Bollywood stars' mantra: reinvent or perish

Published On: 2012-09-22

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Bollywood stars' mantra: reinvent or perish

Date: January 29, 2006 

Aamir Khan does it with his every new release while Aishwarya Rai, Shah Rukh Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Abhishek Bachchan and Akshay Kumar too are reaping rich returns with their image makeovers. 
Gone are the days when star-struck Indian audiences would never get tired of contrived mannerisms of a Shammi Kapoor, a Dev Anand or a Dharmendra. 

To stay in the reckoning, Bollywood stars know they must re-invent themselves every now and then to retain their fan following. And going by the slew of makeovers witnessed last year, the trend is here to stay. 

Aamir Khan has been re-packaging himself with every release over the last one decade. In "Rang De Basanti", the 40-year-old has managed to pass off as a 26-year-old carefree youth with flying colours. 

The film by director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra of "Aks" fame has raked in rave reviews for being a complete entertainer and for its technical brilliance. 

Till last year Shah Rukh Khan would come across pretty much the same in all his films. The King Khan experimented in his own production last year and adopted a non-metrosexual look in "Paheli". He donned traditional attire in this movie, which is India's entry for the Oscars. 

Shah Rukh has gone in for a makeover in public life. In the absence of any immediate release he has decided to be more approachable and open about his life. 

Over the last few weeks, Shah Rukh has been all over print and electronic media giving interviews and sharing tidbits from a docu-film based on him - "Inner World of Shah Rukh Khan". Incidentally, Salman Khan has also gone in for a makeover in his public image. He is projecting himself as a victim in a case of poaching of an endangered blackbuck filed against him. 

Aishwarya Rai's image change was drastic for many. From the oh-so-proper ice maiden who has her eyes set on making it big in Hollywood, she metamorphosed into a raunchy nautch-girl in the hit-number "Kajrare" of "Bunty Aur Babli". 

Her attire, minus the traditional dupatta, went on to become the fashion statement of the year. Any doubts about her suitability for the role of "Umrao Jaan" were put to rest. 

Indeed, almost all of Bollywood's saleable stars are either over 40 or nearing the mark. Among the new lot only Abhishek Bachchan has been able to find a foothold after a protracted struggle. 

Hrithik Roshan and John Abraham have potential but need to be handled with care. Others like Fardeen Khan, Zayed Khan, Vivek Oberoi or Shahid Kapur have failed to live up to expectations. 

Says trade observer Taran Adarsh: "They have managed to stay ahead of the competition from the new crop of actors by reinventing themselves. Even if films don't give then the opportunity to do something drastic, they repackage themselves in advertisements."-*- 

In fact some young ones have taken the clue and undergone changes. Gone are the days of a flabby Esha Deol. She lost a few kilos for "Dhoom" which helped her gain a fan following. 

Tanishaa Mukherji exercised vigorously for as many as three years for "Neal 'N' Nikki" to wriggle into those tight, short skirts and push-up tops. 

Apart from his con act, which clicked, Abhishek's grunge look and suave mannerisms made him the idol of retrosexual males. 

In the year ahead, Hrithik Roshan will sport nine different looks in his forthcoming release "Krissh". And given the fact that Hrithik and father Rakesh Roshan have been making magic at the box-office whenever they work together, it would sure be a film to watch out for. 


On the heels of Aamir Khan, the week ahead is likely to witness release of another film by 40-something actor Akshay Kumar - "Meere Jeevan Sathi". The Suneel Darshan-directed film will bring Akshay, Karisma Kapoor and Amisha Patel together. 

It remains to be seen if Akshay can retain his enviable title of one of the most bankable Bollywood stars even as "Rang De Basanti" is on the marquees.