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By: Screen Weekly, IndiaFM
Monday, November 05, 2007
From Dara Singh to six-pack SRK, here"s a look at the dare-bare male torso on the silver screen
Hrithik Roshan may well be the contemporary Greek God, but Dara Singh holds the distinction of playing the maximum Greek characters in Hindi cinema from the mythical Samson and Hercules to the historical Alexander (Sikandar-e-Azam, 1965). Singh"s ascendance and acceptance creating a fan following of his own in numerous solo leads happened at a time when the ideal hero material was defined by sensitive and slimmer romantics like Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand and Bharat Bhushan or the corpulent but agile Kapoors - Raj and Shammi. Needless to add, while the latter never showed skin, Singh didn"t mind reducing to his briefs in two Tarzan films and as the original Bahubali - the most favoured on screen Hanuman in the myriad takes on Ramayan - a role he successfully repeated well past his prime in Ramanand Sagar"s popular 1980s" TV series on the epic.
Showstoppers: Veer Bhimsen, Hercules, Tarzan and King Kong, Sikandar-e-Azam, Boxer
From one Punjab da puttar to another; if Singh"s brawn bravado was limited to B-grade flicks, Dharmendra brought it into the mainstream hero"s repertoire with his shirtless swagger in Phool Aur Patthar (1966). The film"s famous scene of a drunken shirtless Dharmendra hovering over a sleep feigning Meena Kumari in restrained anticipation ranks amongst the all time top sexually charged scenes in Hindi cinema. As regards his brawn impact, it"s best summed by dream girl Hema Malini"s oft quoted first reaction on seeing Dharmendra, “I had never seen a more handsome man in my life before." The son of the soil"s rugged brawn appeal lay in his naturally sculpted body, not any artificially customised gym trained six packs. Indeed, they don"t make it like him anymore.
Showstoppers: Haqeeqat, Phool Aur Patthar, Sholay, Dharam Veer, Razia Sultan
The seventies popularity chart at the top may have swung between the romantic Rajesh Khanna (who later developed a slight paunch) and the angry young man Amitabh Bachchan, but Vinod Khanna easily topped the torso chart when it came to having a fit body and flaunting it to the full. Remember the fight in the dust between Amar (Khanna) and Anthony (Bachchan) in Amar, Akbar, Anthony (1977). For once the voyeur"s gaze strayed and stayed beyond Bachchan on the fast climbing challenger to the action hero mantle. While the lanky Bachchan rarely shed cloths in front of the camera apart from those rare bare-chested shots in bed with Parveen Babi in Deewar or Rekha in Silsila, Khanna continued his bare show well past his prime in that infamous soaked shower lip lock with a shivering nubile Madhuri Dixit in his comeback hit Dayavan (1988).
Showstoppers: Mera Gaon Mera Desh, Amar Akbar Anthony, Rajput, Kshatriya, Parampara
Long before the Bollywood baba-wagon had begun hitting the gym with a vengeance as a launch essential and when other star sons were still lanky debutants (Kumar Gaurav, Sanjay Dutt) he was launched with a well proportioned physique, riding on sheer brawn bravado in Betaab (1983), thus making him a 'fit" heir to Dharmendra"s action hero mantle. As the vest became his trademark attire through an action filled eighties and nineties, the audience not only cheered but sincerely believed when he talked about the breaking impact of his 'dhai kilo ka haath" in Damini. Undoubtedly one of Bollywood"s best biceps till date!
Showstoppers: Kshatriya, Ghayal, Narasimha, Ghatak, Gaddar Ek Prem Katha
Sanjay Dutt-Jackie Shroff
One of the first hunk pairs from the muscled nineties, they started lean but beefed up their act as per the need of their times, well past their youth to extend their box office run as leading action heroes. Little wonder, their best brawn moment onscreen happened nearly a decade after their hit launches, when pitted opposite each other in a hand to hand combat in full physical glory in Khal Nayak (1993) long before the mock WWF fights had become a raze on TV.
Sanjay"s Showstoppers: Sadak, Yalgaar, Khal Nayak, Daud, Vaastav
Jackie"s Showstoppers: Gardish, Rangeela, Aar Ya Paar, Mission Kashmir, Agni Varsha