All of last year aspirants had a tough time. It looks like 2004 won’t be too kind to the wannabes either.
So far the newcomers who’ve been seen include Ajay Gehi who played the callow gangster in Vishal Bhardawaj’s Maqbool, and the four newcomers Gaurav Chanana, Shalini Pal, Kanchan Kaul and Arjan Bajwa who made a disastrous debut in Kuku Kohli’s Woh Tera Naam Tha. Udita Goswami who made her promising debut in Pooja Bhatt’s Paap isn’t exactly flooded with offers either.
All their careers have been effectually wiped off in one swift stroke. In fact one of the wannashines Gaurav Chanana gave up a thriving turn on television to pursue a career on the large screen. Like many of his peers from the small screen including Amarr Upadhyay and Aman Verma (huge TV stars in their own right) Chanana will now have to scamper back to the safety of the small screen for the succour of stardom.
Television or any other mediumm, the large-screen wannashines have a truly tough time ahead for themselves this year.
"No one is interested in checking out newcomers just to see if they’re good. A film with no stars gets no opening. I: Proud To Be An Indian which was a decent film with a good performance by Sohail Khan is a case in point," says Patna’s prominent distributor Roshan Singh.
Singh has a point. While the floodgates were opened to newcomers last year very few except John Abraham, Shahid Kapur, Lara Dutt, Priyanka Chopra and Anuj Sawhny got noticed. This year the torrent of newcomers will understandably be toned down to a trickle.
Sawhny who lost the best debutant award to Shahid Kapur at Screen feels newcomers will have it increasingly difficult.
"Even the star children are facing an acceptibility problem. We outsiders have it twice as tough. Audiences just don’t want to see new faces," says this gifted young Delhi actor who made his debut last year in two comedies Nayee Padosan and Fun2shhh and will now be seen playing the distinguished Girish Karnad and Waheeda Rehman’s grandson in a Hinglish film Arranged Marriage.
Sawhny has a point. Tanisha had a posh pedigree to prop up her starry aspirations. She’s actress Tanuja’s daughter and Kajol’s sister. Unlike Kareeena Kapoor whose ancestry helped her to bloom into a superstar Tanisha has been virtually wiped out of the turnstiles. Many high-profile debutantes of 2003, like model Aryan Vaid (Market) and star-son Zayed Khan (Chura Liya Hai Tumne) are struggling for survival.
In the coming months the fate of the new breed depends en masse on how debutants like Pooja Kanwal who’ll be seen in Rajshri’s Uff Kya Jadoo Mohabbat Hai, model Cleo Isaacs in Woh, Tarun Arora and Sheen in Sheen are accepted.
No one is looking at the impending newcomers as future stars. In fact two films slated for release in the coming weeks feature the respective producer’s mistresses as the leading lady!
Laughs Anuj Swahny, "At least we guys won’t be accused of being anyone’s mistress. For a rank outsider like me, the fact that I got nominated for the best debutant alongside other high-profile star sons and pinup stars is in itself an indication of how democratic the film industry has become. May the best man win!"