'What’s in a name?' they say. Well, if you really want to know, ask the Hindi film industry. For many actors, a lot rides on the name of the character they play in a particular film, especially when it becomes something of a trademark.
Amitabh Bachchan, at one point, was better known by his hit screen name Vijay. Shah Rukh Khan played Rahul in six of his films while Salman Khan stuck to Prem in 12 projects. What’s more, now we hear that both the Khans will be seen as Rahul and Prem, respectively, once again, in their upcoming films.
While Shah Rukh is called Rahul in Chennai Express (CE), Salman will return as Prem in Sooraj Barjatya’s Bade Bhaiya. “Actors like to keep the same name in movies because they are associated with them. Even today, Vijay Dinanath Chauhan is a well-known screen name and is immediately linked with Amitji’s role in Agneepath (1990),” says trade analyst Komal Nahta, adding, “It also works for producers who want to keep naming the characters the same way because people connect some actors with certain names.”
Trade analyst Taran Adarsh agrees, saying, “The industry is a superstitious lot and they always look for ways and means to make their movies a success. So if a name works then people tend to keep using it because of the strong recall value.”
Ironically, from playing a 20-something Rahul in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1999), Shah Rukh will go on to play a 40-year-old Rahul in CE. SRK’s Rahul has always been the quintessential lover, whether it was playing a theatre artiste in Dil To Pagal Hai (1998) to a caring older brother in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (2001). On the other hand, Salman’s character Prem has remained young in most of his films. However, apparently in Barjatya’s next, he will be seen playing the elder brother.