New stars begin to shine in Bollywood

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The Independent Culture

New stars are emerging in Bollywood, with fresh talent currently more popular with cinema audiences and studios than established names as the industry hunts for a successful formula.

Ranbir Kapoor and Imran Khan, both aged 27, have starred in two of the most successful films of 2010 - "Raajneeti" (Politics) and "I Hate Luv Storys".

"Raajneeti" took 320 million rupees (6.8 million dollars) in its first week while "I Hate Luv Storys" took 790 million rupees, leading film critic and analyst Taran Adarsh said on www.bollywoodhungama.com.

Meanwhile, names such as Hrithik Roshan, 36, Abhishek Bachchan, 34, and his 67-year-old father, Amitabh, have suffered a slump, as studios count losses running to an estimated five billion rupees since the start of the year.

Roshan's "Kites" failed to live up to its pre-release hype while Abhishek's "Raavan", which saw the entire Bachchan clan turn out for the world premiere in London, including his wife and co-star Aishwarya Rai, also fell flat.

Even megastar Amitabh's underworld thriller "Teen Patti" (Three Cards), made little impact, despite an appearance by British veteran and "Gandhi" star Ben Kingsley, while the drama "Rann" (Battlefield) also failed to make waves.

Amitabh, or "The Big B", last week even admitted he had no current film offers, which had prompted him to return to television as the host of the Indian version of the popular quiz show "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?"

Advertisers have taken note of the apparent shift in Bollywood's demographics, which reflects a broader trend in the population. About a third of India's nearly 1.2 billion people are under 15.

Kapoor - star of last year's "Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani" (An Amazing Story of Strange Love) and "Wake Up Sid" - has been signed up as the face of Coca-Cola in India - a lucrative emerging market.

Leading studio Yash Raj Films has launched a new division to promote young directing, acting and scriptwriting talent.

Until recently, Bollywood relied on a handful of big name stars for box office success.

But that has been proven to be no guarantee, particularly when actors such as Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan have cut back their filming schedules, concentrating on one big film a year or projects through production companies.

Among the young upstarts, Kapoor and Khan have the perfect credentials for future success in Bollywood - most importantly they have one or more famous family members.

For Kapoor, it is his grandfather, the acting legend Raj, and father Rishi. Khan is the nephew of Aamir Khan.

Both Kapoor and Khan have said they are uncomfortable with being termed stars.

"I have seen the film world from very close quarters, as my family is in this business," said Khan. "I have seen tremendous highs and tremendous lows. It's a very uncertain place to be.

"Today, everyone is praising you but tomorrow if your film flops people will not even recognise you. So you have to be grounded all the time and work hard to prove yourself every day. I have a long way to go in my career."

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