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Clannish Bollywood readies kids to take over

At least half a dozen children from top star families are debuting this year in Bollywood, an industry that has shoehorned its children into instant stardom.

entertainment Updated: Oct 24, 2007 18:40 IST

At least half a dozen children from top Indian film families are debuting this year in Bollywood, a clannish industry that has for generations shoehorned its sons and daughters into instant stardom.

Though the genetic head start is no guarantee for long-term success, children of dozens of Bollywood actors have become actors, musicians have produced musicians and even lyricists have supposedly passed on their talent.

But for every successful star kid in Bollywood there are more celebrity children who did not make it, implying talent, and not family connections, is the last word for a career in films.

Two of Bollywood's biggest superstars -- Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan -- made it largely on their own.

For star debutant Ranbir Kapoor, who hails from one of Bollywood's oldest and powerful dynasties, an illustrious lineage meant a lavish break, but it has also heaped enormous pressure on him to emulate the success of his father, Rishi Kapoor.

The 25-year-old debuts in Saawariya, a story about star-crossed lovers, which will open on Nov. 9.

His father's numerous successful romantic roles made him the sobriquet of the eternal lover-boy of the silver screen who sang and danced to woo his heroines well into his 40s.

The Kapoor clan is one of the oldest in Bollywood. Over seven decades ago Prithviraj Kapoor began starring in silent movies. His sons Raj, Shammi and Shashi made it big and eased their progenies into successful film careers.

<b1>"We are anxious because Ranbir carries the expectations that come with a great lineage," says Neetu Singh, the debutant's mother who was a top heroine through the 1970s.

A family affair
Unrelated to the Kapoors is Sonam Kapoor who is also debuting as the heroine in Saawariya. Her father, Anil Kapoor, was a successful hero who was last seen in the film Salaam-e-Ishq.

The first star kid off the block this year was Neil Nitin Mukesh whose grandfather, Mukesh, was one of the film industry's greatest singers. However, unlike his father and grandfather he chose acting over singing.

The debutant tasted moderate success in a thriller called

Johnny Gaddar

, and industry experts feel the young man's good looks could help him survive.

Two other debutants this year are Harman, son of Harry Baweja, a leading Bollywood producer, and Mimoh, the 23-year-old son of yesteryear hero Mithun Chakraborty.

Most star kids insist their lineage is more often a liability than an advantage because of the huge expectations to come good on their family name.

"My father didn't ever put in a word for me," says Mimoh, who will star in a film called Jimmy, a popular screen name of his father from a 1980s film.

Other star kids trying their luck at the box office this year are Sikandar, the son of popular actors Anupam and Kirron Kher, and Deepika, the daughter of former badminton champion Prakash Padukone.

In a cut-throat industry star kids have an edge because most of them are assured of that one chance which thousands of aspiring actors wait for their whole life.

"What you make of that one chance is up to you," says a debuting actor who did not want to be named.

"Your father or godfather will not bankroll your flops forever."

First Published: Oct 24, 2007 12:03 IST