by Subhash K Jha
It's a free show-world out there. If an insider like Ranbir Kapoor got optimum ovation, so did a rank-outsider like Ruslaan Mumtaz.
Yes, Ruslaan's mom is an actress. But did that qualify him as a star-kid? Baffling!
If the year will be recalled for any one reason by the Indian entertainment industry it would have to be the startling profusion of new faces, male faces to be more precise. For some inexplicable reason the male faces far outdistanced the female ones in terms quantity and impact.
The year's first release Manish Jha's Anwar gave us the first male debutant Siddharth Koirala, Manisha Koirala's sibling whose belated debut made zero impact at the boxoffice.
Maybe the timing was wrong.. A week later came the year's first female debutant Shanon Eshrecowitz scooted down from South Africa to star opposite Govinda in Salaam-e-Ishq...and disappeared just as fast.
American actress Ali Larter fared no better with Salman Khan in Marigold. Character-actress Maya Alagh's daughter Anjori made her debut as a gold digger straight out of a Sidney Sheldon novel in Life Mein Kabhi Kabhie was interesting, period.
Neither debutante got audiences on their feet.
Model Karan Hukku who played the cad in the love story Kya Love Story got swept away in the Aishwarya-Abhishek wedding. His film released on the day of THE wedding.
TV star Shabbir Ahluwalia made a nominal impact in the macho bang-bang actioner Shootout At Lokhandwala. Leaving Ekta Kapoor's Balajee stable is never a good idea.
But the 10-year Sweeni Khara in Cheeni Kam, Dwij Yadav in Nanhe Jaisalmer, Shreya Sharma in The Blue Umbrella and and at the end of the year Darsheel Safary in Tare Zameen Par proved to be the biggest scene stealers of the year.
Moral of the story: child actors today can give their grown-up co-stars a run for their money.
Jiah Khan will remain the only debutante in the history of our cinema to make her debut as the post-60 Amitabh Bachchan's co-star. Strangely she remained largely unemployed after Ram Gopal Varma's Nishabd though she performed with telling vivacity.
Sayali Bhagat in The Train was Emran Hashmi's zillionth smooching partner. Mrinalini Sharma playing the tough role of the villain's captive mistress in Awaarapan also tried to shine opposite Emran who incidentally is rapidly becoming the Rishi Kapoor of our times for pairing with the maximum debutantes.
Last year he smooched Kangana Ranaut to fame. If only wishes were smooches.
Debutante Hazel paled in comparison with her self-assured co-star Ruslaan Mumtaz, son of character actress Anjana Mumtaz in Pehla Pehla Pyar.
Hansika Motwani who over-emoted her way through Himesh Reshammiya's debut in Aap Ka Suroor also made very little impact.
Himesh, of course, had the crowds jumping to their feet. Just goes to prove, 2007 was the year of the male newcomers. A week after Himesh and Hansika Urvashi Sharma paired opposite two fairly saleable co-stars Akshaye Khanna and Bobby Deol made no impact in Naqab.
Tu cheez badi hai mask mask????
Does Ruslaan qualify as a star-son? If he does then it only to prove pedigree pays in the entertainment business.
Ranbir, Raj Kapoor's grandson who also happened to be the amazing-in-their-own-right Rishi Kapoor –Neetu Singh's son, blew the screen apart in Saawariya while his co-star Sonam Kapoor carried her heritage as the diligent Anil Kapoor's daughter, lightly on her shoulder.
Deepika Padukone in Om Shanti Om made her pretty debut opposite Shah Rukh ...no less. She promises to grow into substantial talent in the near future.
Ah, promises promises.
Again Neil Mathur-Mukesh who gave a fairly competent performance in Johnny Gaddar was an industry insider while Muzammil Ibrahim in one of the most powerful roles written for a leading man in 2007 in Dhokha came in from the cold.
Neil, needless to say, has a headstart.
Naseeruddin Shah's son Imaad had an interesting screen presence in Dil Dosti, Etc. But the constant harping on smoking pot and scoring with girls in the plot gave out wrong signals. And the less said about Gautam Gupta in Go (gone!)than better.
A special word for all the girl hockey players in Chak De India specially Shilpa Shukla.They showed a spunk and spirit that made them instant 'heroes'. But again I didn't see them getting anywhere past the goal post.
Undoubtedly the debutant of the year was Ranbir Kapoor. The boy can do practically everything,and effortlessly.
If as Karan Johar says Hrithik Roshan raised the bar for newcomers Ranbir swings across that bar like a monkey which knows all the tricks and is clever enough to make the swing look like a bird's flight.