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HINDI STARS
There are some film magazines devoted to the genre that were printed in English; these gave me some ideas of who the stars were, and listed other films in which they had starred. One of the most recognizable and handsome stars is Amitabh Bahchnan, a middle-aged man who is sometimes called "the most famous Indian alive!" He is most known for his romantic leads in such films as AMAR AKBAR ANTHONY, SHOLAY, HERA PHERI, and the highly entertaining DEEWAAR. His 15-year reign as King of Hindi Film ended with a badly timed venture into politics and defamation due to an alleged connection with organized crime. Another leading male actor, one of my favorites, is Anil Kapoor, who has starred in such films as 1942, RAM LAKHAN, TEZAAB, and EESHWAR. He is most notable for the obvious mustache and dark wavy hair that appears regularly on male Hindi film stars, but looks most appropriate on him. His look gives him the character he needs to pull off the role of the villain as well as the hero in more recent films.

You can't have a hero and villain in a Hindi Film without the "damsel in distress" or "romantic interest." Madhuri Dixit began her career with what was a financial disaster in 1984's ABODH and, as a result, ended up trying out for a failed TV serial. She ultimately made it big in BETA, ANJAAM, and HAHK. But even more famous is the very attractive woman that goes only by the name Rekha—or Re, for short. Her talents allowed her the prestigious National Award for her role in UMRAO JAAN; despite this honor, she has been plagued with slander and gossip resulting from her romantic involvement with none other than Amitabh Bahchan. Later, she married actor Mukesh Agarwal against the wishes of her friends and family. She should have listened—he committed suicide within the year.

As you can see, the Hindi Film social world is almost as volatile as that of the Hong Kong film industry. With the recent wave of Hong Kong films in the States, we've become aware of the gossip and slander that haunts a lot of HK film stars: the alleged Triad connections of Anita Mui, for example, and the good/bad Triad relationship of the Heung Brothers and Chan Chi-ming. This doesn't necessarily mean that this time next year we'll all be placing copies of GEETANJALI and INSANIYAT KE DEVTA on top of our old copies of HARD BOILED and ARMOR OF GOD—but, then again, you never know.

LINKS: A really good Hindi Pop Culture webzine, called Chitralekha Group, can be found at http://www.chitralekha.com/. And a ton of Hindi film-related links are collected at http://www.inpros.com/india/india213.html.

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