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Actor v/s Superstar

Friday, July 29, 2016
By Deepa Gahlot

There was a mini tsunami a few days ago when Naseeruddin Shah criticized Rajesh Khanna for which he subsequently apologized

First of all, one man’s opinion is not the gospel, and there is no need for anyone to get all hot under the collar, there is always room for discussion if the matter at hand merits it.

As usual the trolls missed the wood for the trees, some of what Shah said was right. He is quoted as having said, “Nothing has changed in Bollywood. It is the same as it was 50 years ago. The photography and editing is better but the subjects are as puerile as they were in the 70’s. In fact, it was the 70’s when mediocrity came in Hindi films. That’s when the actor called Rajesh Khanna joined the industry. For all his success, I think Mr Khanna was a very limited actor. In fact, he was a poor actor. Intellectually, he wasn’t the most alert person I have ever met. His taste ruled the industry.”

Shah is partially correct, mediocrity did come into Hindi cinema in the Seventies, but Rajesh Khanna had little to do with it; if at all a star changed the course of Bollywood, it was Amitabh Bachchan. Ultimately, a star may sign or even initiate a certain kind of film, but producers and directors ought to be blamed for the poor quality of the films they make. If they want to work only with a star, then they limit themselves to the kind of films that star is capable of.  Very few action films were made with Rajesh Khanna and hardly any romantic films with Amitabh Bachchan.

And while these two were churning out some good, some bad and some mediocre films, Naseeruddin Shah was making a mark in the parallel cinema movement, which also he dissed later for being too self-indulgent.

It has been seen down the ages that stardom is not necessarily linked to acting talent. Some of Bollywood’s most popular stars—Dev Anand, Dharmendra, Asha Parekh, Jeetendra, Hema Malini, Zeenat Aman —were never praised for their acting. That hardly came in the way of their rise.  Of the current lot Salman Khan, Akshay Kumar, John Abraham, Katrina Kaif are major stars without great acting chops, but whatever is given to them, they deliver the goods.

And the best of them have done mediocre or poor films—Shah would not like to be reminded of Mujhe Meri Biwi Se Bachao or Zulm Ko Jala Doonga!

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