Remember Waqt (1965), Sholay (1975) and Amar Akbar Anthony (1977)? These have been some of the most popular Bollywood multi-starrers of all times. Over the years, several other makers adopted the formula. While some films went on to set the cash registers ringing at the box office, others sank without a trace. Of late, the trend of multi-starrers has surfaced yet again, as several films are exploring the age-old format.
Last year, films like Badlapur and Dil Dhadakne Do followed the multi-starrer route, which was joined by this year’s hit film, Kapoor & Sons. In the coming months, too, a number of big multi-starrers like Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, Udta Punjab, Housefull 3, Azhar, Rangoon, Dishoom and Rock On 2 will hit the screens.
“To start with, it (making a multi-starrer) is – and should be -- driven by the demand of the script. For multi-starrers, you have to have a larger-than-life vision, but it is not easy to make them. Every actor comes with his own mindset, but you have to take care of all of them and do justice to their talents. It is not easy to convince so many actors to act together in a film,” says director Anees Bazmee, who has helmed films like No Entry (2005), and the Welcome series.
Film-maker Sajid Nadiadwala, who has backed several multi-starrers like Judwaa (1997), Har Dil Jo Pyaar Karega (2000), and the Housefull series, says such films “infuse new energy” and pose a “new challenge”. “Creatively speaking, they give a different kind of kick. I have grown up watching multi-starrers at our family theatres,” he says.
Actors, too, don’t mind becoming part of such projects. “Things become more exciting [with multiple names in one film]. Until you work with other people, how will you grow as an artiste? I think that’s important. If I am an audience member, and I see a hero playing the protagonist in four films in a year, I will get bored,” says Varun Dhawan, who was last seen in Dilwale (2015), which also starred Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol and Kriti Sanon.
However, some makers admit that economically, multi-starrer often become “risky propositions”. “Financially, making such films are very expensive. So, film-makers have to be responsible and careful of what they are making,” says Bazmee. But Nadiadwala feels the audience should get value for money. “Even when I cast two heroes like Salman (Khan) and Sunny (Deol) in a film like Jeet (1996), Salman and Akshay (Kumar) in Mujhse Shaadi Karogi (2004) and Jaan-E-Mann (2006) or Shahid (Kapoor) and Saif (Ali Khan) in Rangoon, it excites the audience, and me, as a film-maker. But it is an uphill task to cast even two stars together (smiles). So, not many film-makers are able to pull it off.,” says Nadiadwala.
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