Aamir Khan: the Lone Ranger

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You must talk to some people who dislike me,” remarks Aamir Khan suddenly. It is difficult to gauge whether the actor is serious or joking, as he sips masala chai and munches on an unbuttered crisp, brown toast. Khan is sitting in his hotel cafe overlooking Pondicherry’s beach front promenade. The actor is in the French Quarter of this picturesque southern state, shooting for Reema Katgi’s yet-to-be titled movie. Playing a cop in the movie, Khan is on a special diet, and so the meagre meal.

A daunting task as it may seem, there maybe people who dislike Khan, except that there are few who would dare to admit it. In the film industry, nothing sells like success. And over the last decade, Khan has kept a firm Midas touch on the box-office, both as an actor and producer (see graphic). It’s a fact Khan knows well, but what differentiates him from the others is that the man with the golden touch is driven not by commerce alone and has ensured over the years that the film is always the star. His cousin and childhood friend, Nuzhat Khan (Imran Khan’s mother) says, “I don’t see Aamir as having any noble purpose of enriching or contributing to cinema as his conscious goal, but that is exactly what he is doing. Perhaps, this is his greatest contribution – he makes everyone associated with him want to do a much better job, and he supports them with all his heart.” This “support” is what Ashutosh Gowariker acknowledges when he says that Aamir “was like a rock standing behind me and gave me a second lease of life”, referring to Khan as the producer and adding that Khan’s biggest contribution to any film is that he infuses it with a nobility of purpose. If things did sour with some of his other directors like Amol Gupte and Anusha Rizvi, Khan is clear that as a producer the film comes first and he has always made it clear that he will have the final word on it. It’s a risk the people working with Khan have to take.

Till the turn of the century, Khan, who turned 46 in March, had completed 15 years as an actor, but had never been tempted to break the promise he had made to himself – of never venturing into production. “I had never hidden the fact that I had no desire to become a producer,” says Khan, with the dark memories of a childhood, which saw his father producer Tahir Hussain suffer, still raw. Yet, a decade ago, Khan decided to take a step into that neverland with Lagaan, a decision so pathbreaking that for the first time in his career, Khan decided he needed the nod of approval from his parents and wife Reena (first wife). “I had already decided that if this story had to be told… only I would tell it,” says Khan firmly. And, he was glad when his producer-father’s reaction met with Khan’s expectation. “A good story,” said his father, “must be told.”

Looking back, Khan recalls his most cherished moment as producer, when both his father and uncle (also his mentor) Nasir Hussain were present at the mahurat of Lagaan , the debut film for Aamir Khan Productions Pvt Ltd (AKPL). The scale and the attention to detail Khan had given made both his family seniors very proud. Neither had attempted a film of this scale, where the logistics were nothing less than mind-boggling. “It was definitely one of the most emotional moments in AKP’s decade to have had them both present when I was setting out on my own,” says Khan, who regrets that his uncle did not see the completion of Lagaan and his aunt, Nasir Hussain’s wife, did not see his first directorial venture, Tare Zameen Par(TZP) .

The six-year gap between his first production and second (TZP) may have been surprising for those looking at AKP without Khan. Even for a boutique production house, it’s a long time. But AKP is only about one man – Khan – and those who know him are not surprised. “Growth is not always about scale and size but about growing with the times and that’s what Aamir has done best,” says UTV chairman and MD Ronnie Screwvala, who has worked with Khan on all six films of AKP in some capacity or the other. In fact, Khan says quite bluntly that if there is no film that excites him to produce it, AKP will not make a film. “If there is one motto that binds AKP, it is that we will only make films we enjoy ourselves,” says Khan. He knows it does not make business sense, but by his logic if it was only about money, he can and is making more than enough as an actor. He doesn’t need to produce films. What he knows firmly is that there will never be any scaling up. It will always be one film at a time only for Khan and AKP. The last two years, according to the actor-producer, were an aberration.

“I have consciously decided never again. Since I want to be involved in all aspects, I cannot be everywhere, so Delhi Belly got delayed because I was involved with Dhobhi Ghat, while Kiran had to wait because I was involved with Peepli Live. So, henceforth, only one film at a time at AKP,” says Khan emphatically. As always, against the flow, when every actorturned-producer is scaling up and adding verticals to their business, putting their production company name on every film, Khan chooses to go even more selective. A decade ago, Khan had an offer from none other than stock guru Rakesh Jhunjhunwala to go public. Something he had rejected then saying he didn’t need the money, so why would he. Now, would he? No, he still does not need the money and the idea of “being answerable to anyone every quarter for what I do is scary”.

Yet, Khan is more pragmatic today and admits he has learnt never to say never. “So, if I were to, say, do a project like the Mahabharat in seven parts and each part would require a multiple hundred crore, I would have to raise that money and in such a case, maybe I would go to the public and lay out my plans of the project and how I plan to spend the money and then ask them to put their faith in me,” says Khan. So, is he planning anything like that? Mum is the word.

A decade of success will be followed by two more, believes Screwvala as also Khan’s friend and co-star Rani Mukherjee who adds that her dream would be to be directed by Khan in an AKP film. But what does Khan see as the future of AKP if scale is out? “To remain a boutique firm, like a cottage industry. Business is not our model. Ten years later also, I want to be personally involved with every aspect of a film we produce. I like the element of surprising myself like with Delhi Belly which is a googly AKP has delivered on itself. I want to continue to back scripts which are really unusual and ground breaking, while always making films we enjoy ourselves. It’s not a very complicated vision. Yes, I will never ever sell any part of my company,” says Khan.

There are some surprises in store though. Like the two scripts that are work-in-progress and being worked on by Kiran. One of them is an art house film. The other, a huge mainstream film, is being co-authored by Khan, his first attempt at writing. And he will wear the director’s cap again soon. When and for which film is another yarn to spin for another day.

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86 Responses to “Aamir Khan: the Lone Ranger”

  1. alex adams Says:

    The ONLY critic that really (and ultimately) matters is HISTORY—IMO.
    When the “dust settles down”, lots (most) of the things become irrelevant.
    Coming to think of it—Relevant to films and this blog—
    Its difficult to list the top few male actors who have had the MAXIMUM impact.
    This aims to be an ALL-ENCOMPASSING assessment taking into account EVERYTHING–just to do away with subsets and minutiae and “finer points”.
    TAking into account -reach, box office, appeal, longevity, ability, talent, influence, legacy —plainly speaking—taking EVERYTHING into account—
    Now i dont claim that everyone will agree here—but here is my take (willing to hear the assessment of others—
    1) Amitabh Bachchan–this was easy for me, must admit.and not open to discussion–period!!.
    2) Raj Kapoor–taking into account–direction, production, influence and familial legacy (and kids/grandson/grand daughter–lol)
    3) Dilip Kumar–the influence of this actor is openly acknowledged by AB
    4) Aamir Khan–again trumps the no 5, if his production and direction is taken into account
    5) Shah Rukh khan–(grudgingly)–Actually not a big fan, but cannot NOT give it to him for being a self made “phenomenon” and “over achiever”. Definitely the biggest force from Bollywood in the overseas (by a hide margin, still)
    There is a long list of actors who are notable and JUST missed, but unfortunately to keep discourse sensible, one HAS to draw a line and the rest have been kept out of this select group.
    PS–The no 4 and 5 still ahve a realistic chance of moving up the ladder, IF they reallly keep up their act since they still have time.
    There are also some narrowly missing out of this list, but dont think they will threaten this list (realisitically)
    Lets hear from others—-and Satyam……

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    • Depends on what one means by history.. over the long run very little survives in the sense of surviving in more general terms.. other than Bachchan and Raj Kapoor on your list I am not very sure of anyone.

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      • Agree. Amitabh Bachchan’s place in history is undisputed, but that is also because unlike the others on this list (except maybe Raj Kapoor), Bachchan’s place is ensured more as a timelessly valid ‘signature’. The others will have to survive history purely as the ‘self’, whereas Bachchan surpasses the ‘self’. In fact, I do believe that a Guru Dutt will actually survive history purely for similar reasons.

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        • alex adams Says:

          Agree abzee–good point about Bachchans “timeless signature”.
          Admit that Guru Dutts name came into the mix, but this list is essentailly about “lead actors”. Additional credentials as a director/ producer may add to the overall profile like aamir khans case..
          Guru Dutt was a maker/director first and his “acting” was not comparable.
          There were many others whose name comes up but arguably “just” miss out in this “definitive” list lol–due to various reasons-
          The “key” word here is “just” ……lol

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          • Oh sorry… didn’t know this was only about actors. I was thinking more along general lines.

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          • ideaunique Says:

            “3) Dilip Kumar–the influence of this actor is openly acknowledged by AB”

            i’ve never considered DK to be one of the greatest and just because he is ack. by AB – that is a very lame reason to put him up there….

            and since this discussion is “TAking into account -reach, box office, appeal, longevity, ability, talent, influence, legacy —plainly speaking—taking EVERYTHING into account—” aamir khan surpasses all of the names mentioned here even at present except raj kapoor. and he has a long way to go remember. Big B is way way ahead of DK, RK and everyone else as far as his contribution to BW is concerned as a successful actor for masses and classes as well – but RK, AK – these kind of guys are contributing to BW as an actor, producer, director, trend-changers……in fact, I am surprised that no one mentions Kishore Kumar here – his contribution was no less…..

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          • That’s not true at all Idea.. Dilip Kumar is a giant of Hindi cinema, the greatest influence for an entire generation of actors the way Bachchan has been since. He was also ‘first among equals’ (the other two of course being Dev Anand and Raj Kapoor). He was dominant for an entire decade (the 50s), was still important in the 60s and returned for some important stints in the 80s. He is a bona fide legend. Widely regarded as India’s greatest screen actor for a generation. In the South there was Sivaji, in the North Dilip Kumar and of course being tops in Bombay always meant more.

            You can’t just compare people across eras without contextualizing properly. Dilip Kumar was a huge name for a very long time. One has to really learn enough about the history and those earlier eras. I am a huge Aamir fan and I’ve never been much of a Dilip Kumar fan but Aamir isn’t what Dilip Kumar was. In terms of the box office if one wants to be absolute it’s not just Bachchan. The pure superstardom Rajesh Khanna enjoyed for some years and for whom the label was invented is unsurpassed on this score (barring Bachchan). Yes he did not have longevity but nor did those who had longevity enjoy such dizzy levels of success. Again one has to learn about what that Rajesh Khanna’s age was like.

            And yes precisely ‘everything’ has to be taken into account. It’s quite appalling to question Dilip Kumar’s stature. And again I say this as someone who’s not much of a fan.

            If I seem annoyed here it’s because quite often the history gets such short-shrift here. I have lionized Aamir for the longest time but really Aamir’s real status as a star begins in this past decade with Lagaan. There’s no history Aamir creates in any sense in the previous decade. His entire influence, his structural re-alignment and so on about which I’ve said so much is this past decade. And yes he’s going to do a lot more but he’s also not a young guy anymore. Aamir has never been the iconic sort of star in the truest sense. He’s built it all on prestige about which I have the greatest admiration. But c’mon this is Dilip Kumar we’re talking about!

            Similarly I have also felt that Aamir has been the most influential Bollywood figure this past decade and that his ultimate legacy will outstrip SRK’s but in the present he certainly hasn’t matched SRK’s iconic appeal.

            When Alex raised the history point I told him that very little survives in a historical sense. And this point you’re making is an index of this. Dilip Kumar is as important a pillar of Bombay cinematic history. To question him is to question in a Tamil context MGR and Sivaji or in a Telugu context NTR! Someone like Rajendra Kumar was massive in the 60s. Known as the Jubilee Kumar because of all his jubilee hits. I used to compare SRK to him and the SRK fans used to think I was insulting SRK. But the fact is that actually that the films of the two are very similar. Anyway whether one agrees or not one must be aware of the history to understand even the terms of the debate.

            Dharmendra has been an authentic Bombay legend. Never the top star but not many top stars were more ‘important’ than him. Again one has to contextualize things.

            An appraisal of the present cannot come at the cost of deconstructing the past. Aamir has a unique claim in the annals of Hindi cinema. I have never seen another star do it just by building the prestige model he has or channeling his stardom in that direction and really reinventing himself. But let’s not get completely carried away here. Once you suggested Aamir was ahead of even Bachchan in terms of accomplishments. I thought that was ridiculous. In other contexts people often think I’m simply defending Bachchan. NO! I am defending history and Bachchan is simply the most formidable part of Bombay film history. But I equally defend it in other contexts. Much as for all my distaste for SRK’s politics and so on I have always been insistent on his place in the present vis-a-vis others and to some degree in a historic sense. Just as there can be a an unthinking valorization of the past so too can there be an equally unthinking one of the present. Aamir would be quite shocked if heard Dilip Kumar was being referred to in this way or that he was being called greater than Dilip.

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          • AamirsFan Says:

            agree on the points satyam has made. next to Big B, its DK who still considered the most influential actor today. Even Aamir himself has said his fave actors have been Guru Dutt and DK. I think if you had a ‘mt rushmore of hindi film actors’ id put on there Raj Kapoor, DK, amitabh and guru dutt. Aamir’s acting his good but not great. i have always maintained if you want to watch a acting clinic just watch Shakti with DK and Amitabh.

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        • Guru Dutt will certainly survive as part of world cinema. And this is Raj Kapoor’s calling card too but even other wise his Chaplin-mediated self has become iconic for India.

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          • Absolutely. In fact, just today, an American DoP that I’m presently working with (he’s served as the Assistant Cameraman on Fincher’s last three films!) said that he’s only seen the Bollywood films of three people- Amitabh, Raj Kapoor and Guru Dutt. On Indian cinema, he mentioned Ray and Rathnam of course, but I was pleasantly surprised to find him mention Shaji Karun even.

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          • Btw, thanks for putting my Firaaq write-up in the Reruns section. In fact, it gave me an opportunity to read your fabulous piece on the same film, which I’d missed actually.

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  2. alex adams Says:

    Thats why the “others” are not in the “top two”!! lol

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    • alex adams Says:

      “”i’ve never considered DK to be one of the greatest “–Ideunique –u do have a reasonable point and worth discussion.
      To keep the initial premise concise and reader friendly, had not expanded on the “reasons” for why Dilip Kumar (Yusuf Khan) is on this “definitive” list.
      Also this was aimed to provide a quick and concise “snapshop” of OVERALL sweepstakes in Bollywood lead hero aimed at the foreign/ diaspora eyes as well as the “young” (postliberalisation) indian….This is also aimed at helping out a beautiful (and influential) writer/ researcher and social scientist (and a close friend)who being western is expectedly not brilliant at these intricacies from bollywood .
      The “disagreements” are actually welcome since they all add to the (meaningful) discourse . But then the “disagreement” has to be backed by valid reasonable debate to stand ground..lol
      I did not expand but now i dont need to since Satyam (and aamirsfan) has more than answered thos points v well.
      To decode anyone (for eg Dilip Kumar) now, one either has to have been an active movie seeing adult few decades ago (which most here are not) or should have patience, insight and willingness to reach beyond into another era to “understand” the contextual meaning.
      Unfortunately archival documentation is not good in bollywood (even now0–But this particular aspect is still quite accessible, provided someone has the “intentions” outlined above.
      “I have also felt that Aamir has been the most influential Bollywood figure this past decade and that his ultimate legacy will outstrip SRK’s but in the present he certainly hasn’t matched SRK’s iconic appeal. “–This single line from Satyam makes this sort of exercise even more worthwhile and valid. Also this is a “lesson” from certain unidimensional fans of various stars who just cannot see/ beyond the obvious “bias”.
      Taking the example of “oldgold” here is NOT meant to be derogatory , but to celebrate someone like her since she serves as a real life illustrative example of this phenomenon that seems to have affected more than an entire generation and ALSO needs to be documented. Infact, this has also been taken into account into SRKs “appeal” in a non-judgemental way.
      Also, if someone reads carefully, the intial passage also says things like (no 4 and 5 can still move up the ladder since they still have time)—This covers for any further “brilliance” (that either of them is capable of and is not beyond the realms of possibility)–However, to add to this, since they are in the “current”, how “history” looks at them is still an assumption(although a reasnable one(, but not a fact . Something that the no1-3 have already proven.
      Comments welcome….

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      • alex adams Says:

        “lesson” *for*
        ps–the “acknowledgement” by Amitabh Bachchan for Yusuf Khan (DK) is NOT the same as Bachchans “acknowledgements” to all and sundry around him ranging from the spot boy to every new “upstart” in bollywood !! it was a “real” one…and this is in no way, a significant reason for DK being on the list ( by common sense)
        Agree with Aamirs fan about the “acting clinic” in Shakti–
        In this elite context- “methodic”, “stylised” and “playing to the galleries”, acting, “looks”, “worthy of initiating trends” combined with inherent raw talent and application—all come into question obviously.
        By the way–“realistic acting” (which has different stalwarts–dont wish to name them here) had much lesser “responsibilities” in terms of box-office, reach and appeal.
        “Appeal” also includes the word “pan indian” because of which certain south indian greats could not make it to the list.

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  3. shaurya Says:

    rajesh khanna…?
    devanand….?

    i guess they also deserve to b there on the terms of phenomenon …. if we consider that….. although i know most of u will not agree but i personally like Dharmendra very much in his era of 1967 to 1978… i think he was most charismatic at that time… but i know he can b kept out of top 5 very comfertably…

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  4. alex adams Says:

    Thanx Shaurya-
    “but i know he can b kept out of top 5 very comfertably…”–u have (correctly) answered your own question…

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  5. shaurya Says:

    i once read an interview of naseeruddin shah…. which i believe is the most prolific actor INDIA ever had… he said Aamir khan is the most overrated actor… and talent wise just an average guy… Satyam can u please discuss this…
    and alex i would also request u guys to discuss a list purely based on acting talent of an actor… lets see how diffrent is the list from above…

    according to me… i would rate..

    1. Sanjeev kumar
    2. Naseeruddin shah
    3. Raj kapoor
    4. Gurudutt
    5.Amitabh bachchan

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    • Naseer is not far truth when you talk about actor only but when you talk about star actor then I guess he is completely wrong. But then this statement was prior to his warming up. He has been bitter with Aamir after Sarfarosh. But I think relations improved after JTYJN and Peepli Live.

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  6. alex adams Says:

    Good list Shaurya
    “and alex i would also request u guys to discuss a list purely based on acting talent of an actor… “—Shaurya–the problem with a list based purely on “acting talent” is that there is much more subjectivity, bias involved as an inherrent factor.
    Teasing out these “confounding factors” is nearly impossible.
    However the list i have provided above for eg tries to take into account verifiable and measurable indices like box-office, longevity and reach.
    Having said that, your list seems reasonable except that i will not have raj kapoor and guru dutt anywhere in that “acting ” list, for starts..
    And also, there will be some people(wont name them/ her)who may feel obliged to put someone like SRK on “no1” on that “acting” list which will be not only intolerable but also self-defeating…hahaha

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  7. shaurya Says:

    hahaha…. true

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  8. shaurya Says:

    I was wondering… we all have our own list of top 5 actors in the industry. Lists which r debatable on the basis of box office strength and talent…
    Although I m in my early twenties but I realy like reading the history of cinema and rise and fall of actors… and whatever knowledge i have is based on litreture… so no personal experience of Golden age of Indian cinema…

    I always had a soft corner for underdogs… people who either almost made it to the no.1 spot or who inspite of being talented…. had to struggle for being in top 10…
    Lets have a list of our personal top 5 …. which we wished were the original top 5 in this section… people who we really wanted to b there… and who could not make it into the list of Alex…

    My Unconventional list is:

    1. Dharmendra

    ( some call him greek god… well he became my fav when i saw the song MAIN KAHIN KAVI NA BAN JAON… TERE PYAR MEIN AYE KAVITA… the way he looked into the eyes of his heroines… there was something in his look which showed that he really loved them… and the song… MERE DUSHMAN TU MERI DOSTI KO TARSE…the hatred in his eyes was spel bounding)

    2. Sunil dutt

    ( A performance which left me awstruck was Mother India… no one has moved me like that ever… and by that I mean no one…)

    3. Vinod khanna

    ( people say that if he would have not left with OSHO… he would have been where Mr bachchan is… that rests with god and his wish… may b he would have not… who knows)

    4. Sanjay dutt

    (the time he went in the custody of police… he was the most bankable star and industry had 250 crores invested on him.. i like him as a person)

    5. Abhishek bachchan

    ( still hoping…. lets see…… My girlfriend thinks i can even leave her if she ever criticized Abhishek)…

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  9. read the preview of Bbuddah hoga tera baap in …timesofindia.com and the comments!!

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  10. @satyam- i cant get a reply button above!! so commenting here:

    “You can’t just compare people across eras without contextualizing properly.”

    “If I seem annoyed here it’s because quite often the history gets such short-shrift here. I have lionized Aamir for the longest time but really Aamir’s real status as a star begins in this past decade with Lagaan. There’s no history Aamir creates in any sense in the previous decade. His entire influence, his structural re-alignment and so on about which I’ve said so much is this past decade. And yes he’s going to do a lot more but he’s also not a young guy anymore. Aamir has never been the iconic sort of star in the truest sense. He’s built it all on prestige about which I have the greatest admiration. But c’mon this is Dilip Kumar we’re talking about!”

    Well Disagreed!! on second part and partially on first one.

    See i very clearly believe
    _____________________________________
    “Every Generation has his Hero/star”
    _____________________________________

    (edited) [ had written a long reply but thought its futile to the cause, i would like to believe above sentence and stop there.]

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  11. alex adams Says:

    Rooney–thanx for the reply.
    Although your “long reply” (not inlduded) is actually quite welcome and seems will be worthwhile

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    • @ALEX- well thnx! but i guess cant go to type again!! and loads of work on head, being other reason as i usually tend to avoid debates this days, but briefly:

      I believe firstly for every actor his impact is different, iconic is ted a controversial a word, as earlier days the word had charm, but now in this media age, that word loses importance for me.

      People tell me they like srk, in his interview, jokes, tv appearances etc and many say they are quite iconic, well i believe that has contributed quite to his iconic appeal, as through out his phase he has been media’s poster boy, eight aor wrong m not here to debate.

      while other has been for a long period in hibernation!!

      so iconic what satyam talks is quite khokhla/empty imo as both have never been on same page, and quite opposite.

      I dont say being a media posterboy is bad, but its quite easy, with humour, jokes, etc to conquer with charm.

      So i find this iconic thing of satyam quite perplexing.

      On other actors,

      i havent seen them in their prime, their legacy is what came to me, and i believe should be respected, to debate on something that is based on nostalgia would be futile and i admit lack of knowledge on that front, on that period of cinama!

      Bachchan- doesnt need anywords, but i have to say his script sense was and indeed in mnay sense have disappointed me a lot, in a era in which i have seen him. Even lets say after his company became functional, for a veteran of his stature, his script sense is quite perplexing to me.
      _____________________________________________________

      So i can talk of SRK, AAMIR and Bachchan.

      Of them i feel, and think Aamir is ahead, i wont say reasons as stardom, impact etc. But i would say he is unique of the breed of actors in which he stands.

      for eg, his is a first of his kind. A breed unto himself. A breed which requires lot examination, and i cant state that here, but briefly, script oriented, where actor is part of script, which often in AB’s film and SRK’s film i find their character being more Vijay and Raj then what they should be.

      For here is an actor which is never recollected as specific role, like vijay, prem, raj, etc he never repeated them imo (if anything contrary then i am unaware)

      Here i take eg. Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead, ofcourse i am taking too much liberty, but here is an individual who believes in himself and his qualities, and individualism, first of his kind, he i guess has rarely done guest appearance, movies for friends, his work has been foremost, one work at a time, etc.

      So again i cant talk of past, but this generation that i am part of he is the fountainhead.

      ps- again i need more words and time to construct alex what i mean, as have written it brief to my original comment, only touching issues i want, so consider it just a teaser of theory!

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      • alex adams Says:

        “have written it brief to my original comment, only touching issues i want, so consider it just a teaser of theory!”–thanx rooney–some good points nonetheless…

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  12. vatikala Says:

    It is foolish to prepare a list like grocery list. Everyone’s contribution is unique and it is better to view them as individual contributors than a merit list published by universities. Some are tossed to the top due to other factors than pure merit. Thus the list can never be taken at face value. However we try, the biases will be there. These lists are controversial as such. And bollywood would have survived and flourished even if the persons mentioned in the list have not entered. Others would have filled the gap in a different way. None is indispensable. One drop of water may be part of the mighty Ocean, but we view ocean not in terms of individual water drops.

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    • vatikala Says:

      And Aamir Khan is somewhat like Gurudatt but in a commercial and materialistic way, while Gurudatt seems to be an idealist.

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    • alex adams Says:

      VAtikala–the fact that “nobody is indispensable” is not in question–this is a known fact.
      As before, u choose to miss the “Main point” and ram into something else—Well, this too is a charactristic of some–but wont go there as of now!!
      Bu that does not mean, “lists” cannot/ should not be prepared, based on sense, reason , information and consensus.
      U can come up with your own similar list and that will also be open to discussion—but if u are incapable of “decisive and unbiased focussed thinking” –thats not the fault of others hahaha…
      Keep trying though….

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  13. vatikala Says:

    Because we end up comparing apples and oranges.

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  14. alex adams Says:

    “Because we end up comparing apples and oranges.”–Thats where the complex interplay of insight, transcendence, knowledge, judgement and probity comes into play. Those not in possession of the above traits do feel themselves incapable and end up bringng the “apple and orange” analogy.
    Also, those (like your truly) who CLAIM that they possess these may actually not…But there is nothing wrong in making a worthwhile attempt (and not having a default negativist mindset)
    hahaha
    As your idol Rajini Kant would say–Mind it!!! lol

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    • AA, if the topic of debate itself is irrational and illogical, the ensuing debate will be same…illogical and irrational….people will make lists and such lists are ALWAYS subjective. For instance my list will have Naseerudhin Shah, Om Puri, Paresh Rawal, Sanjeev Kumar, Balraj Sahni etc
      How come Raj Kapoor comes into the list? What did he do? He was a showman not an actor by any means. He was just average or even below average (for me)!

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  15. vatikala Says:

    For example, Kishore Kumar has the exuberance of SRK, sharpness of Aamir Khan plus a sort of endearing crankiness. Can he be compared to anyone?
    And Om Prakash, Mehmood whose unique styles made heroes a bit uncomfortable.

    Like

  16. vatikala Says:

    Judgements. Ha. Playing god.

    Like

  17. alex adams Says:

    VAtikala—u r free to continue your random sporadic “light of ideas” till u come up with somethign structured, sensible (and coherent).
    U so enjoy playing the tyrant “schoolkid” in the back row –and know that this “kid” enjoys the spanking—but wont oblige u this time….hahahaha

    Like

  18. vatikala Says:

    What a case of narcissism! I am better and you are nothing types. These types of judging self and others betrays their ability to try to judge the stars fairly. Attempting is what eveyone does, the results vary. Vary to a great extent and thats because individual perceptions cloud objectivity.

    Like

  19. alex adams Says:

    typos–“flight of ideas”
    “yours truly” (ie me)

    Like

  20. vatikala Says:

    Why that villainish hahahaha? Ravan like? An abhishek hangover?

    Like

  21. alex adams Says:

    Will repeat something from above as a “definitive” response to these sort of utterings VAtikala–“VAtikala—u r free to continue your random sporadic “flight of ideas” till u come up with somethign structured, sensible (and coherent).
    U so enjoy playing the tyrant “schoolkid” in the back row –and know that this “kid” enjoys the spanking—but wont oblige u this time….hahahaha”
    ps—-Have to give it to you that you have shown remarkable “stamina” and “thick skin” to continue in your “tyrant school kid” act hoping for a “spanking” –Although i wont mind may even enjoy) doing it, wont indulge in it for the sakes of “decency”.
    In the context of this blog–Others (for eg like oldgold and sm) who have “fallen by the wayside” unable to withstand the “travails” and “rigours” of it all —and who in Darwins words “perished” lol
    Got to sort something (else) out now briefly….

    Like

    • You are being unfair AA….EVERY one has right to a debate. You cannot chose not to debate AND make a personal attack the person for what they have to say. If you don’t want to debate then do quietly with tail bet. legs and don’t speak. By saying things below the belt, you are exposing yourself and that ain’t good (no pun intended).

      Like

  22. vatikala Says:

    Again indulging personal attacks. Instead of arguing. Poking fun. Hahahahah. Spanking. I think you must be spanking a lot in real life as well. Sadism. Covered with superficial niceties.

    Like

  23. vatikala Says:

    Any sane person would have understood what I meant. If otherwise, nothing can be done.

    Like

  24. alex adams Says:

    LOL Vatikala–u should admit it now–u surely and secretly enjoy the “spanking” you receive from my “hands” at every opportunity.
    And u cum back for more and more like a conidtioned relfex..
    But this occasion, im a bit busy with some other “pursuits”. and sorry, cannot oblige u this time..lol.
    U may stand in the “queue” though….hohohoho

    Like

  25. To you apples and Oranges, here is some banana 🙂

    How important, useful, relevant the lists be depends on the individuals who have seen works of ALL artists of ALL eras. I haven’t so I won’t chime into who stands where. I sort of agree with AA on importance given to Dilip Kumar (I found his heathcliff atrocious) but then again, I haven’t watched ALL of DK’s works.

    ““TAking into account -reach, box office, appeal, longevity, ability, talent, influence, legacy —plainly speaking—taking EVERYTHING into account—” I am not sure if BO matters in larger scheme of things. An actor like Om Puri may not be a huge on BO and may never get chance/opportunity like BIGB to do a Vijay Dinanath Chauhan; if he did we could compare the two. Each actor has his own area of expertise in which he is unmatched and excells. For instance no one can dance like Hrithik. No one can deliver Shakespean dialogues in deep baritone voice like Amitabh; no one can be as versatile as Kamal Hasan; no actor can cry like Tabu; Sanjeev Kumar with his combover and paunch can do cerrtain roles which bigb cannot even dream of or Naseerudin Shah who can straddle all of the three theater, blockbuster AND art cinema. They all are stalwarts in their own way. If one didn’t want to or chose not to compete in BO terms (Naseerudin Shah) or if someone who chose to work ONLY in commercial cinema….its matter of series of choices and luck. It would be ridiculous and stupidity of highest order to make lists of number uno. That should just not be done. If you have to then, maybe compare them for what they are paid for, their performance, their acting. However even that would be so silly unless ALL actors stand in a line and mouth the SAME dialogue and we sit and judge them all for the exact same role and who did better! If you give exam then the question paper has to be the same to see who got A+ and who got a F!!!

    Like

  26. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    Talking purely of star actors, Dilp Kumar stands taller than the rest. His influence on everyone from Manoj Kumar ( who based his screen name on one of the chracters played by Dk) and rajendra Kumar to Amitabh and Shahrukh is well recorded. His portrayals in films like Devdas, Andaz, Aan, Amar, Mughal-e-Azam, Madhumati, Ganga Jamuna, Nya Daur, Ram aur Shyam , Sagina and Shakti are impossible to match in tems of versatilty, iconic poular appeal and artistic achievement. A person of the stature of Lord Meghnad Desai has taken the truble to write a book on Dilip Kumar’s performances in landmark films in a book titled, ” Nehru’s Hero Dilip Kumar’ ( http://www.rolibooks.com/lotus/biography/-/nehrus-hero-dilip-kumar-in-the-life-of-india/) I dont think any other Bollywood star-actor’s work will ever draw that kind of respect or attention. Amitabh Bachchan comes a clear second. He has the versatility, the iconic appeal but not a roster of great films or performances that reach the sublime levels of true art.

    Raj Kapoor, Gurudutt and Aamir Khan can make the cut as actor cum filmmkaers. Leaving behind a body of work that Bollywood can be proud of. But as actors, it is Dilip Kumar followed by Amitabh Bachchan.

    Like

    • LOL.What crock!
      DK has his place but his ‘roster’ cant be compared to Amitabh.Too stylised
      and as a result somewhat comical in his later films. Still, very charismatic in Shakti,Mashal,Sudagar etc but purely as an actor I find him limited.He is an icon for sure overrated as an actor.Do agree that he has influenced quite a few to some degree.

      Like

      • Yep…I believe Guru gudd rahe gaya aur chela chini ban gaya….Bigb surpassed DK and then some!

        Like

      • In the 80s and to be honest even beginning in the 60s he could often be insufferable. His best work is in the 50s. But he was always a rather narcissistic performer which doesn’t of course take away from his influence.

        But I of course agree that Bachchan is the far greater talent and force in every sense imaginable.

        Like

        • Shalini Says:

          “But he was always a rather narcissistic performer which doesn’t of course take away from his influence. ”

          Barring some very early (Milan, jogan, Shikast) performances, I’ve never been particularly impressed by Dillip K’s acting. There’s something off-putting (to me) about his performances or what you’d term his “signature.” I think your very astute observation hits upon the source of my discomfort. Would love to see a fuller analysis/exploration piece from you on Dilip K sometime.

          Like

  27. Hi Utlkal….Long time no see. Kaisa hai tu?
    Well, I usually agree with everything you have to say (like minds think alike.) but as far as DK goes…I confess, I haven’t watched everything he has been in….but in his older age, he had/has problem with his eyes and eyes are everything for an actor. So I find all that squinting and stuff (he does with his eyes) really horrendous. Not to say that that takes away from his performances in his young age.
    One cannot compare John Wayne and Clint eastwood. They both are iconic in their own way. I find making such list in terms of #1, #2….quite baseless and border on ridiculousness that only some journos can indulge in.

    Like

    • “Hi Utlkal….Long time no see. Kaisa hai tu?”

      LOL, I Like that 🙂 like the endearment word u used 😉 “kaisa hai tu”

      ps- no knowledge on DK or else would have commented on that 🙂

      Like

      • Didn’t get any acknowledgement from him. The “tu” is more for the youthful spirit in writing then to the actual age of writer. For you it would be “kem cho tame”?

        Like

  28. Aamir has bought his father’s films, all of them except HHRPK.

    http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/news-by-industry/media/entertainment-/entertainment/aamir-khan-buys-out-rights-to-father-tahir-hussains-films/articleshow/8831160.cms

    Ironically, the one film whose rights are in dispute and therefore not with Khan is one in which he stars, called ‘Hum Hain Rahi Pyaar Ke’. “My father was not a top-notch producer like say Yash Chopra or Gulshan Rai. As kids, we have seen really close the lows of his films failing really close,” says a dewy-eyed Khan. Memories of those times still make the emotions well up inside Khan.

    Interesting two page article.

    Like

  29. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    @Rajen: DK has his place but his ‘roster’ cant be compared to Amitabh.Too stylised

    Waht nonsense! hat has Amitabh got that can compare with The intensity ofa tragic lover in Devdas, the smouldering passion of a dignified prince Mughal-e-Azam, the exuberamt rural tongawala of Naya Daur, the urbane lover of Andaz, the quirky union leader of Sagina?

    To stylized? Isnt stylization is what distinguishes a star artist from te prdinary one? Isnt Picasso known by his signature stylization/ AR rahman? Brando? Chaplin? There is nothing wrong with stylization. The issue is the artistic merit of that stylization and there Dilip Kumar’s performance is closest to art in the annals of Indian cinema.

    You talk of the charism ain films like hakti, ashal and Saudagar and complain about his later films. I thought these were the later films!!

    Like

    • “hat has Amitabh got that can compare with The intensity ofa tragic lover in Devdas, the smouldering passion of a dignified prince Mughal-e-Azam, the exuberamt rural tongawala of Naya Daur, the urbane lover of Andaz, the quirky union leader of Sagina? ”

      It should be considered infra dig to answer this question!

      Like

      • Utkal lives on a different planet.
        Stylisation beyond a point becomes caricatural. Which is what happened with Dilip Kumar. As Satyam said, his portrayal came across as being narcissistic. He was very different VERY, VERY early in his career.

        Like

        • Dilip Kumar’s greatest strengths were that he was an effective mood actor and he combined it with a certain naturalism which after the excessive theatricality of the 40s (when cinema was still too close to theater) seemed very welcome. But leaving aside the bachchan comparison I have never found him phenomenal. In Andaz for example Raj Kapoor stole the show, this was seen as such at the time and which is why Dilip Kumar never worked with Raj Kapoor after this. The Mughal-e-Azam performance is one of his most iconic ones, at least for that age, and I honestly don’t see the fuss. Now it is true that I don’t belong to that age but the greatest performances transcend their age as do the greatest films. I can certainly ‘see’ that Dilip Kumar is way better than most and again the other day I defended in every way his extraordinary significance for Hindi cinema but he has never surprised me very much as an actor. And I say this as someone who likes many of his 50s films (not Devdas though.. this subject has never been to my taste.. here I preferred the effortless Motilal). And certainly Dilip Kumar’s brooding image suited many of these films. But I just don’t see the titanic performer here. In the same vein I think even less of Sivjai Ganesan (some folks from TN will murder me on this!). The other thing is that Dilip Kumar made a fetish out of his naturalism and it became ridiculous beyond a point. But his prestige was such that no matter how over the top he became later on people loved him. For example that scene from Mashaal when his wife dies. I find it quite appalling. But many consider this a touchstone of performance. Even by the 60s there was too much of a ‘look at me and see how I do this’ attitude to his performances.

          Incidentally once upon a time Utkal’s view was the dominant one where an older generation just refused to recognize Bachchan as a great performer. But time has completely overtaken that view. Very few in the generations since are willing to subscribe to that view. Now of course most of Dilip Kumar’s older films seem dead but this too is part of the game. To have a body of work that transcends your age. For example Raj Kapoor’s films are very vital and alive today. Guru Dutt has really been rewarded by history. And this isn’t surprising. There are very many interesting dilip Kumar films in the 50s but it is hard to nominate many of them (if any) as ‘great’ in the sense that one can unhesitatingly call Awara great. Too many of those films seem either of their time or interesting in a limited sense. Amar and Footpath incidentally would get my vote for best Dilip Kumar films of the 50s.

          Like

  30. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    Infra dig or not, let me put up a comparison any way. Amitabh has more thamn matched The intense anti-hero of Gunga Jamun in Deewar , the swashbuckling , energetic hero of Aan in Suhagg , Namak Haraa etc and the goofy comic of Kohinoor and Ram aur Shyam in Amar akbaranthony, namka Halal etc. So I have left out these categories.

    Now let us talk of the other films mentioned.

    Muqadar Ka Sikandar vs Devdas. Naa. Devdas is far classier and a classic.

    The urban lover of Anadaz vs what Silsila and Jurman and Beshram? No. Andaz again is far subtler and classier.

    The rural tongawala of Naya Daur vs the toddy tapper of Saudagar or the tapori chracters of Hera Pheri or Sharabi. No Naya daur wins again.

    The cool protagomist of renicarnation, sppoky drama Madhumati vs Brsaat Ki raat? No again.

    Salim of Mughal-E-zam vs Khuda Gawah.

    The quirky, maverick trade union leader of Sagina bs Azad of Main Azaad Hoon. Azaad was god I must admit. But Sagina was far more complex and charming.

    The dark, brooding rapist of Amar vs the aged lover of Nishabd. Yes. But perhaps.

    The don of Vidhata vs Gabbar of RGV’s Aag? Come, come, we cannot be serious.

    The police inspecor of Shakti vs POice officer of Zanjeer. Equally good I would say.

    And I am not even talking of the pre-1955s films of Dilip Kumar , many of which I havent seen ( Musafir, Jogan, Shaheed , etc) . And to be fair Amitabh gora few unique portrayals of his own as well: Don, Cheeni Kum and of course Paa. So Amitabh is close, I will admit.

    Like

    • What nonsense is this ?? Why you are comparing chalk to cheese ??

      for eg .. “The don of Vidhata vs Gabbar of RGV’s Aag? Come, come, we cannot be serious.” ????

      Why not DON of vidhata VS REAL DON(1978) or Agneepath ??

      Can we be serious now ??

      Like

    • AamirsFan Says:

      ‘So Amitabh is close, I will admit.’

      lol…glad you can admit this. look i know all this is based on opinions but amitabh has perfected whatever DK attempted to do. and that is the ultimate compliment to DK. im a huge fan of basketball and i compare it to this:

      Dr J was great but MJ perfected all Dr. J’s moves and became the all-time greatest player basketball has ever seen.

      DK was great but Amitabh perfected the skills, the mannerisms, the style that DK had and amitabh just OWNED it.

      I do admit Amitabh of today is sort of staying a bit too long just like MJ stayed too long when he played with the washington wizards. Amitabh has done every role imaginable and has just perfected it and in my opinion he should just relax now and enjoy all of his accomplishments. but hey thats just my opinion.

      Like

  31. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    Thanks, Jeevan. But no, Don is not comparable to Vidhaata. It is a ctegory by itself and I have given credit to Amitabh for that. Vidhaata can be compared to Agneepath for sure. And I think they are on par there.

    Like

    • IAMTHAT Says:

      How can it be par??? Sanjeev kumar in that one scene in Vidhatta owned Dk. IMHO.. as here only Opinions float and you cant say yours is truer than mine 🙂

      DK was not gr8 in Vidhata. period..Vidhata is only rembered for that double meaning song.

      Like

      • alex adams Says:

        “Vidhata is only rembered for that double meaning song.”thanx iamthat–can you please educate us of thst song–im usually bad at picking these up lol
        ps–LS–good link there about aamir buying out his dads producations.
        ps2-LS–Correct me if im wrong, but are you not based in europe, more specifically UK….just a hunch

        Like

  32. alex adams Says:

    thanx for all the cumments everyone–have enuf “meat” or (“masala” for vegetarians now)
    also thanx utkal for your “rewind” on DK (although dont agree vis a vis amitabh eg comparing Vidhaata vs rgv ki aag!!)
    BUt it answers the innocent pleas of many today (for eg ideaunique or dimps) who question as to “what the fuss about DK?”
    Correct me if i am wrong—but suspect, that unlike me and most others here. you were actually a viewing adult during most of DKs active filmography.
    Hence your views do gain more “weight” (but obviously have ot stand the test of “debate”)
    btw–in my assessment, the “golden era” can be summed as the “big four”–DK, RK, Dev anand and last but not the least-ashoke kumar—whats your take on their “ranking”
    ps–“Hi Utlkal….Long time no see. Kaisa hai tu?”
    Agree with rooney there.lol
    Anyhow, reminds one of Dimps “transcendent” love across the eras as in DKs MAdhumati lol

    Like

  33. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    @ IAMTHAT: I agree Vidhata was not great. That’s why it was not in my original list of DK’s classic performances. But then neitherw as Agnepath geat in my opinion. Hew as just reprsing deewar, which was the real thing. This one
    was a mish-mash of Scarface and Deewar, with gimmicks like the raspy voice and didn’t quite work for me.

    Like

  34. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    @alex adams: I did watch DK in my adult years, but only from Raam aur Shaym and Aadmi onwards. The rest I watched as back catalog, in morning show re-runs , simply because I was so impressed, I had to see these films ( Mughal-e-Azam, Devdas, Ganga Jamuna, Naya Daur, Madhumamti, Kohinoor, Daag, Andaz, Amar, Aan).

    My final summing up: hew as far ahead of his times, his underplaying a marked contrast to the more melodramatic style prevalent in his times. Hew as stylized, but his style had artistry, elegance and stamp of originality. He internalized the dramatics conflict inherent in the protagonists he played ( Devdas, Amar, Salim, Sagina) and became the characters he portrayed in a way that Amitabh quite did not manage. You just need to compare the Devdas of DK and that of Shahrukh to get a sense of that. watch too the body language when he plays a rural dacoit in Ganga Jamuna or a tangawala in Naya Daur, and once gain that level of stylized naturalism is something neither Amitabh or Sharukh did. ( Aamir did much better in Lagaan or Rangeela, I must admit, matching what DK achieve in films like Naya Daur ).

    Overall there is transcendent quality to Dilip Kumar’s performance, something above the banality of Bollywood, something classical, that prompted someone like Lord Meghnad Desaito pen his bok. ( You guys should read it to get a real grip on the phenomenon called Dilip Kumar).

    Like

    • alex adams Says:

      Utkal–nice insight there.
      WHats your take on the “star” acting masterclass called “shakti”
      DK had the better lines and role.
      who trumped whom in your opinion?
      and how do u rank the “big 4” as i mentioned above.
      as u can see, i like the “ranking” business!!!
      ps–comparing the devdas perfromance of DK and SRK is not even appropriate.
      But its also an index in the audience sensibilites of that era and this.
      The fact that srk is liked so much now (and even worshipped to the point of death by some) shows that there is an appetite for thsi sort of “over the top stylised hamming”

      Like

  35. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand, ashok Kumar…is just about the right ranking.

    Dilip Kumar was the star-actor that set the standrds for the times as well as the future. Raj kapor wasa gifted actor too, but his focus was more on filmamking. His early films like Shree 420 and Awara are certainly classics. But his lter stuff likeJs Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai, Sangam, Ram Teri Ganga Maili Ho Gayi are forgettable. Only the part 1 of Mera Nam Joker, Bobby ( a real charmimg love story and Prem Rog show the mark ofa qulaity director. But this is enough to cement his place among the pantheons. Dev Aanand’s beast years were the black and white era where he created his own versions of Bolywood Noir: Jaal, CID, Kaal Bazar, Kaala Paanietc. When he broke off from his brother Vijay he started to deteriorate to such a degree that he became a caricature and a laughing stock ( though he had hits like Jewel Thief, Johny Mera Naam and Hare Rama Hare Krishna). I am ranking Ashok Kumar , fourth, because he lacked ‘ the much maligned ‘ stylization’. Thee were flawless performances, there were the Box office successes, but without a style that creates a star, his persona was plain Jane boring. That’s how I rank the Big 4.

    Like

  36. alex adams Says:

    Good points Utkal.
    I perhaps give a bit more credit to Raj Kapoor as director than that.
    The first story of “Mera naam Joker” is perhaps one of the finest moments on Indian celluloid.
    Also missing in this assessment, is Raj Kapoors (genuine) “showman” credentials with many tried to emulate (Subhash Ghai to some extent unsuccessfully) but has been lying “vacant” till date.
    Also Raj Kapoors “music sense” and his collaborations with Shankar Jaikishan and Mukesh are truly legendary and HAVE to come into play.
    Also (although not directly) but he has to given some indirect “credit” for the continuance of his family trees involvement in films in various extents , even till today in the “shape” of Ranbir and Kareena Kappor (both of whom are more than relevant stars still)
    Besides, Raj Kapoor was the FIRST indian star whose appeal moved overseas ie into russia in an actual sense.
    Given all these, raj Kapoor is rated higher than DK in totallity (although agree that DK is a much more “acting” pillar)
    ps–would give Dev anand a bit more credit than that. And despite his failings towards the latter part of his career,( taking his other directorial/ production/. longevity/ style) he really closes in the gap from DK….
    Dev Anands “guide” remains one of the most “complete” films in bollywood history)-wherein the story, direction,music and acting all are truly iconic.–and is one of my personal favorites..
    The scenes just before and after”Din Dhal Jaaye” are legendary (although RK Laxman and Vijay anand share the credit)…and so are some of the climax moments

    Like

  37. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    @alex adam: As regards Shakti, both acted well. But I dont know if it was the lines, or the characterization, but it was Dilip’s performance that had an impact on the audience. My analysis is , Amitabh’s character was mainly brooding and dark….a bit of a loser. But by then , after films like Amar Akbar Anthony, the audience was not satisfied to see him in a one-dimensional characterization. They wanted colours, humour, irony….which were lacking. I remember many DK fans saying ‘ Sahab ne Lamu ko kha gaye.’ But no such thing happened. They both played what was written for them. And Shakti is another film after Deewa which I watch without moving, whenever it comes on TV. It is a masterclass in script and even more, dialogue writing, Bolywood ishtyle.

    Like

  38. alex adams Says:

    utkal–Agree somewhat there about “shakti” .
    This “match up” has always been intriguing to me.
    also this is one wherein there is a lot of “like for like” in terms of both stature, style and relevance. (although not “stage of career”)
    There are/ were claims from the fans of either side that DK /AB fc-uked the other…
    But to be frank, both held up quite well given the role, lines, characterisation etc.
    Having said that, at THAT stage of amitabhs filmgraphy, to come up with that sort of a verdict wherein things are nearly “equal” is infact a big achievement for DK.
    Although i think the dialogue, writing and director were all tilted a bit towards DK who got better dea.
    There were also anecdotal mentions of DK not being happy with a few things in the script and getting away with a few changes.
    which also brings us to another question.
    There may have been similar situtations in Amitabhs later films (with SRK for eg) wherein he may not have been “happy” with his role and script.
    But suspect, that amitabh either is too “gentlemanly” to object. or “interfere” OR is not in a position to do so (unlikely) or is not really much bothered or lacks conviction…
    AMitabhs discretion and choice of roles in the latter part of his career surely raises questions and has been “under the scanner” as well (to be frank)….
    Just becuase someone has been placed at “no 1” doesnt make him/her “immune” from barbs…lol

    Like

  39. ideaunique Says:

    Bhag Bhag “DK” bose…..

    Like

  40. alex adams Says:

    Like

  41. alex adams Says:

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  42. alex adams Says:

    Like

  43. Aamir Khan reels back in emotion

    Aamir Khan buys rights to 11 of 12 films produced by his late father Tahir Hussain

    Nandini Raghavendra I Economic Times

    Posted On Tuesday, June 14, 2011 at 05:58:07 PM

    Aamir Khan (Pic: BCCL)

    …Buys rights to 11 of 12 films produced by his late father Tahir Hussain

    Flashback: Between 1969 and 1994, a producer who was always inevitably struggling launched 12 films, many of which didn’t exactly set the boxoffice on fire.

    Fast forward to June 2011: The beleaguered producer’s son decides to buy the perpetual rights to 11 of those films for a few crore, more in a fit of nostalgia and less with commerce in mind. Such a transaction wouldn’t raise too many eyebrows in the big stakes environs of Bollywood. Except that in this case the son buying the perpetual rights is a certain Aamir Khan. The producer is the late Tahir Hussain who died last year at age 71. Ironically, the one film whose rights are in dispute and therefore not with Khan is one in which he stars, called Hum Hain Rahi Pyaar Ke.

    “My father was not a top-notch producer like say Yash Chopra or Gulshan Rai. As kids, we have seen really close the lows of his films failing really close,” says a dewy-eyed Khan.

    Memories of those times still make the emotions well up inside Khan.

    In the absence of corporate and institutional finance, almost all producers borrowed money from the market at ridiculously high interest rates. Business wasn’t Hussain’s forte; that apart, long delays in the completion of films and a string of turkeys at the box-office resulted in a Domino Effect on the Khan family.

    Khan recalls his and his brother’s name being up on the school notice board for as many as six months for non-payment of fees. His mother, he adds, would make their uniforms three sizes too large so that they would last longer.

    “The toughest times were during Locket (starring Jeetendra and Rekha, 1986), which took eight years to complete, or even earlier — Khoon Ki Pukar (1978) which took three years. Actors troubled him with dates and there would be at least 30 calls a day from creditors calling for their money,” recalls Khan.

    Calling up farflung theatres across the country for collections is a vivid, if painful, memory as the figures were invariably imminently forgettable. Hussain for his part did give breaks to a lot of young talent like Reena Roy, Rakesh Roshan, Raj Babbar and Bappi Lahiri, among others. The rough road his father traversed would explain why Khan avoided wearing the producer’s cap for years.

    “It’s a thankless job because after employing an entire unit you get all the brickbats for things going wrong; and when the film becomes a hit, the creative talent gets all the credit, never the producer,” says Khan.

    The reality, he adds, is that if it hadn’t been for the producer, the creative talent would not have got an opportunity.

    To source the films, Khan says he sought the help of “the only man who could have helped me get back my all my father’s films which we had lost.” The man is Jayantilal Gada, a veteran with a quarter century in the Hindi film industry and founder chairman of Pen India, which holds one of the largest Hindi film libraries.

    For Gada, the emotional call from Khan was enough to set to work. He traced the negatives of the films to the Hinduja group. Hussain had mortgaged the negatives of all his films to them, says Gada.

    A year ago when the library came into the market, Shemaroo Entertainment bought 11 of the 12 films. So the films rights were all with Shemaroo.

    “Hiren Gada of Shemaroo (no relation of Jayantilal) did not hesitate when I explained the emotional reason of why Khan wanted to own his father’s film library, to gift it to his mom; yet it was a nice gesture on Hiren’s part (to sell to Aamir),” adds Jayantilal Gada.

    The transaction was worth a couple of crores. Yet, there was a small hitch. Shemaroo had already sold the television rights to UTV Movies for five years. Hiren Gada says he was upfront with Khan about it. For Khan, that was the least of the issues. In fact, he is looking at restoring the films before he thinks of anything further.

    Can Khan monetize these films? Gada of Pen says when old films have only two resources—satellite rights (TV) which is 90% of the value and another 10% maybe from the home video business. So, if Khan decides he can possibly recover what he bought but that’s not his focus right now.

    For his production house however, which completes a decade this June 15, it adds value and numbers. “Yes, the 11 films get added to the Aamir Khan Productions library now,” says Khan finally smiling.

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  44. In the same vein I think even less of Sivjai Ganesan.

    I just hope you are not saying Amitabh is a better actor than sivaji ganeshan. 😀

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    • The logic would seem to be easy to follow!

      Sivaji I think belongs to a certain age of Tamil cinema where there was little distinction between the theatrical and the cinematic (the only think I find interesting here is the extent to which even the makeup conventions of the stage were preserved here.. for example a painted mustache as opposed to a real one.. ‘interesting’ because there is a certain tradition of the ‘mask’ that comes through in this cinema.. some correspondences with Japanese theater/cinema here.. in other words the actor’s face represents a mask..). His ‘greatness’ I believe remains a mystery to anyone not of his age. In other words his accomplishments don’t transcend his word. I can see why he would be considered ‘great’ if the opposition was Gemini or for that matter MGR! but not otherwise. It’s not that I am unused to a theatrical style of performance inasmuch as I consider this style always poor as a choice in cinema (though it has found an audience in certain contexts). I think Kamal is infinitely superior to him. Which is not to deny his cultural force or his influence on an entire generation of Tamil actors.

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