Come November, Shah Rukh Khan turns 52, in December Salman Khan will be 51, Aamir Khan is 52 and today Rajiv Bhatia, popularly known as 'Akshay Kumar', turns 50.
It's almost the end of an era of adulation, whispered myths and letters written in blood, something that started in the late 1960s with Rajesh Khanna.
Bollywood's quintessential "Superstar" syndrome, as they call it!
Bolly golly wood
Rajesh Khanna, the first Superstar of Bollywood
When Rajesh Khanna entered into the colorful world of cinema, India had already seen her fair share of stardom with actors like Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor, and Dev Anand. They were revered but what Khanna garnered in his career was something unprecedented - mass euphoria.
He had fans gasping on his every word, a demigod among men, loved by his audience, envied by his peers.
Amitabh Bachchan, the name speaks volumes
Soon, the seat was usurped by "The angry young man", once rejected for his deep baritone voice in a talent hunt contest.
Amitabh Bachchan or Big B at 74 continues to make movies. The eyes have seen it all, the superstardom, the falling out and a successful transformation from the leading man to a character driven powerhouse making calculated moves to protect his legacy.
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The Khan-dani affair
Then came the era of Khans, three men who took things to a peak that the Industry had never seen before. Everything they touched was gold.
One outsider who would become the embodiment of Bollywood romance, one actor who would be known for making radical choices that would pay off every time in the box office and one bad boy who never grew up.
And then there were none
In the new era though, many names have been written and wiped off from this list. Actors with great promise, a fantastic debut or from families that had Bollywood in their blood, they came and went.
The audience is growing up; a Friday night release can no longer bank on star-power to have a successful opening night. The dynamics are changing rapidly with time.
Making compromises for the sake of stardom
Even the superstars have to accommodate now - creating roles and promoting themselves as characters and not someone whose appearance is enough.
There is still adulation but it's becoming harder everyday to keep it within one's grasp. Maybe it's because of the fact there is no secrecy left, no room for imagination, thanks to social media/gossip columns everyone knows everything about his/her favorite star.
No more mystery left
The sentiment is echoed by another outsider like SRK. Ayushmann Khurrana of "Vicky Donor" fame, "I don't believe in stardom... Rajesh Khanna and the three Khans have enjoyed it... The phase of superstardom is gone because actors are so approachable and available... There's no mystery left."
Another young entrant, Varun Dhawan quips, "Today people don't have patience, they move on very fast."
Remember the Titans
Bollywood, however, will survive without its superstars. There will be stars, promising talent and director's actors all making movies. The craft with time will hone itself to a point where it will no longer need one person to carry an entire movie on his shoulders.
Maybe, 50 years from now, the superstars' stories would become a cinephile's fond remembrance, unread on a coffee table.
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