Dream Pair : Hero Hunt - Tollywood is desperately seeking the next stars.

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By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 18.06.08

What will it take to be the next big thing in Tollywood? Shah Rukh’s appeal, Hrithik’s moves and Aamir’s acting for starters? hmmm, with no such one in sight, t2 goes on a manhunt in the studios...


The hero has to be a bit of everything, says Mahendra Soni of Shree Venkatesh Films. Chocolatey yet rough-and-tough, boy next door yet an angry young man.

“GenX is conscious of itself and the hero should be able to represent GenX. When we cast Jeet in Saathi we wanted the poor guy look in him. He has an emotional face,” says Soni, who had launched Jeet six years ago.

Looks don’t matter much for producer Pijush Saha, who believes “the story is the star” and showcased his recent find Soham in Bajimaat two Fridays back. Saha decided on Soham, who was once a child artiste, after auditioning 10 boys.

“I needed an actor who would look like the boy next door. A hero with an image wouldn’t have sufficed. Soham plays a Class XI student in the film, who has failed several times and gets regular thrashings from his father. I couldn’t possibly take Jeet and show him as a schoolboy being beaten up by his dad!” laughs Saha.

T Sarkar Productions is launching new face Arindam in its next venture. “We feel the audience has got tired of seeing the same old faces. Arindam had done the Oriya version of the Prosenjit-Anubhav-starrer Kali-Sankar,” says Vinayak Sarkar of T Sarkar Productions.

Will their experiments pay off? Well, let’s wait and watch.

The magic formula: It’s the overall package for Soni. “Looks, acting skills, fitting the role and the right attitude,” he spells out.

For Saha, the real hero is one who a mother can identify as her son and a girl can dream of as her lover.

“A hero may not have all the qualities. Some may be goodlooking, others may have towering personalities. Think Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan. Also, a hero must know a bit of action and dance. But one can be groomed in these aspects. At the end of the day, a hero must know how to act in front of the camera,” sums up Saha.

Sarkar stresses a combination of looks, luck and smartness. “Someone like Shah Rukh Khan. He’s got the looks, he is very smart and he is lucky.”


Prabhat Roy believes some are born stars, while others can achieve stardom through extra effort. Whichever way, the hero has to have a magnetism about him. “Something which Uttam Kumar had. Dedication and proper grooming are the next important factors,” says the man who launched Roopa Ganguly, Rituparna Sengupta, Priyanka Trivedi and Tota Roy Chowdhury.

Haranath Chakraborty, who made a star out of Jeet in Saathi, swears by talent. “A hero must have the potential so that the director doesn’t have to spend too much time on him. But most importantly, the audience should be able to identify with him.”

Ravi Kinnagi, whose Premer Kahini released in April, adds: “One needs to evolve as an actor. When Ajay Devgan was launched, he wasn’t one of the good-looking heroes. But his acceptability grew with time.”

The magic formula: “The romantic soft look is out. The angry young man rules. A mix of both is the best. Plus, the screen presence of Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan,” muses Prabhat Roy.

“Looks, a flexible body and 25 per cent acting skills,” says Haranath. “Luck and the right attitude,” feels Kinnagi.


The wannabes


Dev: Has done two films in the past two years, I love You and Premer Kahini, both love stories produced by Shree Venkatesh. I Love You was a major hit, Premer Kahini has done well but not better than his debut.


Hiran: This chocolate-boy hero debuted in Haranath Chakraborty’s Nabab Nandini last year. The film did average business and Hiran is on to his next project, Bhalobasha Bhalobasha, by Ravi Kinnagi.


Soham: Is camera-savvy, having been a child artiste. He worked opposite Koel Mullick in the Rituparna-Babul Supriyo-starrer Chander Bari last year. Bajimaat, his first film as hero, is drawing full houses over the weekends.


“Dev can only go through the acid test once he works outside the Venkatesh banner. His only hit so far is I Love You. Soham has played the hero in just one film and so has Hiran. They have to be given more time,” says Prabhat Roy.

“Soham knows how to face the camera. Both Dev and Hiran are suitable for action and romantic roles,” feels Haranath.

“All three — Dev, Hiran and Soham — will have to remain as dedicated as they are to be the next big hero,” says Ravi Kinnagi.

“Soham has acting sense. But in the long run, I think the fight for the number one slot will be between Dev and Hiran,” predicts director Anup Sengupta.


What Jeet feels

Talent is the most important thing. I think the new heroes also need to develop their PR skills and should learn to promote their films.

Promising face: Dev. I have watched him in I Love You and he is good. He looks good on screen but it’s too early to comment on his acting.... I think Soham and Hiran have got good reviews too.



Viewers’ choice

Pinky Bhattacharya, 29, a computer teacher in a south Calcutta school, likes a mix of macho and chocolate-boy looks. Toned body and good height are very important, but if one meets the other requirements (read twinkle toes), then height is immaterial (think Aamir Khan). “Heroes should be able to dance well. The Tollywood heroes look appalling when they shake a leg in garish costumes on those tacky sets,” says Pinky.

Her pick: “Dev looks okay. I haven’t seen Hiran yet.”

Sonia Banerjee wants Tolly heroes to turn out in style, both on and off screen. “They should discard their orange shirts and blue pants... A toned body is desirable, not necessarily like Salman Khan’s but maybe at least Riteish Deshmukh,” says the 28-year-old schoolteacher.

“Besides, they should be more realistic in their acting and must not overreact. Less melodrama will work wonders for our heroes.”

Her pick: “Jeet has a good height and he looks better off-screen.”

Prosenjit’s tips

Hone your acting skills.
Maintain yourself.
You must make the people living in the suburbs feel you are part of their family.
Understand how our film industry works, its economic structure.
Shoulder responsibility for both success and failure.
Keep good relations with the industry people.



t2 wish list:

1 LOOK SMART: He must know how to carry himself. Must have a good sartorial sense. Must not look or act kyabla. For god’s sake, let him be close to the kind of young Bong men we often meet these days — witty and well-groomed.

2 BE FIT: He should not — repeat not — have a paunch. Rambo biceps or Salman six pack is not what we fantasise about, but we definitely want our screen man to be in fine fettle. Only if he is fit and strong can he move from the boardroom to bedroom to battleground with ease.

3 WALK WELL: He should walk like a man — let’s face it, very few members of the male species do. His gait will mirror his state of mind and body.

4 TALK WELL: His dialogue delivery should be real, not over the top and jatra-like.

5 DANCE WELL: His moves on the dance floor must be cool not comical, sexy not stupid.

Kushali Nag