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Heroes And Heroes Down The Years..

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Ali Peter John

Time when there were a certain number of requirements to make it and be a ‘hero’ in Hindi films. Being a hero was like being someone like the three legends, Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand Raj Kapoor, being a ‘hero’ meant ‘chocolate hero’ like Rajendra Kumar, Dharmendra, Jeetendra, Shammi Kapoor, Shashi Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor and above all Rajesh Khanna, “the hero among all other heroes”.

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A hero had to be tall, handsome, fair complexion and had to have the ability to speak his lines, dance as if there was no tomorrow, lip-sync with the songs and act as if he could beat the daylights out of ten to twenty men all by himself. This image of the ‘hero’ lasted for almost the first sixty years of Indian Cinema, but then came the actors trained at the FTII who were completely different from the previous heroes and they had some extraordinary talent which was both inborn, inherited and mostly imbibed by gurus of acting at the FTII.

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To add to these unusual heroes like Mithun Chakraborty, Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri and a whole lot of them there were some amazing actors like Amitabh Bachchan, Ajay Devgn, Akshay Kumar, Govinda and other young men like them who were like rebels in the world of Hindi Cinema. They neither had the looks, nor the other plus points that the heroes of the previous generations had, but they had that something special about them which attracted people towards them and soon they were the new heroes of a new generation and they ruled for many more years to come…


But, in the last few years the industry has seen and accepted common man heroes who could identify with the masses who saw them in their films and doing something very different and striking from all the previous heroes. And so we had this new brigade of not so good looking heroes but with lot of talent like Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan and then there was no stopping the influx of actors who could be men in the streets and among the many such heroes who made a very strong impact on cinema in India were Irrfan Khan, Rajkummar Rao, Ayushmann Khurrana, Nawazuddin Siddique, Karthik Aryan, Sidharth Malhotra and Pankaj Tripathi who though not a competition for these new heroes is considered for some of the most challenging roles can still be called a hero of the changing circumstances and times..


And it is while I thinking about all these different kinds of heroes, I must say that I am inspired to write this piece about heroes after reading a piece written by one more hero of this kind, whose name Prashant Gupta who has shown swags of billions in films like “Isaaq” and the recently released controversial film, “The Tashkent Files’ which has gained him recognition, appreciation and applause wherever the film has been released.

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His success has inspired him to write about his own experiences as ‘the new hero’ to inspire me to use his piece in this article which is not a complete picture of the heroes of today, but is very good to give a serious thought to the respected community of heroes.


Every now n’ then, a relative, friend or colleague would fondly address me as ‘oh hero’ or ‘aye hero’. Nothing new, it’s a common term of endearment in India. But now more than ever before, it brings a smile to my face because it reminds of what I experienced in my early days in Mumbai in pursuit of becoming the quintessential Bollywood ‘hero.’ I recall numerous occassions when ‘THEY’, the beauracratic (and apprenticed) gatekeepers would tell me, ‘yaar tere mein sab kuch hai par woh hero waali baat nahin.’ It was disheartening, but all the more confusing because I had been addressed as hero a thousand times already. How naive of me. It took many years for me to understand what ‘THEY’ meant. Retrospectively, i’m actually grateful to ‘THEM’ because I started working on everything I assumed they meant by ‘hero waali baat.’ And whilst I chiseled all those areas and prepared myself for the day bittersweet limelight would dawn upon me, not only did I come to realize ‘hero waali baat’ greatly meant which family you’re from, the size of your muscles, what you are willing to do or how much are you willing to pay. Beyond that of course was the ever so common, ‘yaar taqdeer mein hoga toh ban jaayega’!

But here’s the redemption … The puzzle of what ‘hero waali baat’ actually meant kept me alive and searching, and along the way the whole meaning of ‘hero waali baat’ kept changing! I guess that is why this place is called, ‘maaya-nagri’ – land of illusions. Turns out, my second guessing made me a first rate version of my optimum best and i’m no longer told ki ‘hero waali baat’ nahin.

P.S. I still don’t know what ‘hero waali baat’ means, i just know the search for it begins and ends within myself. The reality is, even ‘THEY’ don’t know what it means

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Tags: Bollywood, Bollywood News, Bollywood Updates, Television, Telly News, Heroes, Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor, Amitabh Bachchan, Bollywood Vetran Actor

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