Although Hindi cinema has in recent times stepped out of its comfort zone and experimented with different genres, when it comes to the launch of the industry’s young ones, romance continues to rule the roost. Formulaic movies with romance, a good dose of dance, drama and action have always been an instant hit with the masses. It is natural then, that an industry kid will prefer to walk on a familiar path and establish himself as a romantic hero, with action, drama and dance put in to showcase his talent, rather than take a chance with his debut film. So, when Jackie Shroff’s son Tiger decided to make his debut, he chose Heropanti, in which he gets to showcase not only his romantic side, but can also pack in high octane action, along with the song and dance routine. Another kid belonging to the Kapoor clan, Armaan Jain will also be seen in a love story, Lekar Hum Deewana Dil. Anil Kapoor’s son Harshvardhan too makes his debut with a love story in Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s next, Mirza (working title). Also, Suniel Shetty’s daughter Athiya and Aditya Pancholi’s son Sooraj make their debut in Nikhil Advani’s remake of Jackie Shroff’s Hero. This trend of making a debut with a romantic movie has been prevalent since time immemorial. When we hark back to the past, there were several actors from film families, notable among them being showman Raj Kapoor’s son Rishi Kapoor making his debut with much fanfare in the love story Bobby. This then, strengthens the premise that almost all industry kids prefer to make their debut with a love story.
The trend continued and down the line, we have had actors like Aamir Khan who made his debut with Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, Ajay Devgn in Phool Aur Kaante, Hrithik Roshan with Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai, Ranbir Kapoor and Sonam Kapoor in Saawariya. Almost all of them became the heart-throbs of the nation. Even Abhishek Bachchan and Kareena Kapoor’s debut film Refugee, though not a quintessential love story, also had a strong undercurrent of romance beneath its grittiness. While, Salman Khan had made his debut with Biwi Ho Toh Aisi, a multi-starrer project, he achieved his moment of glory with Maine Pyaar Kiya. More recently, Arjun Kapoor, too made his debut in 2012, with Ishaqzaade, a violent love story. Industry kids, Alia Bhatt and Varun Dhawan made their debut with Karan Johar’s Student Of The Year.
So, what are the factors that industry kids take into account while making their debut with a love story? Actor Girish Kumar Taurani whose first film, Ramaiya Vastavaiya, produced by his father Kumar Taurani under the Tips banner, opines, “Sometimes, new concepts work better with new faces. Ramaiya... wasn’t a new concept, but it was made in a novel way. Although our target audience was the youth, during the making of the film, we felt that since I’m a newcomer, we should not limit our audience. Hence, it was important to make an entertaining movie that catered to all age groups. It wasn’t a conscious decision to add romance, dance, drama into the film, but the screenplay was such that I could showcase different aspects of my talent. Also, more often than not, when you’re a producer’s son, there’s a pressure to make the project commercially viable. I’m answerable to my family, and there’s a lot at stake. But, you have to go with your conviction.”
However, many times, a film-maker may miss his mark when he tries to incorporate all the elements in a film, launching an industry kid. Film-maker Vashu Bhagnani’s son Jackky who made his debut with Kal Kissne Dekha as a man with the ability to see the future, strongly feels that packing too many elements may actually work against the film. “I tried to showcase everything from action, romance, dance, comedy and drama in my first film, and it just did not work out. That’s why in my second film, F.A.L.T.U., we made a comedy with an ensemble cast, that worked very well,” Jackky had said in an earlier interview with Screen. Vashu Bhagnani had also launched actor Tusshar Kapoor (Jeetendra’s son) in a love story titled, Mujhe Kuch Kehna Hai.
While, most scripts in Bollywood are love stories demanding a fresh face, the curiosity when launching a star kid is definitely higher. The audience is eager to see what the star son or daughter will showcase on screen, “I agree that most star kids have had their debut with a love story. But honestly, in this case, our script was in place much before Tiger Shroff came into the picture. It was a conscious decision to have a newcomer, because the script demanded it. Tiger, like any other newcomer, was doing the rounds of producer’s offices. He didn’t really have any specific type of film in mind to make his debut. He just liked the script of Heropanti which made him want to do it. Besides, no matter what genre has been sucessful in the past, the film should engage the audience,”says Sabbir Khan, the director of Heropanti. But Khan also points out, that more often than not, even a star kid may not really have an option on the kind of film he wants to make his debut with. “They are at a stage when they want to act, and I don’t think newcomers have much choice about the sort of film they want to be launched with, except that they empathise with the character. At least in Tiger’s case, he wanted to make it on his own, and didn’t want a single recommendation from his father. It wasn’t really a conscious decision to make the film a perfect launch vehicle for him. It was a mere co-incidence that I wrote a love story, and thought he could fit the bill,” he adds.
While, most actors who do not belong to the industry are more experimental, for instance, Shah Rukh Khan had actually signed Dil Aashna Hai as his first film, but due to production delays, Deewana released first, making it his debut film. For Rajkummar Rao, his debut vehicle was Love Sex Aur Dhoka. There are a few industry kids too who have preferred to try out other genres. For instance, Neil Nitin Mukesh, son of singer Nitin Mukesh chose a film like Johnny Gaddaar over a romcom. “I had to undergo a lot of struggle before Johnny Gaddaar happened. But then, I was offered two scripts – Johnny… and Jaane Tu…Ya Jaane Na. I listened to my heart and decided to go with Johnny,” says the actor. Another star son, Vivek Oberoi, preferred to play the tough, gangster role in Ram Gopal Verma’s Company, based on the underworld mafia, that starred an already established actor Ajay Devgn. Despite the fact that his character had grey shades, Oberoi couldn’t have asked for a better break. Kabir Sadanand, director of the upcoming Fugly, that shall introduce new actors like Vijender Singh, Mohit Marwah, Kiara Advani and Arfi Lamba says, “I know it’s been a trend that romcoms are considered the best debut vehicle, as love stories always work. In that way, Fugly is a contrast.”
This brings us to another aspect, that most industry kids prefer to star in a solo-hero romantic film. It’s rare that one sees a star kid making a debut in a multi-starrer film. Sadanand opines, “I didn’t approach a star kid so I don’t really know, but yes, I believe that most of them would want a solo lead film as their maiden project. Although Mohit Marwah (who is Anil Kapoor’s nephew) comes from a film family, what mattered to him was the script, and not whether Fugly is a solo-hero film or not. I cast my actors according to the demand of the script and not the other way round.” Ramesh Taurani however feels that if the film has good content with perfect characterisations, it should not really matter whether an actor is making his debut in a solo film or a multi-starrer.
“Sushant Singh Rajput may have become a star with Kai Po Che, but then Rajkummar Rao and Amit Sadh are doing equally well, and getting some great work. If a film is good, it benefits everyone. Trends are changing now,” says Taurani. While debutants who do not belong to a film family are more adventurous in their choice of debut films, a majority of industry kids prefer to make their mark with a solo film, that should necessarily be a love story. So though, films like Gangs of Wasseypur saw a significant change in the content of films and in the art of story telling, the fact remains that an aspiring debutant belonging to a film family will prefer to go the conventional way and make his mark with a solo love story.