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5 Bollywood outsiders who made it BIG

Last updated on: April 15, 2021 16:11 IST
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Five outsiders with zero connections in the film industry and no money made their mark, lists Subhash K Jha.

Is Bollywood really a den of nepotism?

If we look at the history of Hindi cinema, the star kid syndrome is relatively recent. It started when Raj Kapoor's son Rishi made his debut with Bobby.

Prior to that, all the major stars -- from Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand, Rajendra Kumar, Jeetendra, Dharmendra, Rajesh Khanna to Amitabh Bachchan -- were outsiders.

Thereafter, in the 1980s, star kid after star kid was launched with much fanfare.

And yet, there are five outsiders with zero connections in the film industry and no money (except for Ranveer Singh, who never had to worry about his meals) who made their mark despite nepotism ruling the roost.


Mithun Chakraborty in and as Disco Dancer

IMAGE: Mithun Chakraborty in and as Disco Dancer.

1. Mithun Chakraborty

With his bronze skin and sinewy personality, Mithun was the last man expected to become a star at a time when the second generation from within the Mumbai film industry had begun to take over.

Mithunda came with no recommendations and signed Mrinal Sen's offbeat Mrigaya, which won him the National Award for Best Actor.

His dancing skills -- he used to shake a leg at weddings to earn his meals -- helped him break into commercial cinema.

He soon became Bollywood's first male dancing star and the king of B-grade musicals.

Composer Bappi Lahiri and director B Subhash were Mithunda's closest allies in his plan to become the superstar of the masses.

Husn hai Suhana, Coolie No 1

IMAGE: Husn hai suhana, Govinda serenades Karisma Kapoor in Coolie No 1.

2. Govinda

The era of star kids was rampant when a boy from a chawl decided to become a star.

Govinda had no connections and no contacts, but he grabbed Producer Pahlaj Nihalani's attention with his dancing skills.

Nihalani had started shooting for Ilzaam with his best friend Shatrughan Sinha and Mithun Chakraborty, when Mithunda suddenly opted out.

The film-maker signed on Govinda. And Bollywood's second dancing star was born.

Akshay Kumar in Khakee

IMAGE: Akshay Kumar was appreciated for his performance in Khakee.

3. Akshay Kumar

When Akshay Kumar began searching for a foothold in Bollywood, star kids like Sunny Deol and Sanjay Dutt were ruling the roost.

Akshay had no connections in the film industry; his struggle was that of an archetypal non-insider.

He went from door to door trying, to get producers's attention. They laughed at him. They told him to try his hand at some other profession. They insulted him.

But Akshay held on. Until he caught the attention of Producer-director Pramod Chakravarty, a former movie mogul whose his career was on the downside.

He signed Akshay opposite privileged star daughter Karisma Kapoor in Deedar.

Akshay admitted he knew nothing about acting. He learnt on the job.

Not a single major director came forward to sign him. He dug out his stardom from the films that star sons didn't want to work in.

Shah Rukh Khan dances to Bole chudiyan in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham...

IMAGE: Shah Rukh Khan dances to Bole chudiyan in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham.

4. Shah Rukh Khan

A boy from Delhi followed the girl he loved to Mumbai and then decided he had to become an actor.

The story of Shah Rukh's stardom can make a terrific film.

From Vivek Vaswani who gave him a home, to Hema Malini who gave him his first role (in Dil Aashna Hai), Shah Rukh represents the triumph of the outsider.

While the other two (or three if you want to include Saif) Khan superstars are industry insiders, Shah Rukh became the biggest star of the post-Bachchan era without knowing a single person in the film industry when he began his career.

IMAGE: Netflix snapped up Kartik Aaryan's Dhamaka for Rs 1.35 billion, the highest fee paid for a feature film by an OTT platform. Photograph: Kind courtesy Kartik Aaryan/Instagram

5. Kartik Aaryan

When he came to Mumbai from his hometown Gwalior, Kartik knew absolutely no one in the Hindi film industry.

Initially he stayed in a flat in Andheri with 12 other dreamers, hoping to make it big just like him.

Out of the thousands who pour into Mumbai, their eyes focused on Bollywood's glitter and glamour, only one or at the most two touch stardom every five years.

Kartik is one of them.

Today, though he is one of the 10 most saleable star-actors in Hindi cinema, he has not forgotten his days of struggle when he would wait for hours to for a producer only to be turned away without a meeting at the end of the day.

Kartik's stardom at a time when star kids are again crowding the marquee provides hope for everyone who wants to make it in Bollywood.

If Kartik can create a Dhamaka, so can others with no filmi legacies.

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