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Before These Actors Became Stars...

January 25, 2022 11:06 IST

It's fairly common practice among industry kids to brush up their Bollywood know-how by assisting a well-known director.

While Amrita Singh and Saif Ali Khan's son Ibrahim is assisting Karan Johar on Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani, Sanjay Kapoor's eldest born Shanaya worked under Sharan Sharma's Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl starring cousin Jahnvi and will now make her acting debut also under Dharma Productions.

Whether it's a filmi rite of passage or just another facet of Bollywood nepotism, quite a few star kids began their journey as ADs (assistant directors).

Sukanya Verma points them out.

Ranbir Kapoor
Prem Granth, Aa Ab Laut Chalein, Black

IMAGE: Sonam Kapoor and Ranbir Kapoor with Sanjay Leela Bhansali on the sets of Saawariya. Photograph: Kind courtesy Bhansali Productions/Instagram

Ranbir's decision to take the Kapoor legacy forward resulted in studying film and theatre in New York.

Unlike his father Rishi Kapoor though, he wouldn't be launched under the RK banner although he did lend a helping hand to his dad and uncle on home productions like Prem Granth and Aa Ab Laut Chalein.

Ranbir truly learned the ropes while assisting Sanjay Leela Bhansali on Black.

Bhansali's hard taskmaster ways proved to be a great eye opener and learning lesson for which he was suitably rewarded when Bhansali launched him in the ambitiously scaled Saawariya.

The film bombed, but Ranbir had arrived.


Sonam Kapoor

IMAGE: Sonam Kapoor in Saawariya. Photograph: Kind courtesy Bhansali Productions/Instagram

Like Ranbir, another star kid began her journey under Bhansali's tutelage as assistant. Only Sonam didn't tell the film-maker she is Anil Kapoor's daughter right away.

Meanwhile, the Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam director was instantly taken in by her potential screen presence and suggested her to join films instead.

As fate would have it, she made her debut as leading lady opposite fellow AD Ranbir in Saawariya.


Arjun Kapoor
Salaam-E-Ishq, Kal Ho Naa Ho

IMAGE: A 21-year-old Arjun Kapoor with Ranbir Kapoor, Rohit Dhawan, Juno Chopra and Abhay Chopra. Photograph: Kind courtesy Arjun Kapoor/Instagram

Born to Producers Boney and Mona Kapoor, Arjun's initiation in Bollywood happened while editing trailers for his dad's Shakti: The Power.

Before his debut under Yash Raj in Ishaqzaade, he assisted Director Nikkhil Advani on Kal Ho Naa Ho and Salaam-E-Ishq.

During a Clubhouse session, the 36 year old admitted he was 'terrible' at the job in the beginning, but got better over time.

Do you know he even had a small scene with Govinda in Salaam-E-Ishq as one of his cab rides? But it got edited off in the end.


Varun Dhawan and Sidharth Malhotra
My Name is Khan

IMAGE: Sidharth Malhotra and Varun Dhawan with the My Name Is Khan team. Photograph: Kind courtesy Varun Dhawan/Twitter

Varun calls My Name is Khan the movie that changed his life.

Interestingly, Director David Dhawan's son picked Karan Johar over his dad to assist even though he would go on to work in several of David's hit remakes like Judwaa and Coolie No 1.

Unlike his Student Of The Year co-stars Varun and Alia, Sid had no filmi connections when he entered Bollywood.

He came to Mumbai for a movie audition, but ended up assisting Karan Johar on My Name is Khan.

A couple of years later, Sid made his debut before the camera in Student of the Year.


Ishaan Khatter
Udta Punjab

IMAGE: Ishaan Khatter with Alia Bhatt in Udta Punjab. Photograph: Kind courtesy Ishaan Khatter/Instagram

Shahid Kapoor's kid brother didn't receive any formal training in acting.

To learn the tricks of the trade, he assisted Abhishek Chaubey on Udta Punjab and shared tons of pictures of his stint as one.

One can see the fruits of this experience in his confident performances in roles as diverse as Beyond the Clouds, Dhadak and A Suitable Boy.


Vicky Kaushal
Gangs of Wasseypur

IMAGE: Vicky Kaushal on the sets of Gangs Of Wasseypur. Photograph: Kind courtesy Vicky Kaushal/Instagram

Action director Sham Kaushal's son always had his eyes on showbiz.

It resulted in assisting Anurag Kashyap on Gangs of Wasseypur, in which he even has a blink and miss role.

Given how mega and meticulous the two-part epic is, it could only be rewarding for everyone involved.

Vicky got his first teeny break as actor in Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana and blockbuster turn in Uri: The Surgical Strike.


Hrithik Roshan
King Uncle, Karan Arjun, Koyla

IMAGE: A young Hrithik Roshan with his maternal grandfather, J Om Prakash. Photograph: Kind courtesy Hrithik Roshan/Instagram

Hrithik started out wanting to become a director.

Back in 1998, he told, "I have a passion for acting and I have a bigger passion for direction. Probably one day, if things go all right, I will be able to direct. It's the toughest job on earth."

Though he is yet to take on the mantle of director, Duggu was only a teenager when he first assisted his actor-turned-film-maker dad Rakesh Roshan on King Uncle, followed by projects like Karan Arjun and Koyla, before taking on the hero's role in his super-hit debut Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai.


Aamir Khan
Manzil Manzil

IMAGE: Aamir Khan in his first film, Holi.

Born in a film family where his uncle Nasir Hussain helmed some of the most entertaining musicals of his time, it was only natural for Aamir to feel drawn towards the limelight.

Before making a huge splash in Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, the perfectionist dabbled on a lot of fronts, including a gig as his paternal uncle's AD on Manzil Manzil in whose Yaadon Ki Baarat a knee-high Aamir had played a younger version of his cousin Tariq.


Anil Kapoor
Ponga Pandit

IMAGE: A throwback of Anil Kapoor and Farah Khan. Photograph: Kind courtesy Anil Kapoor/Instagram

Years before daughter Sonam did her bit as AD, Anil did the same for Randhir Kapoor's Ponga Pandit, which was produced by his father Surinder Kapoor.

Unlike big brother Boney though, he shared little enthusiasm for the production side of things and wished to pursue his dreams of becoming an actor. And we all know how jhakaas that decision turned out to be.


Rishi Kapoor
Kal Aaj Aur Kal

IMAGE: Neetu Kapoor with Rishi Kapoor. Photograph: Kind courtesy Neetu Kapoor/Instagram

Kal Aaj Aur Kal is a wholehearted Kapoor affair.

Besides starring three generations of Kapoors, Prithviraj, Raj and Randhir, making both his acting and direction debut alongside future wife Babita, the film also features Rishi Kapoor (and childhood buddy Rahul Rawail) in assistant director credits.

Kal Aaj Aur Kal tanked, but Rishi's adult debut Bobby did a valiant job of lifting the RK banner's box office fortunes.