By: Reshma Kelkar, IndiaFM
Monday, August 21, 2006
'To achieve great things we must live as though we were never going to die.' The idea behind this thought is that if you want to be successful in your life then go ahead without losing hope. This thought perfectly suits our Bollywood associates, who began their career as the main protagonist but ended up playing second fiddle to someone else.
A lot of actors in Bollywood tried their luck in solo lead films but when they failed to make it, they discovered a new image for themselves. They joined the second lead league. In fact this image was quite safe in Bollywood from the beginning itself. Second lead characters serve at a subordinate capacity to the leading man of the film. He is the one, who helps to progress the film by playing equally important character.
Nevertheless, the second lead was never considered as an impractical decision for an actor. Rather most of the actors of the 70's have played second fiddle in movies. Let us begin with Shashi Kapoor, who appeared mostly in multi starrer films. Playing the second lead was never an issue for him. In fact most of his hit films (esp. with Amitabh Bachchan) saw him in the second lead. Films like Deewar, Trishul, Suhaag, Do Aur Do Paanch and Silsila helped him to survive in the industry. Similarly other actors like Vinod Khanna, Shatrughan Sinha, Mithun Chakravarty and many more moved on to become stars themselves.
Who could be a better example than Amitabh Bachchan himself, who did not start out too well and played second fiddle at the initial stage of his career. Babumoshai from Anand was one of his most memorable characters. Reshma Aur Shera and Namak Haram followed and even in the comedy caper Bombay To Goa though he could be technically tagged as the hero, he still was a second fiddle to the legendary comedian Mehmood. After that he moved on to become a super star in Bollywood.
However, the definition of second fiddle actors varies from actor to actor and their films. This status has been popular in the industry as most of the actors opted for the same. Feroz Khan started his career as a second lead in his first film Didi.
Similarly Manoj Bajpai's role in Satya was a second lead but interestingly the impact of his character was such that Bhiku Mhatre literally outshined the title character of Satya and automatically it turned out to be a lead character.
This trend became popular only when the second fiddle was considered equally important to the leading man. And Amitabh Bachchan was benefited by the same. He played second fiddle to Dharmendra in Sholay. Jai happens to be one of the most memorable performances by Amitabh Bachchan that he played at a time when he was ruling at the number one position. But it only added to his repertoire.
Correspondingly there are many Jais in Bollywood, who became popular because of their role. Saif Ali Khan was one of them. Initially when he was not doing well, he moved on to play second fiddle to Akshay Kumar in movies like Main Khiladi Tu Anari and Yeh Dillagi. When their chemistry clicked he never looked back. Even today if he plays a supporting actor in the form of Langda Tyagi, he is as good as the main lead Omakara.
Anil Kapoor appeared in second fiddle in movies like Biwi No. 1, Mann and Taal. No other conventional actor would have done it. Anil was one of the established stars, who went for this. This ploy worked and Anil walked off with Filmfare's Best Supporting Actor award for Taal.
Same with Riteish Deshmukh, who failed to make it big thorough his solo lead debut, Tujhe Meri Kasam. So he started doing multi starrer movies. Riteish confesses, "I can't afford to make a film, so I have to do roles which are offered to me." He first did Mr Ya Miss then he played con man in Bluffmaster. Though it was a second lead but he played an important part in the development of the story. Rimmi Sen agrees with Riteish's statement and feels that multi starrer films are safe. It doesn't matters whether the role is second fiddle to any actor or actress. She opts for any interesting role that comes her way. She did Kyon Ki because it was a Priyadarshan film.
However, everyone had their own reasons for doing second fiddle roles in movies. Most of the actors accepted these roles because they were offered second leads only. Sometimes these characters were parallel to the main lead or equally important to develop the plot of the story, which attracted actors to opt for second fiddle.
Actors like Jackie Shroff, Chunky Pandey and Mithun Chakravarty accept such roles just because they have passed the age where they can run around trees or outsmart a dozen bad men. Moreover, they are getting second character roles that grow with the development of the plot.
Arshad Warsi has his own views. He says, "The concept of heroism is getting out and we're becoming more character-oriented. I have done brilliant roles despite them being second lead, some of which I have personally chosen." His roles in Munnabhai MBBS, Salaam Namaste and Maine Pyaar Kyon Kiya were equally enhancing if not more than the main lead. Arshad feels satisfied to walk the extra mile. Arshad had a dream debut in Tere Mere Sapne and a string of flops subsequently. This new found image has created a space for him.
Not only actors but actresses too opt for second lead and most of them have become establish actresses subsequently. Rani Mukherji is one of them. Her debut film Raja Ki Aayegi Barat failed to click at the box-office. Later Kajol recommended Rani for a second lead role in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and after that Rani never looked back. Karisma Kapoor's role in Dil To Pagal Hai gave a boost to her career. Even actresses like Neha Dhupia and Sushma Reddy feel that a second lead character is like a challenge and it's up to an actor on how beautifully he or she portrays it.
Minissha Lamba is a new entrant in this league. She played second fiddle to Bipasha Basu in Corporate. Says the actress, "I know I am a new comer. I want to work with big actors in my films. So it's obvious that if I work with them, then I am not going to have the biggest role. You have to have the reality check also. I can't be floating on cloud nine and say no. One's expectations have to be realistic. You can't measure the role through dialogues or scenes. It's not a question of length, but how much you want to be a part of the project."
Actors have their own reasons to join this new league. Needless to say Hindi films are changing for the better as actors are set to make new convention in the industry.