The music launch event of the October 3 release Mirzya was attended by family members of debutant actors Harshvardhan Kapoor and Saiyami Kher. Kapoor’s father, the ageless 1980s star Anil Kapoor, reiterated his non-involvement in his son’s first screen venture and yet, his words “Beta ho toh aisa” (This is what a son should be like) boomed through the venue.
Several second- and third-generation scions of Hindi film royalty have been given impressive launches over the past few years, with their parents and sometimes entire clans in attendance to underline the pedigree of their progeny. Jackie Shroff was present at the launch of his son, Tiger Shroff, in Heropanti in 2014 . For his debut Saawariya in 2007, Ranbir Kapoor was accompanied by his very emotional father, Rishi Kapoor, himself a third-generation actor.
Rishi Kapoor’s first feature as an adult in his father Raj Kapoor’s Bobby in 1973 created an enduring template for star children launches. Bobby, co-starring Dimple Kapadia, was a romance about rebellious teenagers in love. The emotional graph of its characters matched the age graph of the celebrity descendants. Bobby’s chartbusting soundtrack proved that even when the stories failed, the music made the experience bearable.
Music also boosted the prospects of Love Story, the 1981 debut of actor Rajendra Kumar’s son Kumar Gaurav with Vijeta Pandit (the daughter and niece respectively of classical singers Narain Pandit and Pandit Jasraj). The plot focused yet again on young lovers on the run from disapproving parents. RD Burman’s soundtrack was one of Love Story’s highlights, apart from the lead pair’s fresh good looks. Yet, neither actor could replicate the success of Love Story.
Kumar Gaurav’s future brother-in-law combined romance with action for his claim to fame in the same year. Sanjay Dutt’s Rocky was directed by his father, Sunil Dutt, and co-starred Tina Munim. The vendetta-driven plot had yet another winning score from RD Burman, and Sanjay Dutt proved to be a big hit with audiences in subsequent films.
The success of these films proved that Raj Kapoor had designed a formula equivalent of turning lead into gold for future generations.
The cocktail of good songs, a romance-heavy plot and the backing of a reputed film family worked yet again in 1983, when it was time for Sunny Deol and Amrita Singh to try their luck with Betaab. Deol’s father Dharmendra was an uncredited producer on the film. RD Burman tunes such as Badal Yun Garajta Hai, Tumne Di Awaaz, Teri Tasveer Mil Gayee were hits, but none of them caught the imagination of the nation as fervently as Jab Hum Jawaan Honge. Sung by Lata Mangeshkar and Shabbir Kumar, the track epitomised the sentiments of an entire generation of youngsters in love.
Not every star son got lucky. The same year, actor Manoj Kumar’s son Kunal Goswami appeared in Kalakaar with Sridevi. Kalakaar featured the popular Neele Neele Ambar Par, sung by Kishore Kumar and composed by Bappi Lahiri, but the song proved to be the film’s chief highlight. Goswami’s career never took off, but Sridevi escaped from Kalakaar’s failure because she was already a leading actress in Tamil and Telugu films and had made a good impression in Himmatwala earlier that year.
With so many star kids making a beeline for the silver screen, how could Suneil Anand not have convinced his charismatic father Dev Anand to launch him? The 1984 release with a pun in the title, Anand Aur Anand, featured the father-son duo romancing their heroines with tunes composed by Burman. The film and the music went unnoticed.
Raj Kapoor was back in 1985 to introduce his youngest son Rajiv Kapoor opposite the water nymph Mandakini in Ram Teri Ganga Maili. Composer Ravindra Jain won a Filmfare award for best music director for the melodious soundtrack. All songs, including the title track, were popular, and the movie was a hit, but Rajeev Kapoor never quite made it.
Another film in 1988 featured a rebellious couple in love, and despite its tragic ending, it was a phenomenon. Ace producer Nasir Hussain launched his son and nephew in Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak was directed by Mansoor Khan and reintroduced Aamir Khan after his brief role in Ketan Mehta’s arthouse film Holi (1985). Burman, Hussain’s favourite composer was to have scored the music, but Mansoor Khan opted for the untested pair Anand-Milind. This was the first Hussain production in 22 years to not have Burman’s tunes. Khan’s gumption worked, and the song Papa Kehte Hain, sung by Udit Narayan, became a youth anthem.
Superstar daddies have not always been able to bestow their fortune on their sons. Vinod Khanna’s son, Akshaye Khanna, was propelled into the orbit through Himalay Putra (1997), but he evolved into a dependable character actor rather than an A-lister. Fardeen Khan sizzled in and fizzled out with Prem Aggan (1998) directed by his father Feroz Khan.
Adding to the excitement of star sons trying to replicate the dream run of their fathers were star daughters. Dharmendra produced his second son Bobby Deol’s romantic debut Barsaat in 1995 with Twinkle Khanna, the daughter of Rajesh Khanna and Dimple Kapadia. Barsaat had some great tunes by Nadeem-Shravan.
When superstar Amitabh Bachchan’s son Abhishek Bachchan made his debut in JP Dutta’s Refugee in June in 2000, some of the limelight had already been stolen by the nimble-footed Hrithik Roshan. His January debut Kaho Naa…Pyaar Hai, directed by father Rakesh Roshan and musically supported by uncle Rajesh Roshan, made him the sensation who overshadowed everybody for the next few years, including Jeetendra’s son Tusshar Kapoor (Mujhe Kuch Kehna Hai, 2001) and Mithun Chakraborty’s son Mimoh (Jimmy, 2008).
Refugee’s music fetched composer Anu Malik and lyricist Javed Akhtar National Film Award honours for the song Panchhi Nadiya, but it was no match for the best-selling album of the year that belonged to Kaho Naa…Pyaar Hai.
By the time Ranbir Kapoor sauntered onto the screen, the responsibility of launching star kids had moved on to starstruck mentors. Rather than making his debut in a production by his family banner RK Films, like his father and uncles, Ranbir Kapoor was introduced opposite Anil Kapoor’s daughter Sonam in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Saawariya in 2007. Similarly, Tiger Shroff found his godfather in producer Sajid Nadiadwala, who signed him for two films, Heropanti (2014) and Baaghi (2016). Actor Aditya Pancholi relied on Salman Khan, who produced Hero (2015), starring Sooraj Pancholi and Athiya Shetty, the daughter of Sunil Shetty.
Although star daughters have not always been given the same attention as their male counterparts, some of them, including Karisma Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor and Alia Bhatt, have gone on to carve out enduring careers for themselves. Writer-director father Mahesh Bhatt introduced his eldest daughter Pooja Bhatt in Daddy (1990), but he retired from direction in 1999. His younger daughter, Alia Bhatt, found her mentor in Karan Johar, who launched her in the high school romance Student Of The Year in 2012. Johar gave Bhatt an equal chunk of screen time with the other debutants, Siddharth Malhotra and Varun Dhawan, the son of director David Dhawan.
Not all fathers are happy that their daughters have decided to take up the same careers as them. Karisma Kapoor was the first woman from her generation in her family to become an actress, reportedly without the approval of her father, Randhir Kapoor. During the Saawariya launch, Anil Kapoor said in an interview that he would have preferred for Sonam Kapoor to stay at home. He now sings his daughter’s praises, proving that Daddy always know best.