Superstars have gained the label of ‘superstardom’ after many years of hard work and intensive dedication. It is but natural that they want to strive for the limelight when they are in their feature films. They also attract crowds and fans to the feature when they are the leads. However, here are ten actors who have not taken the lead in their films.
1. Rajesh Khanna in Amar Prem
At the peak of his superstardom when all the world was his stage, Rajesh Khanna agreed to play second fiddle to Sharmila Tagore in Shakti Samanta’s immortal love story. In fact so sure was Samanta that the superstar won’t do a heroine-oriented film at that juncture of his career that he didn’t even offer the film to Khanna. Amar Prem was first offered to Raj Kumar. It was the superstar who volunteered to play the lead in a film where he had to share the limelight with a 7-year old boy Nandu (Master Bobby).
2. Salman Khan in Phir Milenge
When Tamil star Revathi decided to direct a Hindi film about a girl who is ostracized at her workplace for having contracted AIDS, Salman generously stepped into play a secondary role (as an HIV infected) only because the cause was bigger than his stardom. Bravo.
3. Salman Khan in Khamoshi: The Musical
When Sanjay Leela Bhansali turned director he went to his friend Salman Khan for support. Salman agreed to play the lead only because he knew that Khamoshi: The Musical was out and out Manisha Koirala’s film,a female-oriented subject . The male lead was what Vinod Mehra used to play in the 1980s. If it wasn’t for Salman what would SLB have done?
4. Sanjeev Kumar in Aandhi
When his best buddy Gulzar offered this film to his Haribhai, the actor par excellence grumbled good-naturedly, "This is Suchitra Sen’s film through and through. What will I do in it? Tu mera dost hai ya dushman?" But that was just a budy tantrum. Sanjeev took up the challenge and won the Filmfare award for best actor.
5. Irrfan Khan in Piku
Deepika Padukone played the title role in this father-daughter film .And no Irrfan didn’t play Deepika’s father. The Big B did. He played the guy who drove the father-daughter to Kolkata while they drove him around the bend. The way Irrfan created eloquent space for himself in the narrative is the hallmark of a truly great actor.
6. Amitabh Bachchan in Pink
The relentless focus here was on the three female protagonists as they battled sexual violation. The Big B quietly took the backseat for the cause, fighting the women’s battle in the court, proving that a true superstar is one who knows when to step back for the larger good.
7. Aamir Khan in Rangeela
This was a film designer-structured to turn Urmila Matondkar into an overnight star. Yet Aamir Khan stepped in and power packed a performance as astreetwise tapori that many including me regard as Aamir’s career’s best.
8. Rajnikanth, Sunny Deol in Chaalbaaz
Sridevi in a double roles and the two superstars cast as her romantic interests? Quite a reversal of gender rules in Bollywood. What’s more both the Thalaiyva and Sunny Paaji had a ball wooing Sri as she held centre stage.
9. Shah Rukh Khan in Dear Zindagi
He enters the plot 40 minutes after the film begins and then he just listens to Alia Bhatt spill her innermost secrets. For King Khan this is quite a departure from his I-me-myself roles. And he simply takes over the role without taking over the plot.
10. Akshay Kumar in Naam Shabana
Gender-bender in a blender. In Neeraj Pandey’s Baby Akshay Kumar held centre stage while Taapsee Pannu made a cameo appearance as an intelligence officer out to nab a terrorist. Now a whole film on Taapsee’s character in Baby is being made and Akshay has sportingly put in a cameo appearance. The age of chivalry is not dead yet.