Bollywood's Most Exciting Debuts (Male Stars)
Ashok Kumar (Achut Kanya – 1936): As a young assistant to filmmaker Himanshu Rai, Ashok Kumar got his break in acting career by accident when he was offered to substitute for the lead actor who fell ill before production of Achut Kanya started. Initially he was reluctant to play the lead opposite Devika Rani who was not only his boss but also a very strict one at that. However, when he relented, Bollywood discovered one of its biggest stars ever. Ashok Kumar’s unique easy-style acting, quite a contrast to theatrical acting common then, was highly acclaimed. The film was a big hit at the box-office and Himanshu Rai repeated the successful team of Devika Rani and Ashok Kumar in several of his movies. Even when Devika Rani retired from acting after her husband’s untimely demise, Ashok Kumar remained in great demand throughout his entire career as a legendary actor.
Surendra (Deccan Queen – 1936): Moviemakers in Bombay were desperately looking for a singer to match the legendary singer K. L. Saigal, whose melodious voice was making Calcutta’s New Theatres far ahead of them at the box-office. Their search ended with the famous producer-director Mehboob Khan discovering a 6-foot tall, handsome singer Surendra, to play hero in his first musical Deccan Queen. The melodious rendering of ‘Birha ki aag lagi more man mein’ in the movie was a great start to establish Surendra as the Saigal of Bombay. The film was a big hit and so was Surendra as a singing star. Mehboob repeated him in several of his successful musicals including the all time musical hit Anmol Ghadi.
Rishi Kapoor (Bobby – 1973): Rishi was the male kitsch fashion plate of 70s Bollywood. His use of over the top clothes was a way for him to really get into his characters. After the release of Bobby he was nicknamed ‘Lover Boy’ and he became the major teen heartthrob of 70s entertainers. He was the dashing singing and dancing kind chasing romance in light hearted films. He was born to the first family of Hindi cinema, the Kapoor clan. But if there is one actor who has truly vindicated his claim to fame, it is Rishi Kapoor. Rishi won a National Award when he was barely 18 for his sensitive portrayal of a teenager’s first crush in father Raj Kapoor’s opus Mera Naam Joker. The young actor became catnip to college girls at 21; when his dad next helmed him in the super hit Bobby.
Amjad Khan (Sholay – 1975): Every once in a while comes a movie where someone else besides the hero or heroin shines far brighter than the others. An author backed role or the genius of the actor or perhaps a mix of both these elements, whatever it may be, you have the movie with magical memories of this someone else. Perhaps, the most famous ‘someone else’ in Bollywood’s entire history is Amjad Khan as Gabbar Singh in Sholay. There never was such a wild fire feverish craze and never will be, which Amjad Khan generated among the masses in his first release Sholay. Each and every of Gabbar’s dialogue was memorized plain verbatim. Amjad Khan made Gabbar Singh eternal.
Nana Patekar (Gaman – 1978): Nana Patekar has been an excellent performer from his first movie Gaman to Ankush to Apharan. He is one of the most sincere actors in the industry. He gets so much engrossed into the role that he portrays that it becomes difficult to separate the real from the reel. Audiences were able to perceive his low-key charisma, but also one of the rare performers who can carry the entire film on his shoulder. Nana Patekar is the most explosive actor Hindi cinema has ever seen. He has finally graduated from a small budget actor to one of the hottest commodities in Bollywood.
Kumar Gaurav (Love Story – 1981): Rajendra Kumar launched his son Kumar Gaurav in his first production Love Story. In three hours of its release, the shy unassuming Gaurav became the national heartthrob. The movie was a super duper hit. Rajendra Kumar by this successful move had also started a new trend of launching star-sons which is being followed to this day.
Aamir Khan (Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak – 1988): Born in a noted film family (grand uncle Nasir Hussain, father Tahir Hussain), he went directly into films from college and made his first hit movie playing a college boy. The film, Qayamat Se Qayamat was a runaway hit with the super hit song ‘Papa kehte hein’, and Aamir Khan became a rage with the youth audiences. Aamir Khan won Filmfare Sensational Debut Award for the film. Even after spending 18 years in the industry as a dependable super star, the Desi version of Tom Hanks manages to retain freshness in his performance.
Hrithik Roshan (Kaho Naa Pyaar Hei – 2000): Son of Rakesh Roshan, actor-director-Producer, Hrithik grew up in the world of cinema. Wanting to learn everything about cinematography and acting, he worked with his father during the production of Koyla and Karan-Arjun. Later he even helped his father during the scripting stages of Kaho Naa Pyaar Hei, not knowing that his father had chosen him for the lead role. The film was released in January 2000; Rakesh got a superstar actor and the Hindi cinema got a brand new idol. Hrithik’s name instantly got penciled in on top directors’ list of actors to sign for upcoming films. Hrithik became an instant success. His first performance earned him Filmfare Award not only for best newcomer, but best actor also.
Vivek Oberoi (Company – 2002): Holding your own against stalwarts of the industry in your very first film is something very few artistes can claim. That is why when someone does it is cause for much hype and praise. For his first film, Ram Gopal Verma’s Company, Vivek Oberoi won the Best Debut award and also won best supporting actor award. He was pitted against stalwart Ajay Devgan and Malayalam superstar Mohanlal. The hype that the debutant had generated, very few new comers had done on the release of their first film. Son of veteran actor Suresh Oberoi, Vivek became the most talked about lad in Bollywood. As usual, the filmmakers made a beeline for him.
John Abraham (Jism – 2003): John Abraham hogged all attention as a pin up model when he did the Provogue ad. Like all models, John too aspired to become an actor. Producer Pooja Bhatt signed him to play the lead for her low-budget film Jism. The film also featured his girl friend Bipasha Basu. The script of Jism demanded some hot scenes from Bipasha and John that they willingly agreed to do. Jism turned out as a big hit of the year and audiences applauded the ditched lover instantly. He was declared a potential debutant and won the Best Debut award.