Ankita Chakrabarty/ Zee Research Group/ Delhi
Women from down south have traditionally enjoyed adulation in Bollywood spawning a generation of actresses who made it big here. But men have not had any such luck.
Barring a hit here and there, southern male stars have not made it big all the time. This might soon be a thing of the past with two young southern heroes out there to change the Bollywood script.
Rajinikanth`s son-in-law, Dhanush, who acquired nationwide fame with the song ‘ Kolaveri Di ‘ is all set to make his Bollywood debut opposite Sonam Kapoor in ‘Raanjhnaa’. Also, Telugu megastar Chiranjeevi`s son ‘Ram Charan Teja’ is making his debut in Bollywood with ‘Zanjeer’ alongside Priyanka Chopra.
South Indian actors have tried their luck in Bollywood but have failed to sustain a stable career in Bollywood. Will Ram Charan Teja and Dhanush be able to break the stereotype with a longer and a flourishing career in Bollywood?
South Indian superstars like Rajinikanth, Kamal Haasan, Chiranjeevi and Arvind Swamy who are regarded as cult figures down south failed to achieve ‘mega star’ status in Bollywood. Rajinikanth’s (Andha Kanoon -1983), Chiranjeevi’s (Aaj Ka Goonda Raj- 1992), Arvind Swamy’s (Roja-1992, Bombay -1995), Kamal Haasan’s (Ek Duje Ke Liye- 1981, Saagar -1985) were no doubt super hits but the success did not endure.
Citing the typical south Indian looks as the main reason behind the non –acceptance of southern actors in Bollywood, trade analyst Komal Nahta, says, “The typical south Indian looks of these heroes make them more regional and not universal.” No wonder that popular Bollywood heroes generally present either a chocolate boy look or don a beefcake structure.
Few others like Nagarjuna (Criminal -1992), Siddharth (Rang De Basanti- 2006), Rana Daggubati (Dum Maaro Dum- 2011), J.D.Chakravarthy(Satya-1998) are all one film wonders. Prithviraj who made his debut with (Aiyya-2012) failed to create ripples at the box –office even with his dark and macho look.
None of the actors down south have been able to achieve the pan Indian appeal. R. Madhavan is the only actor who has tasted a consistent success in Hindi cinema with movies like ‘Rang De Basanti’, ‘Guru’, ‘3 Idiots’ and ‘Tanu weds Manu’ and has a pan Indian appeal which is actually because of his small screen (TV)experience. But this does not yet position him at the level of reigning Bollywood actresses, many of whom are from south today.
The audience is the ultimate judge. Concurring with the above view film critic Taran Adarsh says, “There is an audience which wants to see all kinds of cinema and different stars from different states. It all depends on right project and a right promotion.”
But the same doesn’t hold true for south Indian actresses like Vyjayanthimala, Sri Devi, Rekha, and Hema Malini who have sizzled in Bollywood with their dusky skin and expressive features and have permanently carved a niche for themselves in Bollywood as Hindi film actresses of consequence.
Even the latest heroines like Asin Thottumkal and Ileana D’Cruz with their movies like Ghajini (2008), Ready (2011) Housefull2 (2012), Bol Bachchan (2012) and Barfi! (2012) respectively have warned everyone that they are going to stay here longer and forever.
“The regional look doesn’t bind the heroines as they have looks which are in sync with the heroines of the north, so they survive longer as compared to their male counterparts,” adds film critic Nahta.