Much has been said about Bollywood’s nepotism and its godfathers. A godfather is one who has their hand on their shishya’s (disciple’s) head and guides them through the many trials and travails of celebrityhood. Now, Bollywood has had many godfathers but due to a certain Ms Ranaut, Karan Johar is the only one who comes up in conversation, time and again. It’s also probably because Johar’s proteges are successful and showy. His most famous protege is, of course, Alia Bhatt whom he launched with Student of the Year and so is Varun Dhawan. Sidharth Malhotra was one of his successful proteges but he’s been having a hard time at the box-office recently. Johar’s latest list of proteges include Ananya Panday, Jahnvi Kapoor, Tara Sutaria and Shanaya Kapoor. All these four young women command massive social media followings and are immensely popular. Then, there’s Salman Khan.
Salman Khan is one of Bollywood’s Khan triumvirate and his films are massive celebrations. While the critics have given up on him, he’s a superstar of the masses and commands a cult following. However, while he’s been supremely fortunate at the movies, he appears to have had extremely bad luck when it comes to launching people in Bollywood. Don’t believe us? Google it for yourself. Khan made an attempt to launch the legendary Nutan’s granddaughter, Pranutan Bahl with a film called Notebook which also starred his another protégé Zaheer Iqbal. The film spent such little time in theatres that barely anyone even knows it released. Then there’s Aayush Sharma who is Khan’s brother-in-law. Sharma may have been working hard at the gym but when his film, Loveyatri released, it was universally panned. It’s only saving grace till today remains the song, Chogada, which is played at all Garba parties.
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In 2015, Khan made his biggest show as a godfather by launching Sooraj Pancholi and Athiya Shetty, both of whom are ‘star kids’. The film, Hero, was supposed to be this massive blockbuster that would immediately launch Pancholi and Shetty into the stratosphere. Alas, the film came and went and while it did have its moment in theatres, both the lead actors have long fallen off the radar. Pancholi will forever be mired in controversy because of his connection to the Jiah Khan case and Shetty was hailed as a fashionista during Hero’s movie promotions but she has since fallen off the radar as far as movies are concerned. However, she still manages to make news because of her alleged relationship with cricketer Kl Rahul and because rapper Drake occasionally comments on her pictures.
When it comes to Pancholi, Khan was also accused by Jiah Khan’s mother of hampering the probe into her daughter’s suicide. “What happened with Sushant, has reminded me of 2015 when I went to meet CBI officer who had called me down from London. He said please come, we have found some incriminating evidence. I land up over there, and he says, ‘Oh, by the way, Salman Khan calls me every day and says he has invested a lot of money, please don’t harass the boy, please don’t interrogate him, don’t touch him. So what can we do, madam?’ He was annoyed, he looked frustrated,” Rabia Khan told SpotboyE following actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death.
Not to shock anyone but Khan’s most successful protege has been Daisy Shah who was a co-dancer in Lagan Lagi from his superhit film, Tere Naam. She starred opposite him in Jai Ho, did the supremely raunchy Hate Story in 2015 and also starred in one of the films in the Race franchise and has a good social media following, if nothing. Shah also gained national fame when a meme with her dialogue from Race went viral on social media because of how inane it was. “Salman sir is my mentor, I am his protégé and will remain so. And, about ‘Salman camp’, yeh camp banata kaun hai? We never consider ourselves as a part of any camp. We are individuals, and form bonds with the ones we work with, and consider them as our family. I would say I am immensely loved by Salman sir’s family,” Shah told The Free Press Journal in an interview.
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However, his most popular launch has to be Zareen Khan and not because of her great acting skills. Khan launched Zareen in his 2010 film, Veer and there was a lot of talk about her looking exactly like Katrina Kaif, his former lover. There was so much hype around Zareen Khan but alas, she couldn’t come close to Kaif’s fame and did a few films and dropped off. However, Khan had to face many trials in Bollywood due to her comparison with Kaif. “Yes, in the beginning, it was the whole lookalike thing… Honestly, I don’t even know from where it had creeped out. Even before my pictures or my interviews came out, a random picture, from my Facebook account, was being circulated with claims that she looks like Katrina,” she told The Times of India, adding: “Back then, social media was not as powerful as it is today, and we were majorly dependent on media houses and newspapers. So, I somehow feel that the public was not really given a chance to see me and have a perception of their own. It was fed to them as gossip. Our audience is also a little gullible that way, believing whatever they are fed instead of forming their own opinion. I was called ‘Fatrina’. Even when I went out for events, nothing good was ever written about me; they would talk only about my weight.”
Talking of resemblances, Khan even launched the petite Sneha Ullal in Lucky: No Time For Love. The teaser of the film has everyone gasping for breath as Sneha appeared like a carbon copy of Salman’s superstar ex-girlfriend Aishwarya Rai. The film flopped upon release and Sheba vanished in thin air.
Other proteges of Khan’s include Saiee Manjrekar and Warina Hussain. Hussain starred in Loveyatri opposite Sharma. Manjrekar is Mahesh Manjrekar‘s daughter and will make her debut opposite Khan in Dabangg 3. Manjrekar seems to have done well so far. The actress will be seen next in the Hindi-Telugu bilingual film, Major, opposite Adivi Sesh. She has also signed another Telugu film opposite South star, Varun Tej.
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Where does Khan go wrong? He picks star kids to launch and none of the other actors he’s attempted to launch look terrible on-screen. However, for some reason, they’ve all gone on to have ill-fated careers.
A lot of you must be wondering why is Katrina Kaif’s name not on the list. Well, for starters she wasn’t launched by Salman Khan. Yes, her alleged relationship with Salman might have helped her in gaining some ground in the industry but her massive success and superstardom can only be credited to her sheer dedication and hard work.
[Image Credit: ANI]