It is interesting that promoting new talent comes instinctively to Salman Khan. Although not many of his discoveries barring Sonakshi Sinha have been successful, over the years he has given the film industry talent as varied as Himesh Reshammiya, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Sonakshi Sinha and Sooraj Barjatya.
In the film Notebook, a tender supple Kashmir-based love story directed by Nitin Kakkar who directed Filmistan the game changing satire on Indo-Pak relations, Salman introduced two newcomers. While the leading man Zaheer Iqbal is a complete outsider with no connections in the film industry at all, Pranutan is a fourth-generation actor all set to conquer showbiz.
Pranutan’s great-grandmother was the great Shobhana Samarth who revolutionized the way audiences in the 1930s and 40s looked at the female protagonist. Pranutan’s grandmother Nutan needs no introduction. Nutan with a body of immortal work that ranges from Sujata and Bandini to Karma and Main Tulsi Tere Aangan Ki is considered one of three best actresses of all times, alongside Meena Kumari and Nargis and perhaps superior in her craft to both.
And before we forget, Pranutan’s father is the talented Mohnish Bahl who never got his due. And that’s where the Salman connection came in.Given Salman’s proximity to director Sooraj Barjatya it was only natural that Salman would gravitate towards Mohnish who was also a very close friend of Barjatya. Pranutan would trot around the sets of Barjatya’s Maine Pyar Kiya, Hum Aapke Hain Koun and Hum Saath Saath Hain with her dad, Salman and Barjatya.
Rumour has it that Salman had once pointed at the adorable little Bahl and vowed that one day he would launch Pranutan as a heroine. There is no doubt Pranutan has a very promising career ahead. Those who have seen her on screen swear she resembles her grandmother. And that’s saying a lot.
As for Zaheer, there is a spontaneous appeal to his presence defined by a sense of self that newcomers didn’t possess in the past. As David Dhawan points out, earlier generations of newcomers would instinctively model themselves on Rajesh Khanna or Amitabh Bachchan. But after the generation that came in with the Khans, the actors were on their own.
“Ranbir, Ranveer, Varun or Vicky Kaushal don’t imitate anyone. And that’s a blessing,” says David.
While the jury is still out on the two newcomers who will hit the screen this week in Notebook, the one comment that applies to them with all surety is that they are the first two really promising newcomers of 2019.
After the Khans, the floodgates have been opened to new talent in Bollywood. They are just pouring in. I get the feeling Salman’s protégées will be well-entrenched at the box office even though their first film failed. Let's not forget, Salman started his career with Biwi Ho Toh Aisi, a flop which features the late (and much missed) Farooq Sheikh as the male lead and Salman as Rekha's brother-in-law.