ‘adult’ version of Kunal in Jai Hind. Manoj Kumar’s final jingoistic hammy ensemble cast failure which eventually took Kunal off the map completely. Also – Ranbir Kapoor stated Jai Hind is his least favourite film which his father had starred in – goes without saying.
Anand Hi Anand (1984)
Very many are not aware of Suniel Anand, well hes to be the son of legend Dev Anand who did not really stick around as an actor for very long. In the same year as the craze of Betaab, Dev Anand launched his son Suniel in which he produced and directed himself. The film didn’t work and well, people did not accept Suniel as an actor. After several other attempts, Dev Anand attempted to relaunch him which didn’t word and the young Anand began to handle Senior Anand’s work at Navketan (Dev Anand’s production house) in production when he saw things as an actor were not working out. The acting bug bite Suniel again when he left the country to learn martial arts and returned to make Master which he directed himself about martial arts. The film failed and Suniel again, left the country.
The film was the grand launch of Kajol – but also launched Kamal Sadanah. People who don’t know Kamal Sadanah, he is the son of the yesteryear established filmmaker Brij who on a drunken night had shot down his entire family but Kamal being the only survivor from the attack. Sadanah being brought in the industry found sympathy from and was known as the industry’s Bruce Wayne. Similarly, Rahul Rawail had casted him after throwing the obnoxious Saif Ali Khan from the film, he casted Sadanah straight away. Thought the film had melodious music it failed to gather an audience and of course Kajol became Kajol, Sadanah later had found his path.
The odd combination of Yash Chopra and Firoz Nadiadwala came together to make this odd film about the fight of traditions between two families – the rich and the poor but two children having the same father. After being thrown out of Bekhudi, Saif Ali Khan debuted with Parampara in this ensemble cast which he shared the screen with Aamir Khan – had a lot of issues in production since the beginning. Anil Kapoor’s rejection, Ashwini Bhave’s fight, Vinod Khanna’s reshoots and of course Aamir not exactly being happy with the way his role shaped out. Being anticipated, it shocked the industry when the collapsed at the box office leading to Saif going to a temporary depression. His friends of the industry helped him during the time which eventually turned tables.
Director duo Abbas – Mustan wanted to launch Arbaaz Khan earlier in Khiladi and then in Baazigar, but the younger Khan felt he wasn’t just ready. Arbaaz before becoming an actor was an assistant to the Director duo as well other such as Mahesh Bhatt, Raj Sippy etc. When the time was right, Arbaaz gave a fine performance as the menacing obsessive husband in his debut film winning praises for such offbeat debut but Daraar went wrong as film on many levels. For starters, the film was the third remake of Sleeping With The Enemy (1991) after Yaarana (1995) and Agni Sakshi (1996) which all released close together. Rishi Kapoor was repeating his act from Yaarana and eventually it just made the public pretty sick of the repeated story.
Himalay Putra (1997)
Akshaye Khanna in his teen days was known as the badboy of Bandra, if he stepped onto a court or field – the people would clear it knowing he had arrived. Gaining such a reputation and being such a confident boy, he always knew that acting was his forte. At a mere age of 18, he told his dad he wanted to become an actor in which senior Khanna being confident fulfilled his youngest son’s wish by launching him first. Other filmmakers had signed Junior Khanna quite quickly after some had saw the rushes of Himalay Putra but Vinod Khanna had strict rules that Himalay Putra had to release first. The film released and bombed being criticised as ‘rushed star kid launch’ which suffered to a weak plot and Vinod Khanna and Hema Malini had big portion focusing just on them. It wasn’t gloom for Akshaye, in the same year he had Border and Mohabbat in which he matched his act with seniors like Sunny Deol, Madhuri Dixit, Sunil Shetty, Jackie Shroff etc. Akshaye walked away that year with the Best Debutant and Best Supporting Actor.
Prem Aggan (1998)
Feroz Khan was set to make a film with his friend’s son, Akshaye Khanna post his debut until his own son shared his desire to act. Khan had scrapped the idea and decided to launch his son with Prem Aggan. Khan’s films are usually dosed with three elements – drugs, violence and sex tried avoid the latter and concentrated on sex and rich and poor love story. The film bombed so badly that it took Khan years to recover from its financial loss. Khan defended the film saying people did not accept the film as they could expect a romantic film from the brand ‘Feroz Khan’ – we could also argue that the film was pretty damn bad and is still remembered for its unintentional comic dialogues and hammy performances.
One of the biggest downfalls of Saawariya, was the ego behind the film. The ego war between Bhansali and Shahrukh/Farah Khan did not go down with good taste with many with both spatting bad about each other in this game of one-man-up-ship. Bhansali made a grand dream-like romance set in a world which no one from India could relate to, its scale was set very high for newcomer launch vehicle that neither the Hollywood studio backing could recover from. Even though Bhansali introduced industry his protégé – Ranbir Kapoor, later was hesitate to work with Bhansali after being apprehensive about his mounting. Either way, Bhansali recovered from this disaster but what it take way of the style of mounting Bhansali followed which he not willing to go back to.
Rakyesh Omprakash Mehra when giving a Bhaag Milkha Bhaag was very keen on making a Mirza – Sahiban with Sonam Kapoor’s brother Harshvardhan Kapoor. After persuasion, he got him on board with a script written by the maestro Gulzar who was returning to scripting after 11 years. The film bombed, confusing the audience between the two timelines of the past and present with lacklustre performances that even Gulzar’s script could not save this dud. To place the icing on the cake, Harshvardhan attacked the film saying it ‘wasn’t nothing special’ and the performance were ‘very ordinary’.