Slow and steady always wins the race. Nowhere is this truer than in showbiz where the ones who have endured are the ones who have made their way up gradually whereas the ones who had a meteoric rise tend to get left behind. Does anyone remember Kumar Gaurav whose debut film Love Story broke records?
1. Amitabh Bachchan: Except for a few hawk-eyed critics who saw his dormant potential, he went unnoticed as one of the seven protagonists in K A Abbas’ Saat Hindustani in 1969. Except for Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Anand which was an out-and-out Rajesh Khanna vehicle AB had only flops until Zanjeer in 1973. If Zanjeer had not worked AB would have quit acting and gone back to his 10-5 job in Kolkata. Zanjeer was first offered to Dev Anand and then Raj Kumar. They both turned it down since the hero had no songs to sing.
2. Rajesh Khanna: He was first seen in Chetan Anand ‘s Aakhri Khat in 1966, then two more flops Aurat and Raaz. He gave a stellar performance as a jobless youth in Baharon Ke Sapne. But this film too flopped. Everything changed overnight after the release of Shakti Samanta’s Aradhana in 1969. Thereafter the hits just flowed like toothpaste from an uncapped tube. His co-star Sharmila Tagore recalls the ferocious hero-worship that she witnessed first hand. It was something she never saw again.
3. Hema Malini: With due respect to Sridevi India’s first female superstar was Hema Malini. Her track-record still remains unequalled. And to think she started with a thundering flop in Sapnon Ka Saudagar in 1968 which launched her as India’s Dream Girl. Her pairing with the aging Raj Kapoor who was pushing 40 while she was 17 proved disastrous. Hema confessed to me that Sapnon Ka Saudagar could have killed her career. But you know what they say , what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.
4. Sridevi: Himmatwala was not Sridevi’s Hindi debut. Earlier in 1989, she was launched with some fanfare in Solva Savan a horribly botched-up remake of Bharathiraja’s Tamil film 16 Vayathinile,with Amol Palekar doing a terrible impersonation of Kamal Haasan. Understandably it flopped. If it wasn’t Jeetendra and director K Raghvendra Rao in Himmatwala her career would have sunk without a trace. Interestingly Rekha was the first choice for Himmatwala. But she didn’t have the dates.Daane daane par lika hai khane wale ka naam.
5. Ranbir Kapoor: Saawariya a magnificent opera on celluloid was a huge flop. But its debutant hero Ranbir Kapoor suffered none the worse for it. His career took off in spite of the setback. Even his father Rishi Kapoor hated Saawariya and Ranbir never worked with his mentor Sanjay Bhansali again. But according to me Ranbir never gave a better performance than he did in Saawariya, certainly not in that overrated pretentious punk take on Devdas in Rockstar.