IIPM : EXECUTIVE EDUCATION
When Jeetender jump-started a one-of-a-kind family saga...
In the biggest Bollywood blockbuster of the year, Om Shanti Om, King Khan played a junior artiste who was able to fulfil his dream of being a superstar in his next life when he was reborn in a filmstar’s home. Consider a more realistic version now, the life of one of India’s biggest superstars Mr. Ravi Kapoor, aka Jeetendra aka Jeetender. He started off as a junior artiste and devoid of any support from the big shots in the industry, he struggled for years and ultimately managed to get the world at his feet, all in the same lifetime. His two children have done him proud too, for while Ekta sits pretty as the ‘K’ween of the telly, Tusshar’s carving his very own position in Bollywood too.
Jeetender started his career in the 1950s when V. Shantaram gave him a chance as Sandhya’s double in Navrang. Intuitively judging his true calibre, Shantaram gave him his first big break in the film, Geet Gayaan Patthron Ne, in 1964, but it was with Farz that he really came into the limelight and cu-cuckooed into the hearts of his fans. Flaunting some truly fly dancing moves in Mast Baharon Ka Main Aashique, Dhal Gaya Din and Kitna Pyara Vaada, he soon earned the appellation of the Jumping Jack. While the audiences were going gaga over his dance, his trademark white tee-trouser and shoes made him the new style icon.
Stardom brought with it name, fame and many gorgeous dames. He moved out of the chawl to a posh house in south Mumbai’s Colaba area. But all of this did not change Jeetender’s love for his childhood companion, Shobha. He promised to marry Shobha if Bidaai, a film which came to him literally as a life saviour, did well. On October 31, 1974 Jeetendra and Shobha tied the knot and Bidaai went on to celebrate its golden jubilee. This was just the beginning of a long journey of about 200 films. Jeetendra had all that it took to become the No.1 hero; his films consistently achieved commercial success and he became one of the most bankable actors though that didn’t help him impress the critics much.
He always played characters that held on tightly to their middle class values and were hence mighty close to his heart. He also experimented with some serious cinema and acted in movies like Gulzar’s Parichay, Khushboo and Kinara, where he sported a bespectacled look. While these films won him many accolades and much respect in the industry, he chose to work mostly in more commercially viable films like Judaai, Asha, Pyaasa Sawan, Maang Bharo Sajna and Ek Hi Bhool. This was followed by Deedar-e-yaar, his home production co-starring Tina Munim and Rishi Kapoor, which sadly turned out to be a complete setback for Jeetendra.
But like they say, no one can keep a good man down for long. At this juncture, he signed many films with Chennai-based filmmaker T. Rama Rao, that paired him up with Rekha and eventually all of them turned out to be big boxoffice draws. This made him an instant hit with the masses and marked the ultimate high point in his career. But with his astounding success came a lot of criticism too for taking up films like Himmatwala, Mawaali and Tohfa, where he was paired with Sridevi.
Looking back, Jeetendra says he has worked hard to be where he is today. He didn’t have a film background nor did he have a godfather in the industry. He had to go through a lot to feed his family. “It was sheer hard work, passion and the zing-thing called luck, which helps you achieve something in life. But then when I look at today’s youngsters, who are much more passionate and focussed, I feel I haven’t done anything in life.” His daughter, Ekta Kapoor, who along with mum Shobha is running the shots at Balaji Telefilms – which revolutionised the Indian TV industry – and son Tusshar Kapoor, who won acclaim for his performances in films like Khakee and Shootout at Lokhandwala – where he played the role of the real-life gangster Dilip Buwa – have most definitely given their father reasons to feel proud.
But then is it any different for a star son or daughter? “No, not at all, contrary to popular belief, things have not been very easy for these star kids,” says Jeetendra. “Being from a film background doesn’t really help one in making it big in the industry.” He questions, “Can I put creative inputs for Ekta? Can I make Tusshar dance like me? It’s ultimately your talent and your own hard work which helps you succeed in life. Being a celebrity son or daughter sets certain parameters and these expectations make it very difficult for the kids. It burns my heart to see my child work so hard. We started off from a chawl with very little money but my children got all the pleasures of life. In spite of a lavish life, Ekta has struggled and lived a very hard life. She had operated from the garage in our house for more than six years. And you must understand that she didn’t have to do all this... They could have chosen to live a comfy life.”
Tusshar agrees, “Family legacy surely makes getting an entry into the film industry easy but after that you are on your own. Eventually you are judged on your own merits and what comes your way is based on your own credentials. It cannot make your movie do well. Ranbir was a star son and gave a great performance in his debut film but then did that make his film do well?” He also feels that media is kinder to underdogs and is comparatively harsher to star kids. “Thankfully, I was never really compared to my father, probably because I have a different personality and have played roles very different from what he has played in the past. Could be also because audience never really had any expectations from me. I think the audiences are very clear of what Tusshar Kapoor is all about,” he sums up. And that probably makes his life easier and free of the towering shadow of the ‘great’ within the family.
Piercing through the silhouette of their predecessor’s success, this new generation of the Kapoors have surely taken that one extra step to raise the bar really high for their future generations and this is what makes them very special in their own rights. On being asked if this is another Kapoor dynasty in the making, Jeetender is prompt to answer, “Oh they are a huge dynasty and as far as we are concerned, only time can tell.” True, it is difficult to predict what the future holds but for now, this family epitomises success and believes that legacy is not all about what one is born with but what one makes of its blessings.
B&E edit bureau: Prasidha Menon
For more articles, Click on IIPM Article.
Source : IIPM Editorial, 2008
An Initiative of IIPM, Malay Chaudhuri and Arindam chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist).
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