We don't need another hero
Until recently, Bollywood heroes held a monopoly on the industry. Stars, such as the Khans could lure movie buffs into cinema halls based on their star power alone. But there's a twist in the tale this year.
An invasion of sorts, led by 20-something fresh faced hopefuls, seems to be taking over the world of glossy musicals. Close on the heels of Dubai boy Taaha Shah's debut in Luv Ka The End, which has done moderately well, another romantic comedy, Pyaar Ka Punchnama (Analysing Love), will attempt to be the launch pad for as many as five newcomers.
Releasing Thursday, the comedy about three guys and their complicated relationships with women is helmed by a debutante director, Luv Ranjan.
The 28-year-old director is not fretting about his film's lack of star power. According to him, leading a clutch of unknowns meant complete creative freedom.
"When I came up with the story, I wanted to work with newcomers because I knew I didn't want to work in a film with actors coming behind the camera telling me what to do. I want to do a film on my own terms," Ranjan told tabloid!.
It's not unheard of in Bollywood for stars to dictate terms on how their films and scripts should progress. Rumour has it that Salman Khan was miffed with award-winning director Sanjay Leela Bhansali when he refused to change the climax of Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam in 1999. Apparently, Khan wanted to walk away with the heroine Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in the love-triangle.
"As a director, you need your space. I don't want to be a part of a big-budget Rs400 million film, instead I just want to be a part of a Rs100 million film that I can call mine," adds Ranjan.
Auditions for the film were held over six months. "I think I have met every model, TV serial actor in the range of 18 to 28 years," he says. "I was involved in the process right from the beginning. Some I could decide instantly but it took me more than three months to decide on whether Kartik should play Rajat."
Kartik Tiwari, 22, was discovered through the social networking site Facebook. The Bollywood hopeful, a biotechnology student in Mumbai, says it will be a wait-and-see for him in the industry.
"I will try Bollywood for a couple of years and if I don't get a break I will return to pharma research. My parents are doctors and my family is filled with people with white-collared jobs. So Bollywood is not something they entirely understood," he says.
"I am completely new at this. I just sent a picture taken on my mobile and posted it on the casting director's wall and I got a call right away. But after that I had to go through several rounds of auditions.
"The truth is I was completely unprepared. I didn't even have a proper portfolio."
Tiwari's co-star, model-turned-actor Raayo Bakhirta, however, was not so fortunate.
"This has not come easy to me. I have attended more than 1,000 auditions out of which I got a call for may be 30 commercials. So this is my make or break film," says the debutante, who plays a cocky, confident guy, Chaudhri, in the film.
"This is not your typical Bollywood masala film. I think every youngster out there will be able to relate to our characters," he adds. "Earlier, every hero used to be a superhero... I don't think there are any superheroes around any more."
Ranjan, who also wrote the script, couldn't agree more. The film will appeal to the 20-something demographic, he says.
"It's an exciting time to be a director in Bollywood now. We may not have completely moved away from wet-sari dances or running to Switzerland but films like these have acceptance now. There's an audience for my kind of films. I think we have learnt to co-exist."
Say hello to the newcomers
Ishita Sharma: The Delhi-based girl is a graduate in international business and has been seen in advertisements for soft drinks and jewellery campaigns. She stumbled upon PKP when she was visiting her friends in Mumbai where she met the casting director through friends.
Divyendu Sharma: He's a graduate in political science from Delhi. He has modelled for brands such as Birla Sun Life and Fidelity Mutual Funds, to name a few.
Sonali Sehgal: The Kolkota-born Sehgal is a regular at Indian fashion weeks and has modelled for several cosmetic and toothpaste brands.
Raayo Bakhirta: He's from Shimla and acting has always been his passion. He had a small stint with television and was seen in soaps like Ssshhh..Phir Koi Hai and Aapki Antara.
Kartik Tiwari: He's from Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh and was a biotechnology student in Mumbai when the offer came. He was discovered on Facebook.
Nushrat Bharucha: This Mumbai-bred girl has been dabbling in theatre for a while, but her goal was to get into a Bollywood film. After modelling for brands such as Cadbury and Indian telecommunications company BSNL, she made her debut with critically-acclaimed Love and Dhoka. PKP will be her second venture.