…And They Never Made It
If one were to dig out success stories from the bottom of Bollywood ocean where pedigree, relationships, family affinity are the little paper boats to sail through often the troubled waters, from the long haul would emerge only a handful of coins that emblazoned the silver screen with their presence. Look at the glittering gems, if only one explored the recent history. Of the two Shobhna Samarth daughters—Nutan and Tanuja—only the former carved a niche for herself but her son, Monish Behl eventually settled for baddie roles first and subsequently relied on television when movies with him as the hero did not work out. Of Tanuja’s two daughters—Kajol and Tanisha—again only the elder one made the grade with talent and grace, now selectively working after marriage to actor Ajay Devgun.
Ashok Kumar supported son Aroop Kumar’s attempts but without lady luck favouring him. He went off as suddenly as he had appeared in a couple of flicks. Of Raj Kapoor’s three sons—Randhir, Rishi and Rajiv—only Rishi featured among the front ranking stars (and now his son Ranbir is sending the cash registers singing) while the other two despite promising debuts got swept away by the low tide, though both Randhir daughters—Karishma and Kareena with the former trying a comeback, and the younger one amongst the biggest heroines—touched dizzy heights. Since nothing grows under a banyan tree, Dev Anand’s son Suniel wisely decided, after four disastrous attempts, to move in the shadows of his ambitious father rather than making himself the laughing stock like many of his other contemporaries. The same could be said about Manoj Kumar’s son Kunaal Goswami.
While Nargis-Sunil Dutt’s son Sanjay seems to be blessed with the cat’s nine lives, be amongst the leading lights despite limited talent, better looking ‘chocolate variety’ brother-in-law, Kumar Gaurav got swept away like dry leaves in a storm notwithstanding a phenomenal debut with father Rajendra Kumar’s maiden production, Love Story. Similar luck has been chasing Dharmendra’s younger son, Bobby Doel while elder Sunny has played a long innings on the stardom crease, yet without hanging in the gloves. Sadly even Amitabh Bachchan’s goodwill and stardom also seems to be failing despite valiant attempts in Abhisekh’s resurrection attempts. A big star of the 70s was Rajshree, daughter of veteran actor-producer-director V Shantaram who thought marriage was a safer bet than the uncertainties of show business. Sharmila Tagore’s son, Saif Ali Khan is a successful star in his own right, though sister Soha continues to work in B-grade films only.
Anil Kapoor, and not Sanjay from amongst producer Surendra Kapoor’s three sons (Boney, a producer married to actor Sridevi, is the third) could make the grade despite some well mounted films. Mala Sinha’s daughter Pratibha disappeared without a trace after just a couple of flops. Rajesh Khanna-Dimple Kapadia’s both daughters, Twinkle and Rima found matrimony a safer bet than the pursuit of screen success, particularly the elder, now married to Akshay Kumar, realising early enough that she wasn’t blessed with parental prowess. After just one film Vyjantimala’s son, Suchindra Bali learnt the bitter lesson and subsequently limited himself to managing her mother’s dance schools in Chennai. Shruti, born out of a short-lived marriage of South Indian icon Kamal Hassan and Sarika, is struggling hard to find a place on the Hindi cinema firmament.
Prem Kishen, elder of the two Prem Nath-Bina Rai sons, too learnt early enough that he did not have his parent’s talent to make the grade either as a hero or even a villain and quit stage to make successful television serials. Only one of Pradeep Kumar’s four children (three daughters and one son) tried to apply grease paint. But Beena, even during the early days, could at best essay small character role, though television serials have provided some more exposure. But it is again hardly been an innings worth remembering. Dileep Raj, son of yesterday swash-bucking hero and later day character actor Jairaj, too failed to live up to expectations despite getting two lives in Khwaja Ahmad Abbas productions. None of the two Durga Khote daughters (Ratna married to Nasserudin Shah, and Supriya to Pankaj Kapoor who fathered Shahid Kapoor from his first marriage) found the going easy. The same has been happening to Naseerudin Shah’s son, Immad.
Raj Babbar tried to launch son Arya and daughter Juhi. But, unfortunately, despite showing some talent have remained one-film wonder each, though his son from his controversial marriage with Smita Patil, Prateek is steadily climbing the ladder of success through a variety of roles. All three Shashi Kapoor progenies, sons Karan and Kunal, and daughter Sanjana opted out of the race fairly early though the girl could have carved out a place for herself if she had stayed in a while longer. Of writer Salim Khan’s three sons, Salman, Arbaaz and Sohail only the eldest could scale heights with panache. Salim’s co-author of blockbuster movies, has sometimes wondered what has made his son, Farhaan find greater acceptance, despite unconventional looks, as an actor though he had earlier excelled as a director.
Of other contemporary younger actors, Rani Mukherjee, a cousin of Kajol, is daughter of yesteryear director Ram and singer Krishna, has been a leading Bollywood actress who has reportedly cut down on her assignments because of involvement with the scion of Yash Raj Films, Aditya who calls the shots in his father’s production company. His brother Uday though talented has generally lost out because of his features. Many top ranking producers also tried to promote their kith but not always successful. Two of Shashadar Mukherjee’s, founder of Filmalaya, three sons, Joy and Deb tried their luck with the box office goddess though the former temporarily enjoyed huge success, while the third was married to Tanuja. Producer-Director Ravi Tandon’s daughter Raveena had everything going when she decided to bow ought of arc lights but is now again making a comeback bid.
Sons and daughters of several character actors tried their luck, amongst them was Jeevan’s son Kiran Kumar; Sapru’s son and daughter, Tej and Priti; Kishore Sahu’s daughter Naina; Balraj Sahni’s son Parikshat faded after an enviable debut; Hema Malini-Dharmendra’s daughter Esha continues to pursue a non-existent career; Jagdish Raj’s daughter Anita ruled the roost for a while in the 1980s.
One can go on ad nauseam expanding the list, but suffice it so the sunrise always looks better from a distance. Charmed by the success of those who made it, to quote Roopa Swaminathan’s book Star Dust: “A random survey at the Mumbai Central Railway Station on any given Sunday reveals at least ten people who have run away from places as far flung away as Haridwar and Gorakhpur to come to the land of Bollywood and pursue their artistic goals…From the thousands and thousands who have tried to make it there is but that one Mumtaz who finally did. They come with the same hope with dreams in their eyes…dreams that get shattered like their futures elsewhere.
By Suresh Kohli