From Shahenshah, Dreamgirl to Rowdy Rathore: Title roles make a comeback in Bollywood

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Once upon a time Bollywood superstars were identified by title roles they played. Amitabh Bachchan was Anthony bhai till Shahenshah happened in 1988. Shah Rukh Khan was labelled Baazigar quite early in his career, long before he became Bollywood’s Baadshah. Among heroines, Hema Malini was Dream Girl, Rekha was often referred to as Khoobsurat and Sridevi was Bollywood’s Chandni.Hum Aapke Hain Koun and Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge shifted the trend to long names in the Nineties. Producers scurried to register the most melodramatic, most stretchedout title that at times ran into complete sentences (recall Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Hum Aapke Dil Mein Rehte Hain or Hamara Dil Aapke Paas Hai.)

Bollywood’s renewed interest in naming films after protagonists has been set off after several recent blockbusters. The industry thrives on fads and hits such as Dabangg, Ek Tha Tiger, Rowdy Rathore, Rockstar and 3 Idiots set the current trend. The year’s biggest blockbuster Chennai Express is also named after a train, after all.

Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh in a still from forthcoming release Ram-Leela

A title role is a convenient way to underline the image a star wishes to sell. The deal is easy for heroes in male-dominated Bollywood, not so for heroines.

Sample how Vidya Balan – the most consummate actress of this generation – has had no title role since her debut film Parineeta despite several heroine-oriented hits. Neither has Katrina Kaif, widely deemed the top glam diva in recent times, unless you are game to count Mere Brother Ki Dulhan. The only current superstar heroine to have had a couple of title roles is Kareena Kapoor Khan. Chameli created some impact but Heroine tanked.

Priyanka Chopra has had none, and this year’s undisputed queen Deepika Padukone gets her first shot at the trend with half a title role in Ram-Leela. An exception is Kangna Ranaut. Forever regarded an outsider to the rat race, Kangna has Rajjo, Queen and Revolver Rani coming up. She is, in fact, the only mainstream heroine with title roles in her kitty right now.

He is a Software Engineer from Moodbidri currently living in Kuwait. He likes to travel and post interesting things about technology. He is the designer of Kannadigaworld.com. You may follow him on FB at fb.com/alanpaladka

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