If the Kapoors are known for their great Punjabi looks and flamboyant style of acting, the Chopras are famous for their romantic capers and star making abilities, the Barjatyas for their family pack films, the Roshans for scaling new creative and technical heights and the belligerent Bhatts for their realistic cinema with a dash of glamour...these are families that have shaped and contoured the film industry. They have given the industry producers, directors, music directors and actors for generations together. They have changed the face of Indian cinema. A quick recap...
The first film family, the largest and longest-surviving lineage, the Kapoors have ruled each decade in filmdom. Way back in the 1920's Prithviraj came to Mumbai from Peshawar during the silent era. His magnificent persona and colossal histrionic talent won his stellar roles in black-and-white silent films and talkies - he was in India's first talkie Alam Ara, he essayed the title role in Sikander and did Mughal-E-Azam.
Unlike his father who played larger-than-life roles, Raj preferred to essay the common man in his films. The vagabond in Awara, the small-town man who flourishes into a card hustler in Shree 420. The showman as he was known by his films about youthful aspirations launched his own RK studios with Aag in 1948. He ruled the industry with human dramas like Barsaat, Chori Chori , Sangam and Mera Naam Joker, Prem Rog and Ram Teri Ganga Maili. Most deservingly, he was awarded the Dadasaheb Phalke Award.
Shammi was the Elvis Presley of Bollywood, his playboy image had a winning run in the '50s and '60s with Tumsa Nahin Dekha, Junglee and Teesri Manzil.
Romantic Shashi was the busiest actor in the '70s and '80s. He worked in multiple shifts in blockbusters like Kabhi Kabhie, Deewaar, Trishul and Kranti. He was the first Indian star to crossover to British and American films like Householder and Siddhartha. He produced his brand of films under his banner Filmvalas, like Kalyug, 36 Chowringhee Lane and Utsav- which were all critically acclaimed.
From the third generation, Randhir Kapoor sparked briefly in Kal Aaj Aur Kal , Jawani Diwani. His directorial venture Henna. Rishi burst upon the scene with the teen romance Bobby in '73, and he continued to romance pretty heroines on screen well into the late '90s. He was rightly hailed as the forever-youthful. Rajiv, the youngest of Raj's sons debuted in Ek Jaan Hain Hum and then directed Prem Granth for the R K banner.
The fourth generation of Kapoors was, surprisingly headed by Karisma and Kareena, because acting was considered a taboo for Kapoor women. They broke all the barriers and flaunted their glamorous personae. Karisma's Raja Hindustani, Biwi No. 1, Dil To Pagal Hai and Zubeida depicted the range of her acting. Kareena's attitude combined with her dazzling glamour make her a strong contender for the numero uno spot - with topping projects like Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham..., Asoka, Chameli and Omkara.
Ranbir, the latest entrant is Rishi's younger son. He debuts in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Saawariya, the first of Sony's Indian productions.
From Lahore to Mumbai, their's is the success story that continues to lure hordes of Punjabis to filmdom. Baldev Raj Chopra, a film journalist, turned a filmmaker then formed his own production house B R Films in 1955 with Ek Hi Raasta. He handled women's issues through his films and added hits to his kitty with Gumrah, Dhund, Pati Patni Aur Woh, Insaf Ka Tarazu and Nikaah. Keeping up with the changing times, he ventured into tele-serials with Mahabharat, the mythological serial with his director-son, Ravi Chopra.
Ravi, on his part had earlier directed films like Aaj Ki Awaz. He returned to the silver screen with Baghban, penned by his octogenarian father. He made Baabul recently and then released the colorised version of his father's Naya Daur.
Ravi's son is said to be training in the wings to take off as a director very soon.
Lahore-born Yash Chopra joined his elder brother B R as an assistant director in Mumbai. He directed his first venture, Dhool Ka Phool for his brother and with his Waqt he unleashed the power of multi-starrers.
In '71, Yash setup Yash Raj Films and made Daag under his banner. Reflecting the angst of the frustrated youth of the '70s, he made Deewaar. Forging ahead with the lavish family drama Kabhi Kabhie, later with Chandni, he had chiffon-draped heroines epitomise his films. So much was his penchant for shooting in the scenic Swiss locales that the Swiss Government has even a lake after him!
Yash is everything his films aren't. Glamour and opulence may be the mark of his films, but personally he's simple and easy-going that it is hard to believe that he is the high priest of romance. The septugenarian last directed a cross-border romance Veer Zaara.
His elder son, the reclusive Aditya Chopra, made the most of his marketing savvy in tranforming Yash Raj Films into an entertainment conglomerate. Adi also made the longest running Indian romance Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge before tapping the youthful zest of fresh directorial talent. Like his father, he's produced some big money-spinners with new directors viz. Hum Tum, Dhoom and Bunty Aur Babli. He seems to have inherited his father's Midas' touch.
Yash's youngest, hunky Uday acts mostly in home-banner films. His comic caper in Dhoom turned out to be his ticket to fame.
In film parlance, the combination of a director, music director and hero is considered to be a complete package deal. Well, the Roshans are just that and much more. Something that Senior Roshan may never envisaged as a struggling music director back in the late '40s. Roshan struck big-time in the '50s with his scores based on Indian classical melodies. Na to karavaan ki talaash hai ... (Barsaat Ki Raat), Jo vaada kiya woh nibhana padega ... (Taj Mahal) and Laaga chunari mein daag ... (Dil Hi To Hai) are cult songs from some of his ageless scores. Roshan however, never compromised on quality and retained the purist vein in his music.
His son Rakesh acted in about 70 films but it wasn't until he launched his banner Filmkraft and began making films did he come into his own. Rakesh realised the lucky charm of the alphabet 'K' much before Ekta Kapoor or Karan Johar. All his films necessarily begin with K - from Khudgarz, Kishen Kanhaiya, Karan Arjun, Kaho Naa ... Pyaar Hai, Koi...Mil Gaya to it's sequel, Krrish. Aap Ke Deewane, his first production, was perhaps the only exception to his K-fixation of titles.
Rakesh has innovated in terms of stories, locations and genres. Krrish, the first sequel of modern times, started a whole new avalanche of sequels.
His brother, Rajesh shot to fame with his westernised score in Julie. Unlike his father, Rajesh is heavily influenced by Western music and he considers his fusion scores his forte. He usually gives music to his brother's films. Rakesh's light-eyed, eleven-digited son struck the silver-screen like a bolt of lightening. Industrious and talented, Hrithik started off as his father's assistant reading out dialogue sheets to artistes in Karan Arjun and Koyla. At the turn of the century, he debuted as the hero of Kaho Naa.. Pyaar Hai. Since then, he's considered an A-list actor. He acquires a new skill for nearly every film of his, like martial arts for Krrish, military stances for Lakshya and the latest dance techniques for Dhoom:2. He has sustained chronic injuries, thanks to his obssession for doing his own stunts in films. He didn't hesitate playing negative characters in Mission Kashmir and Fiza at the beginning of his career. Never to get trapped in an image, this new age actor has now donned the majestic avatar of Akbar for his latest venture, Jodhaa Akbar.
The Roshans are linked to another big film family of Feroz and Sanjay Khan through Hrithik's marriage to Suzzane, the daughter of veteran actor-filmmaker Sanjay Khan. By far, he's the most promising and inventive of the new crop of actors. Incidentally, he inherits the musical talent of his grandfather and he can play any musical instrument by sheer instinct!
V. Shantaram used the film medium as an instrument of social change, an achievement for someone who wasn't well-educated. He began working in the theatre as a curtain-raiser and then graduated to acting. He directed his first film Netaji Palkar. Along with four partners, V G Damle, KR Dhaiber, S Fatelal and S B Kulkarni, he formed the Prabhat Film Company.
His Hindi debut was Duniya Na Mane (Kunku in Marathi) about a young woman refusing to get married to an older man. Aadmi (Manoos in Marathi) was a love story between a policeman and a prostitute and Padosi was about communal harmony.
He started Rajkamal Studios and made notable films like Dr Kotnis Ki Amar Kahani, Dahej, the dance epic Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baje and Do Aankhen Barah Haath and Navrang.
He launched his daughter Rajashree in Geet Gaya Pattharon Ne. Rajashree had a brief but good run in commercial cinema. Brahmchari , Janwar and Shehnai were her celebrated films.
Shantaram's son Kiran made a Marathi film titled Zunz and now manages Rajkamal Studio. He was once the Sheriff of Mumbai. He also organises film festivals in Mumbai. His son Chaitanya debuts as a director with Marathi film Isshya starring Ankush Chaudhary.
Dare To Differ
Back in the '40s this enterprising Gujarati youth began making films and he never stopped untill he had a huge tally of over a 100 films to his credit which mostly included mythologicals like Lakshmi Narayan, Lav Kush, Ram Janma and Janmashtami.
His sons Mahesh and Mukesh aspire to be as prolific as their father. Mahesh started off assisting the legendary Raj Khosla before wielding the baton himself, highlighting social issues through personal narratives like Arth, Naam and Zakham. Mahesh's younger brother worked earlier as a secretary to the late Smita Patil. After Smita's demise in 1986, Mukesh didn't want to continue as a secretary. He told his elder brother his secret desire of starting a production company. Mahesh was encouraging. That's how Mukesh launched Vishesh Films in 1986. Since then the brothers have been making films at frenetic pace - Sadak, Ghulam, Raaz and Murder are their all-time major commercial hits. Theirs is a synergy of Mahesh 's creativity and Mukesh's business acumen. Together they rock the box-office. Currently, Mahesh has taken to penning films. This one-time Osho devotee has renounced film direction completely.
Mahesh's daughter Pooja Bhatt had a successful run as a matinee idol in films like Dil Hai Ke Manta Nahin , Junoon , Sadak Chahat, Tamanna and Zakhm before she debuted as a director with Jism. She makes films under her banner Fish-Eye Network. Her brother, Rahul, makes his acting debut soon, while Mukesh's son Vishesh has joined father's business.
Way back in 1930, an inconspicuous lad peering through the walls of a film studio became a stage hand, actor, camera assistant, director, producer and finally an industrialist - L.V.Prasad. He founded the Prasad Group in the year 1956 by starting Prasad Productions and produced over 26 feature films mainly in Hindi, setting standards and values that still continue to exist in today's films. Sharda, Beti Bete, Chhoti Behen, Sasural, Milan, Raja Aur Rank, Jeene Ki Raah, Khilona and Ek Duuje Ke Liye were some of his memorable jubilee hits.
In 1965 Prasad Studios was established to provide the post-production facilities to the film industry. Led by his son Ramesh Prasad, an engineer educated in the USA, a film processing unit in Chennai was set up in 1976.The Prasad Film Laboratories, Chennai is a Kodak Imagecare certified lab for negative processing.
L.V.Prasad's grandson Sai Prasad, also an engineer educated in the USA, joined a little later to make the group look towards the digital future of cinema. Thus the group expanded its reach into the digital domain and very soon strongly entrenched itself by starting Prasad Video Digital and then EFX. Today the services offered by the group spans the entire gamut of film post production - Film Processing, Digital Intermediate, HD Post, Film Restoration, Telecine, Audio, Video, NLE, Reverse Telecine, Visual Effects, Equipment Hire, Film Production, Entertainment Centre, Multimedia, and more through its facilities in India, Singapore and United Arab Emirates.
Going beyond this Prasad Group opened its multiplex, Imax theatre and Mall in Hyderabad in 2003. In a short span of time it has become 'the happening place' in Hyderabad. '
The Government of India released a Commemorative Postal Stamp in the memory of L.V.Prasad, a Dadasaheb Phalke awardee in 1982.
Theirs is such a traditional set-up. Their joint family business of films is as old as this nation - it's also sixty. But the Barjatyas have no qualms about their old-fashioned morals and dressing styles. Unlike the rest of the film industry in hot pursuit of modernity, they stick by their values. Sixty years ago, 19-year-old Tarachand Barjatya lay the foundations of the Barjatya empire as he launched Rajshri Distributors. He successfully distributed Southern and Hindi films and in 1960 he added a film production wing. Starting with Aarti, they have consistently made films based purely on Indian themes. Uphaar, Tapasya, Geet Gata Chal, Chitchor, Sawan Ko Aane Do and Saraansh share some of the films produced by Tarachand and his three sons, Kamal Kumar, Rajkumar and Ajit Kumar. Rajshri Productions is synonynous with wholesome entertainment.
In the '80s, Sooraj R.Barjatya, young scion of the family, took the box-office by storm with his platonic love story Maine Pyar Kiya, which inspite it's all-new cast won the hearts of the viewers. Sooraj repeated his magic with Madhuri Dixit in Hum Aapke Hain Koun, which was a jubilee hit. In times of home video-viewing, it drew audiences back to the theatres. His third venture, Hum Saath Saath Hain, a modern retake of Ramayana worked wonders too. Sooraj's last film Vivah, about the gossamer romance of a just-engaged couple won a grand applause, reiterating their belief in clean narratives and melodious music.
Rajshri ventured into television production few years ago with Woh Rehne Wali Mehlon Ki. The TV division is helmed by young Kavita, the niece of Sooraj. Rajshri Media, dealing in online broadband video stores and Wap store on mobile phones is headed by Rajjat, another family member.
From distribution to multimedia, Rajshri has spread its wings without compromising on their values. Without succumbing to market pressures of voyeurist demands, they continue churning out neat and clean products.