When we consider the term ‘Professionalism’, then at one end it specifically means strictly not disclosing details of any ongoing project to the others, particularly to the ones working in the similar profession. But at the same time, the term also means that if a second project is offered to an actor, quite close to the one he has already done in the past or is currently involved in, then ideally that needs to be clearly conveyed to the writer/director making the offer, leaving the decision on him that whether he still wishes to continue with the same or decides to drop it.
A few recent Hindi releases forced me to think about these two ‘tricky’ meanings of the word sharing it honestly and the subject once again took me back to the late-80s controversy between two famous duds of Amitabh Bachchan namely TOOFAN and JAADUGAR releasing in close succession in the same year of 1989. Based on a common unconventional subject revolving around magicians, both these films did have Amitabh playing the key role of a Jaadugar (though with completely different story plots), which was exactly the point raised by Prakash Mehra that his leading man didn’t tell him about the similarity during the entire making. Now how and why the fact didn’t get revealed in time avoiding the messy clash cannot be guessed rightly. But the truth remains that both these film actually got made, released and rejected too (at the same time with TOOFAN releasing first) for the very reason of similarities apart from the mediocre making.
Ironically even Amitabh’s SHAHENSHAH releasing a year before in 1988 had a similar theme like TOOFAN focusing on a super-human kind of figure fighting the evil at night and another similar looking character playing the comical part in the daytime entertaining the viewers (though it wasn’t the case of a double role).
Adding another worth mentioning fact about MKD films, just like COOLIE (1983), TOOFAN is also mostly quoted as a Manmohan Desai film, whereas the first was directed by Prayag Rag (sharing the credits with Manmohan Desai) and the latter was the second directorial venture of his son, Ketan Desai.
Coming back to the present, the recent example is of two major films releasing at the gap of 4 months namely WAZIR and TE3N in the first half of 2016 based on a similar theme. Interestingly in this case too we have Amitabh Bachchan only playing the lead role in both the films as an old man who has lost a girl in the family to an unfortunate event and now is willing to take his revenge from the known killer. Despite being contrastingly different in the mystery involved and its treatment, amazingly both WAZIR and TE3N have Amitabh only as the main conspirator behind the games being played like a shrewd criminal fooling his close associates Farhan and Nawazuddin respectively. Now was this acute similarity actually known or conveyed to the respective makers or not (working simultaneously) is certainly a backstage mystery to be solved by asking the makers themselves.
Admittedly many a times two or more films do get made on a similar theme by different directors. But the mystical question is that when a same lead actor is doing both these projects at almost the same time, then does professionalism allows him to remain silent and hide this crucial fact from both the makers or it rightly demands to reveal the truth at the earliest and let them decide for the rest.
Quoting a couple of examples of the same, PREM SHASTRA and ISHQ ISHQ ISHQ both had the mention of a bold subject of incest with Dev Anand and Zeenat Aman playing the lead, releasing in the same year of 1974 (and none of the two worked). In the mid-90s, Shah Rukh Khan repeated his stalker act of DARR (December/1993) in a much brutal manner in ANJAAM released just a few months later in (April/1994), clearly indicating that they both were into the making almost simultaneously in the year 1992-93.
The above examples are of the films that were being made around the same time - featuring the same lead stars - revolving around the same theme, that’s indeed quite amusing and intriguing to even think about.
However there are other instances when a lead star featured in a film that was quite similar to what he had earlier done in the past too in another venture.
To begin with we have a very recent case of Irrfan Khan playing the lead role in DEADLINE – SIRF 24 GHANTE (2006), JAZBAA (2015) and MADAARI (2016) having an identical theme of a kid getting kidnapped in all the three.
Now in JAZBAA, there is a sequence where the kidnapped girl gets sick and the kidnapper makes a call to the mother (Aishwarya), to bring the medicine at a particular place leaving the packet at a specific spot. An exactly similar sequence is there in DEADLINE too where the kid girl gets an attack of asthma and the kidnapper has to bring in the mother to take care of her for a while. No doubt the sequence is tackled in a much better manner in DEADLINE where Irrfan himself plays one of the kidnappers (in contrast to the inspector in JAZBAA), but whether he recalled or pointed out this similarity to his writer/director of JAZBAA or not remains an exciting mystery.
Amusingly another important fact related with both these films reamins that where JAZBAA was an official remake of a Korean thriller SEVEN DAYS (2007), DEADLINE was an unofficial version of an English film TRAPPED (2002) having an exactly similar sequence like a weird co-incidence.
Talking about the most recent MADAARI (2016), here too it’s again Irrfan Khan playing the forced criminal kidnapping the kid of an influential figure of the society. And the only difference is that where in DEADLINE he kidnaps the daughter of a doctor/surgeon blaming him for the death of his young child, in MADAARI he picks up the son of a Home Minister, who was the key person, passing a faulty flyover causing the death of his only child. However the question still remains the same that did Irrfan honestly inform or discuss these exact similarities with the writer-director of MADAARI or not?
Giving some similar references from the past, in the 80s and 90s, most of the films of Dharmendra and Mithun Chakraborty often generated the feeling of Deja-Vu in a vague manner.
Besides, Rajesh Khanna and Hema Malini featured in two films based on a similar reincarnation theme namely MEHBOOBA (1976) and KUDRAT (1981).
VAASTAV (1999) had its seeds in a similar act by Sanjay Dutt in his HATHYAR released in 1989, with the entire transformation beginning from a road side food stall only.
Anil Kapoor played an innocent adult with an underdeveloped mental state in YUVRAAJ (2008), which was quite identical to what he superbly played two decades back in EESWAR (1989).
And on a lighter note, cannot really guess that while shooting for the last shot of LAGAAN (2001) playing the winning sixer, did Aamir Khan recall that he had earlier played an exactly similar sixer in the climax of Dev Anand’s AWWAL NUMBER (1990) too, though playing modern cricket in a stadium instead of the pre-independence era against the Englishmen.
Anyway the question still stands tall as an unsolved mystery that, whether the lead stars actually spotted these similarities and discussed with their directors too or they just decided to let it go……. posing as some different kind of professionals remaining silent?
(Note : Do let me know if you recall another similar instance of the past that deserves a mention in the article.)