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Bollywood's kingmakers

It takes more than just talent and hard work to make a present-day film star. An army of professionals, including stylists, managers and make-up artists work diligently to turn an actor into a brand

bollywood Updated: Jul 15, 2013 18:06 IST
Hindustan Times

It takes more than just talent and hard work to make a present-day film star. An army of professionals, including stylists, managers and make-up artists work diligently to turn an actor into a brand. Prashant Singh takes a look at the professionals who work tirelessly behind-the-scenes

Drooled over Sonam Kapoor’s nath (nose pin) at the Cannes red carpet or Deepika Padukone’s sizzling avatar in Cocktail? Then you have stylists (personal stylists and those who work on films) to thank. The tribe is responsible for a modern-day star’s sartorial statements. So don’t be surprised to hear names like Pernia Qureshi, Rick Roy, Shalini Mehta, Tanya Ghavri and Niharika Khan more frequently in the coming days.

On the job: “It’s always great fun to shop with someone else’s money, with the only hitch that the clothes won’t reach your place (laughs). For styling, the first and foremost rule is to know the actor inside out before starting. Sometimes, stars also come up with their inputs, which are always welcome as long as they are for betterment,” says well-known stylist Anaita Shroff Adajania, who has worked on films like Dhoom 2 (2006), Love Aaj Kal (2009) and Cocktail (2012).


Whether it’s 15 minutes of fame (read Shera in Salman Khan-starrer Bodyguard) or personal attention from their star bosses (Akshay Kumar celebrates his bodyguard Sri’s birthday with gusto), some would think their jobs are envious, as they are always close to the much-revered Bollywood stars. And if you are lucky enough, a star will also gift you an expensive apartment (reportedly, in 2009, Shah Rukh Khan gifted his bodyguard Yaseen a flat in Bandra as a wedding gift!).

On the job: “Even though we are always with a big star, it has never made us feel powerful in any way. It’s our job. Everything goes smoothly unless some fans irritate you. For instance, they don’t leave Salman bhai even after having clicked pictures with him. We ensure we never lose our cool. Salman bhai tells us to be extra careful with kids and women,” says Shera (his real name is Gurmeet Singh) who has been the actor’s bodyguard for 15 years now.

Brand managers
These days, stars end up earning fatter pay cheques from endorsements than films. So it’s not a surprise that their army of professionals include brand managers, whose primary job is to get their clients plum ad deals. This is managed by companies like Kwan, Bling, Matrix and Cornerstone (who also do talent management). It’s believed that at least 70 per cent of stars’ income comes from endorsements. And that’s why top actors such as Aamir Khan, SRK, Hrithik Roshan and Ranbir Kapoor can afford to do only one film a year.

On the job: “When we approach a brand, it’s done after researching loads of quantitative data and case studies. Plus, we have to make sure that our clients fit the brand perfectly and that, in turn, it will help their image. Also, signing too many brands can prove detrimental,” says Anirban Dash Blah, whose company, Kwan, manages the work of stars like Ranbir, Deepika Padukone and Akshay.

If you ever wondered why even a single strand of a star’s hair is never off place, then you should know that a professional is always on the job to ensure just that. Ranbir and Ajay Devgn want Aalim Hakim, Aamir insists on Adhuna Akhtar. Similarly, Pompi is most likely to work with Kareena Kapoor. Most top stars will always keep a hairstylist in their entourage.

On the job: “When you work with a star, the biggest challenge is to be flexible. If they are working on multiple films, as a hairstylist, we have to make sure that their hair looks the same in all shots. Plus, we have to be very careful about the cut, because the hair can’t be grown back (smiles). For example, Hrithik started shooting for Bang Bang, but he had some patch work left for Krrish 3, so I had to be very careful with his hairstyle,” says Kanta Motwani, who has worked with Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan, Alia Bhatt and, of course, Hrithik, among others.

For any producer, a secretary is the go-to person in order to reach a star. From handling a star’s date diary to keeping them abreast of day-to-day activities, it won’t be wrong to say that a secretary controls a star’s life. So, typically, a star would turn to his secretary every evening to know what he/she is supposed to do the next day. Case in point, Sonakshi Sinha is never without her manager-cum-secretary Bhakti Nihalani.

On the job: “We have to be very particular about the nitty-gritty of time and date. Consider this: right from the business manager asking us to allot dates for a certain project, a producer requesting for a meeting to a journalist coming for an interview, we have to be sure about all the time slots. Otherwise, it might lead to chaos. But since Akshay sir is very specific about his timings, it always gives me a high to work with him,” says Zenobia Kohla, who has been working with Akshay for almost a decade.

Make-up artists
For a film star, the face is arguably the most important asset. So make-up artists automatically gain paramount importance. So much so that most of the actors hire their personal make-up artists who are, in turn, paid by producers when the actors work on their films. A recent example proves a make-up artist’s importance – Anushka Sharma and Katrina Kaif apparently fought over Subhash, the make-up artist who has worked with Katrina since she did Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya (2005). Katrina, it seems, was not happy when he decided to accompany Anushka for a two-day trip.

On the job: “When you work with a star, the comfort level must be there. As for Hrithik, he trusts me. Since he is a perfectionist, he also expects the same level of commitment from everyone else. Don’t forget, a star’s face is his or her biggest property. So we have to be extremely careful about it,” says Vijay Palande, Hrithik’s make-up artist.

Ever wondered why a starlet’s name is linked with a young star or how all the actress’ names are bandied around for a big-ticket project? Welcome to the world of new-age publicity. Arguably, the quality as well as quantity of publicity that a star gets is instrumental in deciding the number of projects and remuneration he/she gets. So don’t be surprised if you find the names of top publicists such as Nilufer Qureshi (handles work for Karan Johar, Hrithik and Akshay), Parag Desai (manages Amitabh Bachchan and Ajay), Rohini Iyer (her client list includes Priyanka Chopra, Abhishek Bachchan, Katrina and Kareena) and Shilpa Handa (handles work for Aamir, Farhan Akhtar, Deepika, Shahid Kapoor and Anil Kapoor) on your star’s speed dial.

Business managers
It’s all about business in the cut-throat world of Bollywood. This is where the business managers come in. They get the well-paying assignments for their star clients. We all know how Reshma Shetty turned around Salman’s fortunes. And if one is good (or lucky) enough, he/she might even get a bigger job profile (SRK introduces his manager Karuna Badwal as a co-producer with Chennai Express).

On the job: “The choices can be tempting. So, for me, and I think for others too. The biggest challenge is to choose the best from the best of offers. And it’s not just about choosing work for your clients, it’s about thinking how a film is going to benefit or hurt my star after a year. And one also has to learn how to turn down offers without hurting anyone’s sentiments,” says Zahid Khan, who handles work for Kareena and Saif Ali Khan.

Also part of the entourage

Almost all the stars have drivers who have worked with them for over a decade. Akshay’s driver Ravi has been driving him around for 15 years now. Sanjay Dutt’s driver Prasad has been a driver to his mother Nargis as well as to his sister Priya during her student days.

No actor can do without personal fitness trainers. While Yasmin Karachiwala works with Katrina, Deanne Pandey is close friends with Bipasha Basu. Among men, Prashant Sawant works with SRK and Satyajit Chaurasia trains Aamir. Recently, Shahid’s trainer Abbas Ali travelled with him to an awards function.

Man Fridays
Stars are always dependant on their Man Fridays to get them a bottle of water, a cup of coffee or their favourite food. They move around like a star’s shadow. For instance, Akshay’s Man Friday Nitin Bankar (Akshay even borrowed his name on-screen for his film, De Dana Dan; 2009) has been with him for 19 years.

Remaking times
The eight most anticipated remakes of classic Bollywood movies
1. Shaukeen: Akshay Kumar and Nargis Fakhri will be seen romancing in the remake of the 1982 comedy Shaukeen, to be directed by Rumi Jaffrey.
2. Zanjeer: Apoorva Lakhia’s remake of the 1973 action film stars Ram Charan Teja, Priyanka Chopra, Mahie Gill and Prakash Raj.
3. Aankhen: Ranbir Kapoor and Shahid Kapoor are rumoured to be sharing screen space in producer Pankaj Nihalani’s remake of the 1993 slapstick comedy.
4. Bade Miyan Chote Miyan: Producer Vashu Bhagnani is reportedly planning to remake Amitabh Bachchan and Govinda’s 1998 hit.
5. Khubsoorat: Sonam Kapoor will reprise the role played by Rekha in the 1980 film. The remake, directed by Shashank Ghosh, is going on floors in August.
6. Hero: Salman Khan will produce the remake of the Jackie Shroff-starrer Hero (1983), and has already cast Aditya Pancholi’s son Sooraj for the remake.
7. Ram Lakhan: Subhash Ghai is all set to the remake the Anil Kapoor and Jackie Shroff 1989 hit.
8. Khal Nayak: Apart from Hero and Ram Lakhan, Ghai is also scripting the remake of Sanjay Dutt’s hit film Khal Nayak (1993).

— Anirban Das

First Published: Jul 13, 2013 12:32 IST