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Bollywood Blitzkrieg: Reel to real chemistry

By: Subhash K. Jha, IndiaFM
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Chemistry helps. And if Konkona is down with a viral fever, you can be sure Ranvir Shorey will follow suit. When John Abraham was knocked down with a viral flu last year, Bipasha Basu too fell violently ill.

They shared screen chemistry during Jism and never looked back. To their credit they never hid their feelings for each other. That's how sure they were their relationship would last beyond Jism (pun intended).

We saw it in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam where the real-life couple Aishwarya Rai and Salman Khan looked so compatible you wondered which came first: Saratchandra Chatterjee's characters or their celluloid recreation by the master creator Sanjay Leela Bhansali.

There's a magical mystical quality to the metamorphosis of a reel couple into the real. It happens in front of dozens and dozens of people in a unit. Quite often the onlookers see the love-spill much before the pair itself. This is what happened with Akshay Kumar and Twinkle Khanna during the long outdoors in Canada of their first film together International Khiladi.

Everyone could see the growing vibes between the two. By the time the film's outdoor was over, one more filmdom pair's future had been cemented. Who says marriages are made in heaven? They are quite often made on international locations! And they often out-last all the sardonic misgivings about movie marriages.

It's another matter that a large number of these outdoor liaisons end after the couple returns home to the respective spouses. But when the pair is young healthy handsome and single the on-screen chemistry results in an indelible compatibility. This was the case with Dharmendra and Hema Malini, one of the most endearing and enduring couples in showbiz.

They had a large number of films together and so many opportunities to get close, as they waited for the set to come alive. Recalls Kamal Haasan, "During the making of Raj Kumar Kohli's costume drama Raj Tilak, Sareekaji and I had fallen in love. We would arrive on time. And even before, knowing very well that there won't be anyone else on the sets . In this way we didn't only get the reputation of being punctual we also got to know each other better. So who says love makes a couple unprofessional towards their work?"

From working relationships to relationships that work... Almost every Ekta Kapoor soap engenders a real-life love story. So many TV stars have become real-life couples after working day-in and day-out on their roles.

Says a retired, now happily-married actress. "Working in close proximity, shooting together day and night the reel spills into the real. Before you know it, you're sharing more than just cordial vibes with your co-star. I've seen it happen to so many of my colleagues. I must confess the temptation to succumb to the dictates of your heart is very strong, specially when you're away on an outdoor location. In an alien territory you tend to drop your defenses, loosen up and share confidences. One thing leads to another. Before you know it you return home as a real-life couple." But does the reel-into-real link-up help a film? Not really!

Recently some clever strategist insinuated that there was more than meets the hype between 'serial kisser' Emran Hashmi and Celina Jaitley during an outdoor in Mauritius. The loose talk didn't help the film one bit. Celina was hopping mad, spewing venom at whoever had planted the story and wondering who could be responsible.

Did she need three kisses....I mean, guesses? Often it's the male half of the on-screen pair that comes back with these tall tales of romance from the great big outdoors. "Don't write this," he'll whisper into your burning ear, meaning please be my guest. "But Y and I had an X-rated time in South Africa."

So how do we tell the hoax link-ups apart from the genuine stuff? It's quite simple, really. The ones that out-last the making of a film are the one worth focusing on. When Sunil Dutt rescued Nargis from a screen-fire in Mother India he also rescued her from an emotional crisis that threatened to destroy her emotional equilibrium.

This is how one of the most perfect Bollywood romances was born while a classic called Mother India evolved. When Jaya Bhaduri looked shyly into the timid Amitabh Bachchan's eyes for the first time in Ek Nazar, she knew this was the man with whom she wanted to spend the rest of her life. And she did.

Strange, how certain films come to be associated with specific real-life couples and the history of their togetherness. Sometimes the film's intrinsic excellence far exceeds the fame that it acquires through its lead pair's friendship. This was the case with Sunil Dutt and Nargis in Mother India and Salman-Aishwarya in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam.

But who remembers Ek Nazar as anything but the film where one of Bollywood's most stable couples met?

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