Time is the emperor. And when it comes to Bollywood royalty, they too must bow down to the vagaries of time irrespective of fame, fortune and everything else that comes with it. And yet the silver lining for the megastars could be that most of them have had the privilege of padding up to play for a second innings.
If the ’70s were heaven career-wise, for Amitabh Bachchan, the ’80s were not too bad, but the ’90s were a complete washout. However, after being ridiculed and much-maligned during his down phase with films like Ajooba and Indrajeet, Amitabh Bachchan was once again in huge demand post-2000 with films like Mohabbatein, Aks, Sarkar, Paa and a series of films that established him in a senior genre.
Anil Kapoor was no different — after a dream run during the ’80s and ’90s, Anil hit a low patch post-millennium from which he resurfaced in 2008 with Slumdog Millionaire and a series of roles in Hollywood such as 24 and Mission Impossible 4 that made him a recognisable face in international cinema.
Rajesh Khanna, when he was alive, similarly had a budding second innings with films like Avatar and Thodisi Bewafaii in the Eighties. And Shabana Azmi who ruled parallel cinema in the 1970s went through a low patch in between before she had a second innings with Godmother of 1999 and with her senior roles in the new wave of cinema in this country (Loins of Punjab, Dus Kahaniyan etc).
So, what were the reasons that these actors (and some others such as Naseeruddin Shah) have seen a second lease of life in their careers? Film author Dinesh Raheja says it it because of the ability to adapt well to changing circumstances. “There’s a new method of filmmaking in this country and they have been able to successfully adapt to it. Amitabh, for example, has been part of successful films right from Prakash Mehta to Rakeysh Mehra. He’s very adaptable and can bridge the generation gap sensationally well. In that sense he’s not a fad, but a phenomenon.”
Raheja points out that the some actors on the other hand find it impossible to outgrow their mannerisms and tend to fade out with changing cultural trends.
Film analyst Indu Mirani has a varied interpretation of this second lease of life. “There are two things — firstly the audience wants them back because of their combination of great acting ability and unparalleled charisma. Secondly when they return they’re not hankering for the teenybopper things they did at the height of their fame. They usually return in senior roles or in roles that are different. If you ask me of a prime example of this then it is none other than Mithun Chakraborty who is in his fourth innings with the South Indian films he’s doing now!” says Mirani, adding that while the actors’ subsequent innings may not be as momentous as the height of their careers, it’s a time when they can afford to experiment with different kinds of roles.
Numerologist Bhavikk Sangghvi looks at this from a perspective of luck and good fortune. “Second lease of life can happen to people in all professions provided their destiny number is synchronous with the number that rules their profession.”