They are the uncrowned kings of the box office. Yet, for their releases in 2014, some of the industry’s biggest superstars — Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Akshay Kumar and Ajay Devgn — are finding it hard to pair up with the top female actors.
Aamir Khan is an exception (working with Katrina Kaif in Dhoom:3 and Anushka Sharma in P.K.). But it seems the other big guys will only be working with newbies.
"Where are the female actors?" asks producer Ramesh Taurani, who has cast Tamannaah Bhatia in the Akshay-starrer It’s Entertainment. He adds, "Since there are only a few top female stars, it’s difficult to match their dates with male stars." Trade analyst Amod Mehra says,
"Ego issues also crop up, and top male stars don’t want to share credit with big female actors."
What are top heroines up to?
Kareena Kapoor: Post-Satyagraha (upcoming; opposite Ajay Devgn), she teams up with Imran Khan for the Karan Johar production, Gori Tere Pyaar Mein.
Katrina Kaif: Her next is Yash Raj Films’ Dhoom:3 with Aamir Khan, followed by the Hrithik Roshan-starrer Bang Bang.
Deepika Padukone: Post-Chennai Express, she will be seen with Ranveer Singh (Ram Leela), Ranbir Kapoor (Imtiaz Ali’s untitled next) and Arjun Kapoor (Finding Fanny).
Priyanka Chopra: Her next is the Zanjeer remake with Ram Charan Teja. She will then be seen in Gunday (with Ranveer and Arjun), the biopic on Mary Kom, and Milan Talkies (with Imran).
New co-stars: Daisy Shah, Sana Khan (Mental); Jacqueline Fernandez (Kick)
For debut actresses, Salman is considered to be jinxed — Sonakshi Sinha being the only exception. The list of debutantes with failed careers is long: Bhagyashree (Maine Pyaar Kiya; 1989), Nagma (Baaghi; 1990), Chandni (Sanam Bewafa; 1991), Sneha Ullal (Lucky: No Time For Love; 2005) and Zarine Khan (Veer; 2010). Salman will be seen with Daisy and Sana in Mental, and Jacqueline bags Sajid Nadiadwala’s Kick.
Our take: Whatever film he touches turns to gold. Does a famous heroine really matter?
Shah Rukh Khan
New co-stars: Ankita Lokhande (Happy New Year)
Shah Rukh has a terrific track record with debutantes — Shilpa Shetty (debuted in Baazigar; 1993), Deepika Padukone (debuted in Om Shanti Om; 2007) and Anushka Sharma (debuted in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi; 2008). Talks are rife about his next co-star in Farah Khan’s Happy New Year, for which Ankita’s name is believed to be "almost confirmed". Although SRK and Farah are yet to officially announce this signing.
Our take: Thanks to SRK’s popular romantic image, heroines end up getting more than their fair share of the limelight.
New co-stars: Tamannaah Bhatia (It’s Entertainment); Shruti Haasan (Gabbar)
Akshay has a history of launching newcomers. He helped Katrina Kaif’s career with hits like Humko Deewana Kar Gaye (2006), Namastey London (2007), Welcome (2007) and Singh Is Kinng (2008). Recently, he worked with Kajal Agarwal (Special 26) and Asin (Khiladi 786; 2012 and Housefull 2; 2012). He now teams up with Shruti in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Gabbar and with Tamannaah in Sajid-Farhad’s film.
Our take: Akshay’s screen presence seems enough to work wonders at the box office.
New co-stars: Yaami Gautam, Manasvi Mamgai (Prabhudheva’s next)
He started his film career with fellow newcomer Madhoo in Phool Aur Kaante (1991). Years later, he launched Kajal Agarwal in Rohit Shetty’s Singham (2011), followed by Tamannaah in Himmatwala. Now, he will be seen with Vicky Donor (2012) actor Yaami in Prabhudheva’s next action film. If reports are to be believed, beauty pageant winner Manasvi will also be launched in the same film.
Our take: With Ajay’s action-star image, once again, female actors have little to do in his films.