SRK in 'Deewana'
SRK in 'Deewana'

This week, we have two different cine celebrities who were either born or who died in February. One is Raj Kanwar, who lived a rather short life (51 years) but has been responsible for calibrating the careers of quite a few young heroes who were introduced into the Hindi film industry in the 1990s and the new millennium. He died five years ago on Feb 3.

Names like Shah Rukh Khan and Priyanka Chopra who are household ones were his star candidates, apart from another model-turned-heroine Lara Dutta. King Khan made his debut as a hero with his ‘Deewana’, which had Rishi Kapoor and Divya Bharati, the mercurial young thing who was a hot property for a very brief period before death snatched her away.

The millennial kids would remember the string of hits from the above film rendered with gusto by Kumar Sanu (“Aisi deewangi…”, “Sochenge tumhe pyar kar ke nahin…”) and the lesser-known Vinod Rathod. Kanwar’s brand of filmmaking straddled various categories – remakes from southern hits (‘Laadla’, ‘Judaai’), ultimate uber macho films featuring Sunny Deol and Salman Khan (‘Jeet’) and mushy romantic ones like ‘Dhai Akshar Prem Ke’.

Known also for having many hit numbers in film after film of his, Kanwar faded away with a none-too-remembered film called ‘Sadiyan’, which incidentally was the launch pad for Shatrughan Sinha’s son Luv Sinha. This when his sister Sonakshi was also making her tentative forays into the celluloid world. 

Another highlight of Raj Kanwar’s filmography was that in one of his films ‘Judaai’ released two decades ago, Sridevi acted as the heroine for the last time before re-surfacing 15 years later with ‘English Vinglish’ (2012).  

This director averaged nearly a film a year till he faded away in 2010 – around 16 films in 18 years. Bhagwan Abhaji Palav, who died on February 4, 16 years ago has already been covered at length in an earlier column during his birthday in August last. 

Yet as a contrast, his long life of 90+ years, in which the last few were spent in abject penury and neglect is a sharp contrast to that of his junior contemporary who has left behind a legacy for his son to take up, already making his own presence in the industry. 

The sheer unpredictability and the elusive ring of success which every filmmaker seeks is a trend which continues till date, irrespective of the fact that technology and business formulae have enabled de-risking film projects to quite a large extent.