The glamorous and the intense, the star and the actor, the reigning heartthrob and the quiet performer... filmmakers are trying out unusual pairings in the belief that opposites will attract.
Sample Akshay Kumar-Chitrangada Singh, Irrfan Khan-Priyanka Chopra or Abhay Deol-Sonam Kapoor. Thanks to experimental scripts and adventurous filmmakers, these unconventional pairs will soon be seen on the big screen.
Mix and match
While Singh of Hazaaron Khwaishen Aisi fame has been paired with actor Kumar in Rohit Dhawan’s Desi Boys, offbeat actor Khan and Bollywood’s glamour girl Chopra will be seen together in Vishal Bharadwaj’s Saat Khoon Maaf.
Deol, known for his many experiments with unconventional cinema, will rub shoulders with Kapoor in Aisha. Another unusual pair, soon to grace the silver screen, will be Ajay Devgn and Kangana Ranaut in Ekta Kapoor’s forthcoming underworld drama, Once Upon A Time In Mumbai.
According to film critic Omar Qureshi, directors opt for such unusual pairs due to a lack of big-ticket stars in the Hindi film industry.
"There are just a handful of big stars and directors are bound by their their busy schedules. These days, scripts give directors the freedom to experiment," Qureshi says.
"Now people are looking for performances in films. Star value is not the only USP of the movie, unlike earlier when we mostly saw fixed pairings of Dharmendra with Hema Malini and Amitabh Bachchan with Jaya Bachchan."
Last year, when National Award-winning actress Konkona Sen Sharma was paired with Bollywood heartthrob Ranbir Kapoor in Wake Up Sid, critics were sceptical. But the fears were unfounded as the crackling chemistry between the lead pair struck an instant chord with audiences.
"Konkona was perfect for that role. It demanded someone who did not look like a typical teen but was mature, unlike the slacker played by Ranbir," recalls film critic Anupama Chopra.
Filmmakers have tried to mix and match earlier, though not always with commercial success. Irrfan’s pairing opposite Lara Dutta in Billu was rejected by audiences. But his chemistry with Tabu in Mira Nair’s The Namesake was applauded.
"There is a dearth of saleable stars in Bollywood, which produces more than 200 films in a year. With casting, the choice usually boils down to the four Khans (Shah Rukh, Salman, Aamir and Saif), Hrithik (Roshan) and Abhishek (Bachchan) and the top four heroines (Katrina Kaif, Priyanka Chopra, Kareena Kapoor and Aishwarya Rai)," explains Chopra.