There is something about the chemistry and sensibility of an actor with a particular director that the result is always entertaining for viewers. Well, there have been many successful actor-director combinations in Bollywood. Some of the prominent ones are David Dhawan – Govinda (11 hits), Prakash Mehra – Amitabh Bachchan (6 hits), Manmohan Desai – Amitabh Bachchan (7 hits), Rohit Shetty – Ajay Devgn (6 hits) and David Dhawan – Salman Khan (6 hits).
The box office outcome of the recent release ‘Himmatwala’ has added more weightage to the theory that delivering a hit becomes harder when a director moves to an actor who is not his regular. In the last 5 years, Sajid Khan has done nothing wrong in terms of film-making. He was on a golden run with a hattrick of successes in Heyy Babby, Housefull and Housefull 2 – all of which featured Akshay Kumar in the main lead. Sajid Khan films were hot property in the trade as the level of success was going a notch higher with every release – until he moved from his regular actor Akshay Kumar to Ajay Devgn for ‘Himmatwala’. The result is shocking and the verdict of such a mega movie is not at all encouraging.
But Sajid is not the first, nor the last person to have experienced this. Here are a few prominent examples of directors in the last 2 decades, who could not maintain the degree of success when they shifted from their regular main actor. Now all of these are back with their favorite lucky mascots.
Sooraj Barjatya: Sooraj is the primarily responsible for the domination of family movies in 90s. His first two movies Maine Pyaar Kiya and Hum Aapke Hain Kaun, are not only the biggest hits of 1989 and 1994 respectively but they are the biggest Bollywood hits of respective decades too. His third movie ‘Hum Saath Saath Hain’ again was the biggest hit of 1999. Sooraj worked with his favorite Salman Khan for all of these movies and he was the hottest director in Bollywood. He made his 4th flick ‘Main Prem Ki Deewaani Hoon’ with young heart-throbs Hrithik, Abhishek and Kareena and the film bombed at the ticket window. His next movie ‘Vivah’ with Shahid and Amrita was a success but that was largely because of the low budget of the movie and the footfalls were nowhere near to his initial three films. Sooraj is now scripting his next movie for Salman Khan.
Farah Khan: Farah arrived with a bang with ‘Main Hoon Na’. The film was the 2nd biggest grosser of 2004 and she presented SRK in a rom-com avatar much unlike his regular love stories. Her 2nd movie ‘Om Shanti Om’ broke all opening records and became the biggest grosser of 2007. She made ‘Tees Maar Khan’ with Akshay Kumar in 2010 and the movie is one of the worst movies in the last 5 years. Film got an initial due to huge holiday release and hit songs, but failed miserably afterwards. Farah is back with SRK for her 4th movie ‘Happy New Year’.
Prakash Jha: A veteran director, who only had a couple of critically acclaimed films like Bandish and Mrityudand. But Jha tasted huge commercial as well as critical success when he worked with Ajay Devgn in ‘Gangaajal’, ‘Apaharan’ and ‘Raajneeti’. Prakash’s next movies were ‘Aarakshan’ with Saif and ‘Chakravyuh’ with Arjun Rampal and both of them sank without a trace at the box office. Now, Jha is directing ‘Satyagraha’ where he is again back with Ajay Devgn.
That brings us to one of the biggest release of 2013 – Shahrukh Khan’s ‘Chennai Express’ directed by Rohit Shetty. Rohit has achieved mega success working with Ajay Devgn as together they have churned out 6 hits which include ‘Golmaal series’, ‘All the Best’, ‘Singham’ and ‘Bol Bachchan’. The big question now is – Can Rohit Shetty replicate the success with Chennai Express? The obvious answer to that question will be given on August 08, when this mass entertainer will hit the screens, globally. Will he follow the path of above mentioned 4 directors or can he break through freely like David Dhawan, who churned blockbusters with Salman Khan also after being labeled as a Govinda director.
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Abhishek Sharma tweets @abhu_sharma