ENTERTAINMENT  :   Bollywood : In Focus

Chotta cameo, bada naam

Saturday , 05 December 2015

We take a look at the history of Bollywood cameos and how they have affected, both, the concerned star and the film

Cameo appearances in films are as old as Bollywood films themselves. And everyone might not realise this, but, these cameos can do big wonders for a movie. In recent times, we have seen cameos that seem to be included just for the sake of it, in so many flicks—but, that doesn’t take away from the fact that a well-written and well-placed cameo can serve both the star and the film well. Here’s a closer look at Bollywood’s cameo connection:

The director’s cut

Years ago, before “cameo” was a popular term in Bollywood, showman Subhash Ghai made cameos a part of his signature style. The director has made special appearances in all his films. His cameos can be seen as the beginning of a trend that is still a rage in the industry. Inspired by Ghai, many directors like Karan Johar, Farah Khan, Farhan Akhtar, Anurag Kashyap and Sudhir Mishra followed suit.

Item number

Be it Kashmira Shah’s ‘Jawani Se Ab Jung’ from Vaastav or Maliaka Arora Khan’s ‘Chaiyya Chaiyya’ from Dil Se, item songs can prove to be the highlight of a film. There was a time in Bollywood when struggling female actors danced in item songs in an attempt to leverage their careers in Bollywood. A steamy song has contributed to a rise in the career graphs of many. This trend benefited not just struggling actors, but also those trying to make a comeback in the industry. The ‘item number’ bug later bit A-list stars in Bollywood and a once shunned activity was transformed into a more widely accepted one.

Friendly favours 

After this, friendly free-ofcost appearances became the next cameo trend in Bollywood.  Films like Heyy Babyy had 21 stars (at least 17 of whom made special appearances); Om Shanti Om featured a whooping 30 Bollywood celebs in the song ‘Deewangi Deewangi’; and Luck By Chance contained 22 guest appearances. All of these were done free-of-charge. Even biggies like Aamir Khan, Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan joined the cameo bandwagon.

Actors appearing as themselves

Over the years, Bollywood stars have realised that it might be more valuable to do a five-minute role of some substance rather than a large part in a two-hour-long film that fails to leave much of an impression. Cameos can provide films with a boost; it’s exciting for audiences to see an unexpected familiar face appear on the screen.

It’s particularly exciting when an actor plays a version of himself or herself in a walk-on appearance in a movie. Consider the recently released The Shaukeens, in which Akshay Kumar appears as himself in a short cameo. The Khiladi Kumar even cracks a few jokes at his own expense. It’s this tongue-and-cheek, sometimes self-deprecating, definitely self-aware, element of parody that tickles audiences. Everyone’s in on the joke. Here are some other Bollywood actors who’ve appeared as themselves in cameos, in the past:

— Bombay Talkies, a film that celebrated 100 years of Indian cinema, saw Amitabh Bachchan make a special appearance as himself in Anurag Kashyap’s ‘Murabba’. The same film also saw Katrina Kaif make an appearance as herself.

— Ranbir Kapoor has done many cameos. One of his first ones in which he played himself was in Bhoothnath Returns. The film, which starred the Big B as Bhoothnath, saw the young Kapoor promote the importance of voting.

— Salman Khan appeared as himself in Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani. The lead actress, Katrina Kaif, is portrayed as a Salman Khan fan in the film and hence, the appearance. Salman played the part with the same style and panache that we associate with the ‘real’ him!

— It wasn’t just an itty-bitty cameo, but an entire dance sequence for the song ‘Baawre,’ that Hrithik Roshan appeared as himself in, in Luck By Chance. The film also featured cameos by other Bollywood celebs including Rishi Kapoor, Dimple Kapadia, Juhi Chawla, Sanjay Kapoor, Shahrukh Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Ranbir Kapoor, Abhishek Bachchan, John Abraham, Rani Mukherjee and Aamir Khan.

— ‘Shahrukh Bola Khoobsurat Hai Tu,’ starring Preetika Chawla, Afzaal Khan, Kay Kay Menon and Nagesh Bhonsle, contained a good 20-minute appearance by Shahrukh Khan. This included two songs, with one song sung by him. The film went a step further, by featuring him in two of its official posters.

— In ‘Andaz Apna Apna’, Juhi Chawla made quite a mark when she played a version of herself. In the film, the actress’ car breaks down, and seeing her, Aamir Khan’s character exclaims, ‘Aila, Juhi Chawla!’ We’re sure that audiences still remember the scene vividly! That, as well as Govinda’s appearance in the film, where he plays a version of himself acting opposite Juhi Chawla.

No look at cameos in Bollywood is complete without a mention of Guddi. In the film, Jaya Bachchan’s character falls in love with Dharmendra, who plays himself. Dharmendra arranges for Guddi to visit his movie set and introduces her to some big-name actors like Ashok Kumar, Pran and Amitabh. Older readers will remember how thousands of Dharmendra fan girls lived vicariously through the character of Guddi!