The Delhiwala superstar
As HT City turns 15, Akshay Kumar, who has also obliged with a special shoot, says, "I congratulate the team of HT City for completing 15 years and wish them all the luck for future."
The 46-year-old says that he is proud of Delhi’s increasing presence in Bollywood. "Delhi is one of the most amazing places to shoot in. I’ve shot many films here from Boss to Special 26 and now, Baby. In fact, films are named after the city: Delhi 6, Challo Delhi,” he says, adding, “Considering that it’s the Capital of our country and so many important people also stay here, they still have the kindness to allow us to shoot here. It’s very topical as when you talk about politics, issues, etc, it becomes a reference point. I’ve had the best experiences of my career filming here. Proud would be one word.” Since he has been in the industry for a long time, what are the changes he has observed? “Some of the things which have changed are technology and screenplay. For instance, the technology that we use has revolutionised filmmaking. The business has become huge. People have started taking risks on the screenplay,” he says.
We take a look at 15 Delhi-grown Bollywood celebs, who’ve not only given us a reason to smile, but also added a filmy twist to the Capital curry
Brought up in the busy streets of Delhi’s Chandni Chowk, this Delhi lad has a bevy of hits including Hera Pheri (2000), Dhadkan (2008), Aitraaz (2004), Singh Is Kinng (2008) and OMG – Oh My God! (2012) to his credit. The 46-year-old even shot several of his films including Special 26 (2013), Boss (2013) and Holiday (2014) in the city. Talking about his love for Delhi, the Khiladi Kumar says, “I am a Delhiite through and through. I had the most adventurous childhood here and I feel, here I ate the best food, too, like a king, in my beloved old Delhi’s bylanes.”
After graduating from Kirori Mal College, Bachchan Senior has risen to be one of the biggest names not only in India but also across the globe. The 71-year-old Bollywood superstar has not only been vocal about his experiences in Delhi, but many of his films also showcase the high points of the city.
"I have spent so many years in Delhi. I think after the age of 14, I spent all my years here ... And it’s always a joy to be back ... Now of course, my daughter is married here, so I have other reasons for being here as well," says Big B.
The formative years of Sasha’s life were spent in Delhi and he misses the city immensely. The 33-year-old, who has donned versatile characters in his films including Jab We Met (2008), Kaminey (2009), and R… Rajkumar (2013), went to Gyan Bharti Public School in Saket.
He might have moved to Mumbai, but Delhi remains an important part of his life. “I miss Delhi. I spent my childhood here, had a big family here, but I don’t come often now,” says Kapoor.
It is said that Anurag Kashyap came to the Capital with dreams of pursuing a career as a scientist, but the city, instead, introduced him to the world of theatre and filmmaking. The 41-year-old director-producer, who fondly remembers his graduation days at Hansraj College, is known for his off-beat movies like Dev D (2009), Gulaal (2009) and Gangs of Wasseypur (2012).
“I was in a boarding and whenever I had free time, I used to roam around Miranda House and Jesus and Mary College. I loved the University days. My world started to open up from there. I started watching cinema there,” he quips.
SHAH RUKH KHAN
It is safe to say that Shah Rukh Khan is one of those who Delhi is truly proud of. Known as the King Khan of Bollywood, the quintessential loverboy is popular for his romantic avatars in films like Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995), Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998) and the more recent Jab tak Hai Jaan (2012).
The St Columbus boy often speaks about his days in Delhi, which were before he achieved his super stardom. This 48-year-old, who graduated from Hansraj College, says, “I miss my college buddies and the fights that would take place in the college hostel."
A proud graduate from Miranda House, Mira Nair has proved her mettle through her genre of off-beat cinema and has even made a mark in Hollywood. The 56-year-old is known for her crossover films like Salaam Bombay! (1988), The Namesake (2006) and the more recent, The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2013). “No matter where in the world I am, Delhi is one place I always come back to, not only because this is where my parents are, but also because this city holds some very special memories,” she says.
This 43-year-old maverick filmmaker, who could well have been in front of the camera, was introduced to theatre during his college days at Hindu College. Known for thought provoking cinema, his noteworthy films include Jab We Met (2007), Love Aaj Kal (2009) and Highway (2014). The filmmaker has also captured the nuances of the city in many of his films. “I miss the life that I used to live in North Campus. With so many friends around, I was always at home. I miss the Delhi food, especially the street food,” says Ali.
This filmmaker moved to Delhi for his undergraduate education and it was here that he discovered himself. He started as a small-time musician in Delhi and went on to compose songs for Bollywood. As a director, he has delivered some blockbusters including Kaminey (2009) and Omkara(2006). The 49-year-old task master attributes his success to the formative years he spent in Delhi. “It was in Delhi where I got a taste of metropolitan life, and my life changed. I made new friends and discovered myself here. Coming to Delhi was the turning point of my life,” he reflects.
Brought up in Delhi, this actor-filmmaker is known for her off-beat choices in Bollywood. Known for her stellar performances in films like Fire (1996) and Earth (1998), Das also directed the award-winning film, Firaaq (2008). During her undergraduation and post-graduation days, she got introduced to acting. “I would finish my classes at the University and go straight to learn Odissi dance, and then to the street play rehearsals with Safdar Hashmi and others in Jan Natya Manch,” says the 44-year-old.
A true blue Dilli ka munda, Sidharth Malhotra became a household name right after his first film, Student Of The Year (2012). This 29-year-old admits to experiencing the first whiff of freedom in the Capital. “One of the best memories about Delhi was college (Shahid Bhagat Singh), when Dad gave me permission to use his car… we were so excited, me and my friends took turns with it. College days in Delhi were like that freedom you get sometimes… hanging out in Saket and PVR area, bunking classes… it was all fun,” remembers Malhotra.
An alumni of Delhi University’s Hindu College, this chiseled lad has made the city proud through his versatile body of work. Seen in films like Housefull (2010) and Ra.One (2011), the actor misses the Capital for its food and the wonderful memories it gave him. “I was a regular at the St Stephens College cafeteria, which has the best cutlets,” says the 41-year-old, who even owns a popular resto-pub in the city. Looking back at his college days, the model-turned-actor says,“I loved to hang out around the ridge area and loved the omelettes over there.” His stellar act of a guitarist (Rock On!!) won him the National Award.
KONKONA SEN SHARMA
Agraduate of St. Stephen’s college, this Bengali beauty has often gone on record to talk about how much she misses Delhi. The 34-year-old, who has proved her acting prowess in films like Omkara (2006), Life In A…Metro (2007) and even National Award-winning regional cinema, attributes her craft to the days she spent in college. “I picked up the nuances of the job while acting for the College’s dramatics society,” says Koko.
Born and brought up in Delhi, Huma Qureshi got introduced to theatre here. After moving to Mumbai six years back, this Dilli ki kuddi came to limelight with her performances in Gangs Of Wasseypur (2012), D Day (2013) and Dedh Ishqiya (2014). The 28-year-old says, “Delhi means home, childhood memories, school, college, bunking, foggy winters, amazing street food, shopping, friends … it means all my formative memories. Delhi has made me ME."
RAKEYSH OMPRAKASH MEHRA
Born and brought up in Delhi, this behind-the-lens genius has fond memories of the city. The director, who has made a significant dent in Hindi cinema through his films like Rang De Basanti (2006) and Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2013), has captured the intricacies of the city in most of his films. “I love Delhi. It’s the place I grew up in and have deep attachment to. I may have to be in Mumbai for work, but I want to die in Delhi. All my stories are drawn from my life here,” says the 51-year-old.
Delhi holds a special place in this 29-year-old's heart. Known for his roles in films like Kai Po Che! (2013), Shahid (2013) and Queen (2014), he spent some of his most memorable years in Delhi. “It's been a while since I came to Mumbai for work but Delhi always makes me nostalgic, instantly. I’d take the Haryana transport bus to Delhi from Gurgaon every day as AC buses hadn’t started then. I'd observe people on the bus and write down their characteristics,” recalls the National Award-winning actor.
(Text: Debasmita Ghosh, Medha Shri Dahiya and Anjuri Nayar photo: Raajessh Kashyap/HT)