The battle of the Haryanvi protégés...

By Subhash K. Jha, IANS

imageMumbai, Sep 17 (IANS) Looks like Mallika Sherawat isn't the only one to put Rohtak on the Bollywood map. Two other upcoming actors, both protégés of Ram Gopal Varma, also hail from the dusty Haryana town.

Randeep Hooda was in the news for his gritty performance in "D", and Mohit Ahlawat is all set to whip up a sensation in the new release "James"!

So what do Varma's two Rohtak protégés have to say about each other? Though they claim to be friends, there's a definite undercurrent of rivalry between the maverick producer's two blue-eyed boys.

"And why should that be so?" reasons Randeep. "We're two individuals with different goals and dreams. Though we don't meet that often we're warm to each other whenever we do. There's absolutely no sense of competition with Mohit. We're friends. As far as I know he's being prepared to be what they call a masala all-rounder star. I am more an actor's actor."

Adds Mohit, "Randeep and I know each other. You cannot say we're friends. We don't meet socially. He's busy with his life and career, and so am I. There's no time to feel competitive. We both have our space."

And now that Mohit will share screen space with Abhishek Bachchan in Varma's "Sholay" while Hooda gets left out, the latter definitely has reason to feel threatened. It's almost like Manoj Bajpai's status in Varma's camp after Vivek Oberoi sauntered in.

Varma says Mohit would be more in the league of Shah Rukh Khan and Hrithik Roshan. Doesn't that make Randeep envious? "Not at all! Why should it? My aspirations as an actor are different."

At the moment it's hard to say who should feel more threatened. The hawk-eyed producer is pleased as a punch with his Randeep and has already signed him for another film called "Shock".

Says Varma, "Randeep is the kind of rare actor that comes along once in a while. What people have seen him do in 'D' is just the tip of the iceberg...As for Mohit, wait and watch.'

One thing is for sure, Randeep and Mohit are bound to feel as threatened by each other as Varma's earlier protégés...Manoj Bajpai and Chekravarthy, Aftab Shivdasani and Fardeen Khan, Vijay Raaz and Rajpal Yadav, Vivek Oberoi and Antara Mali...

Advantage Mohit: Married. And married heroes from Dev Anand, Raj Kapoor and Rajesh Khanna to Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan and Hrithik Roshan are better welcomed by audiences.

Advantage Randeep: Sushmita Sen supports him to the hilt, and is even producing a film for him. And you have to admit she is far more attractive than Varma.

Advantage Mohit: He's an all-rounder. He can dance, fight, emote and chuckle on screen. A veritable all-in-one. Randeep is a method actor. It's the difference between Amitabh Bachchan and Naseeruddin Shah.

Advantage Mohit: The lucky letter 'M'. The last successful hero with an R-factor was Rajesh Khanna. Does anyone remember Rahul Khanna in "Elaan"?

Advantage Randeep: He's signing cautiously. Has said no to several offers. And is looking at offers outside. Mohit is affiliated only to Ramu.

Advantage Mohit: He is malleable in personality. Randeep is deeply focused and hard to shake in his faith.

Advantage Mohit: He's eligible for all the newcomers' awards this year. Randeep spoilt it for himself by doing "Monsoon Wedding" long before "D".