Who’s Who in Bollywood: The Men

Apparently, I’ve been spending way too much time in front of the computer, so I’ve been cutting back. In surfing’s stead, I’ve been reading quite a few magazines and newspapers, which, around here, are chock full of entertainment news. In fact, one of the “hard” newspapers, The Times of India, had as an international headline, “Billy Joel weds 23-year-old fiance.” McCauley Culkin’s drug bust was also front page “international” news. There’s more than 1 billion people in this country, and more than 5 billion in the world and they lead with that?! Thank god I can read the New York Times online.

Alas, I’m not opposed to entertainment news. Not at all. In fact, I’ve come to love the Bollywood rag Filmfare (full disclosure: Filmfare is a subsidiary of The Times of India group…no wonder that paper’s so flimsy!). In the month or so that I’ve been here, I’ve tried to get some of the main Bollywood actor’s squared away in my head so if I do ever decide to go see a Hindi film, then I’ll know which stars to look for. In the interim, I’ve made a sort of personal scorecard.

The following is an abridged, slightly uninformed, and biased guide to some of Bollywood’s stars. First up, the men:

1. Amitabh Bachchan
Nickname: “One Man Industry,” among others…
Hit Films: Zanjeer, Sholay, Aetbaar (saw this on the plane)
Most Resembles: the offspring of a lioness and Papa Smurf
My Take: The Donald Sutherland/Kirk Douglas of the Hindi Film Industry,
Bachchan’s career has spanned decades but he may eventually be outshined by
his handsome son, Abishek. Looked coolest in the 70s, but today’s current
look of mismatched black hair/white beard win him points in my book.

2. Shah Rukh Khan
Nickname: King Khan
Hit Films: Darr, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai
Most Resembles: Antonio Banderas meets Judd Nelson
My Take: The most recognizeable B. star outside of India. Charmingly cocky, good-looking, and an excellent singer/dancer, but ubiquitous, so I find him pretty boring.

3. Saif Ali Khan
Nickname: Saifu
Hit Films: Hum Tum, Kal Ho Na Ho
Most Resembles: kd lang meets Steven Segal (yet somehow cute)
My Take: Apparently, he’s been trying to breakthrough as a leading man for
years. Now that he has, he’s left his wife and kids and become a big ad
whore (Lay’s chips, cell phones, you name it). One of his ads is for Royal
Stag, some mystery product (to me) with a jingle so catchy, I want to kill
myself.

4. Salman Khan
Nickname: Sallu
Hit Films: Phir Milenge, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam
Most Resembles: a brooding Stanley Tucci with hair
My Take: Billed as a sort of Johnny Depp/Sean Penn type and considered difficult to work with. Recently quoted as saying, “I feel most comfortable with my shirt off.” Some modesty please.

5. John Abraham
Nickname: “The Hunk”
Hit Films: Jism, Aetbaar
Most Resembles: a Chippendales dancer
My Take: Abraham’s name comes from his Portuguese-Indian background. Like Salman Khan, also seen often without his shirt. He’d most certainly be a gay pin-up in the U.S. or Europe.

6. Sanjay Dutt
Nickname: Sanjay Baba
Hit Films: Mission Kashmir, Rocky (apparently he was in it!)
Most Resembles: Peter Sellers on a good day, Roy (of Siegfried fame) on a
bad day
My Take: Rumored to be in cahoots with the Bombay Mafia. Persona seems sleazier than Mickey Rourke’s. I think Dutt’s currently in a Max Max-esque type film, and his look in the movie gives me the willies.

7. Hrithik Roshan
Nickname: Duggu
Hit Films: Kaho Naa…Pyaar Hai
Most Resembles: Adrian Zmed meets Frank Stallone
My Take: His cheese factor lies in his looks.

More star assessments later…