Four Taurean actors, Madhuri Dixit, Shiny Ahuja, Girish Karnad and Nawazuddin Siddiqui, though much different from each other, have one thing in common. They are intense and rode the waves of fame. Shiny’s career nosedived as he was allegedly framed in a rape case. Girish, despite his huge success, has courted controversies. Nawazuddin is one actor to be noticed closely, while Madhuri still is the undisputed diva of Bollywood. Smriti profiles them on their birthdays, exclusively in Different Truths. We, at DT, wish all of them a very happy birthday.
Madhuri Dixit, the Actress of the Millennium, is the Diva of Bollywood
In 1984, Rajshri Productions introduced a simple and sweet Maharashtrian girl in their movie, Abodh. The 19-year-old girl showed sparks of her talent in the movie which had a very thinly spread storyline. Debuting in a Rajshri film, which is in the format of simple clean family drama, the actress went on to become one of the most sensuous actresses of Bollywood, queen of the box office, where her hit films were credited more to her rather than the hero. Meet Madhuri Dixit, the girl with a 1000-watt smile.
She did not have a successful debut and unfortunately, it was followed by many flops, but she did not give up. She went on to her determination and hard work, and success could not elude her anymore. She got the female lead in N. Chandra’s romantic thriller, Tezaab, opposite Anil Kapoor and the film went on to become the year’s highest-grossing movie. Viewers went crazy on her dance number “Ek do teen…” from the movie. The movie also got her first nomination for the Filmfare Best Actress Award.
Tezaab was just the beginning, Madhuri worked in many commercially successful films such as Ram Lakhan, Prem Pratigya, Dil, Saajan, 100 days, Beta, Khalnayak, Hum Apke Hain Koun, Raja, Dil to Pagal Hai, Pukar, Devdas, etc. She was equally popular with the critics and the common viewer. She excelled in dancing, acting came naturally to her, could do any role with full conviction. With this immense talent, she won approximately 12 awards from Filmfare, Zee, Star Screen and 26 nominations. She was the actress of the Millennium in 2000 and won the BBC poll of the best actress ever.
On 17th October 1999, this diva married Dr. Shriram Nene, a cardiovascular surgeon and moved to U.S.A., but to her fan’s delight returned to Bollywood with the movie, Aaja Nachle. Though the movie did not fare well at the box office, Madhuri was appreciated by all for her performance. Since then she has been very active in Bollywood as well as Indian Television, where she has been judging on many reality shows.
Though she turns 50 on 15th May, her beauty defies age, her smile still dazzles, and her dance moves still make every heart go “Dhak Dhak”.
Shiny Ahuja: Possibly a False Rape Charge Dashed a Promising Career
Shiny Ahuja made the headlines for all the wrong reasons. He was successful and highly acclaimed in his career, but allegedly framed in rape charge caused his career to nosedive.
Shiny shares his birthday with Madhuri Dixit comes from an army background. Born in Dehradun, he studied in various army schools, wherever his father Col. Suraj Prakash Ahuja was posted. A good part of his schooling was done in Army Public School, Dhaula Kuan, New Delhi. Shiny was a sportsperson and excelled in football, volleyball, and cricket.
During this period he discovered that he had a strong passion for acting, and, this passion even won him an admission to Hansraj College, Delhi University through dramatics quota. During his college days, he started taking acting very seriously and attended several acting workshops by The National School of Drama. He joined the theatre group Tag, where he met Barry John and later on joined his acting school in Delhi.
His stint with the silver screen started by doing ad films for various products. His first commercial ad was for Pepsi, which instantly brought him into the limelight and several top agencies flooded him with offers. He had more than 40 ad films and a music video for the British-Asian Band “Stereo Nation” to his credit when he auditioned for Sudhir Mishra’s Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi, a film by Pritish Nandy Communications.
Sudhir Mishra, who had noticed Shiny in the Pepsi ad called him for the auditions. Shiny was selected from over 200 aspirants for the role of Vikram Malhotra and won stupendous critical acclaim once the film was released. Within six months, the film was screened at as many as 12 film festivals, such as Turkey, Estonia, River to River (Florence), Berlin, Edinburgh, Washington, Goa, etc.
In India, the film was released commercially in 2005 with least publicity but was noticed by both the masses and classes. Shiny won almost all the awards for best debut given for the year, the list included Filmfare, Zee Cine Awards, Star Screen Awards and IIFA and Stardust.
Shiny’s next release was in the commercial genre. His character in Mahesh Bhatt’s Gangster, despite having grey shades, touched the audiences by his vulnerability and simple innocent performance. This movie won him the Stardust “Super Star of Tomorrow” Award. His next release in a lead role was again Mahesh Bhatt’s Wo Lamhe, supposedly based on Mahesh’s relationship with Parveen Babi. The film got a mixed review, with some criticising Mahesh for showing Parveen in a bad light. Shiny, however, was once again appreciated for his sensitive performance. Shiny’s career graph was following the upward trend with fine performances in movies such as Life in a Metro, Bhool Bhullaiya, and Khoya Khoya Chand.
In 2009, Shiny was accused of raping his 18-year-old maid. The maid changed her statement and is being tried for perjury. But, Shiny was put in jail and underwent a trial. Some news sources reported that he admitted to having consensual sex with the maid. Shiny, however, denied this admittance. Shiny’s wife, Anupama, stood by him and said he was innocent. She said, “I love my husband. He is a wonderful father, a great partner and most importantly, he is an innocent man…I stand by him with all my soul, with all my heart, with all my love”. However, during the trial, the maid went back on her statement and said that it was a consensual act of sex. The trial court judge refused to accept this retraction and Shiny was convicted on the basis of circumstantial evidence and in 2011, he was sentenced to seven years of rigorous imprisonment. Shiny filed an appeal against his conviction and Bombay High Court stayed his sentence until the case is decided in the High Court.
At present, he is out on bail, the maid has been charged with perjury and despite several hearings, the case is still pending.
This one incident abruptly ended a bright career. In an industry where careers are made and destroyed every Friday, Shiny has a long gap to fill. He was fortunately offered a film in 2014, Welcome Back. The film’s release and success did not make much difference to Shiny’s career. His battle to clear his name and regain his lost career continues.
On his birthday on 15th May, we at Different Truths, wish that this extremely handsome actor overcomes the turbulence in his life and gives a fresh start to his career with more zest and zeal.
Girish Karnad, a Creative Genius, who courts Controversies
Girish Raghunath Karnad was born on 19th May 1938, in Matheran, Maharashtra, to a Konkani Brahmin family. His parents wed in unusual conditions. His mother Krishna Bai was a widow, and served as home help to Rao Saheb Dr. Karnad and his bedridden wife for five years, till they married as per Arya Samaj rituals.
Karnad’s initial schooling was in Marathi, till the family moved to Sirsi, Karnataka. Here the young Karnad was exposed to theatre, as his parents were deeply interested in moving theatres, the Natak Mandlis. Young Karnad was a passionate admirer of Yakshagana and the theatre of his village. Probably the seeds of playwright were sowed at this tender age due to this interaction with theatre.
Girish’s family moved to Dharwad, Karnataka when he was 14 years old. It was here that his further studies took place and he grew up with his two sisters and niece. After getting his Graduation Degree in mathematics and statistics, he went to Magdalen, in Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. He got his Masters of Arts Degree in philosophy, politics, and economics and was even elected the President of the Oxford Union, in 1963.
After his return to India, Girish worked with Oxford University Press, in Chennai, for seven years before resigning to pursue his passion of writing and make it his full-time job. While in Chennai, he got associated with a local amateur theatre group, The Madras Players. Girish known for his playwrights wrote in his adopted language, Kannada. He was deeply influenced by C. Rajagopalachari’s version of the Mahabharata, and his play Yayati was based on the story of King Yayati, an ancestor of the Pandavas. The play ridicules the ironies of life through the characters of Mahabharata and became a huge success when published and was translated and staged in many other Indian languages.
Girish drew a new approach in tackling contemporary issues, and agonies, and the crisis of modern man through historical and mythological characters. His play Tughlaq, an allegory on Nehruvian era established him as one of the promising playwrights in India. His love for mythology and history continued with his plays, such as,Hayavadana, sourced from 11th century Sanskrit text Kathasaritasagara, Naga Mandala based on a folk tale, which won him the Karnataka Sahitya Academy Award for the Most Creative Work.
With such creative instincts, it was just a matter of time before he ventured into other forms of art and creative media. He debuted in acting as well as screenwriting, with the Kannada film, Samskara, directed by Pattabhirama Reddy. The movie was the first Kannada movie to win the President’s Golden Lotus Award. Vamsha Vriksha, based on a Kannada novel by S.L. Bhyrappa, was his directorial debut, in 1971, and it also won him the National Film Award for Best Direction along with B.V. Karanth, who co- directed the film.
Girish acted in and directed many Kannada as well as Hindi films. In Hindi cinema, he worked in many successful movies, which included parallel cinema such as, Nishant, Manthan and many mainstream movies,Pukar, Swamy, Ek Tha Tiger, to name a few. He also worked with Nagesh Kuknoor in many films, the first of which was Iqbal, in which his role of a hard-hearted cricket coach won him critical acclaim. He was also an integral part of many films of Shyam Benegal.
Godhuli and Utsav are two remarkable Hindi movies directed by Girish Karnad. Utsav was based on 2nd century BC Sanskrit play, Mrichakatika by Shudraka. The movie, though still remembered for its bold scenes and explicit references to Kamasutra, was not very successful commercially but won three awards for Best Art Direction, Best Lyrics, and Best Playback Singing Female.
Godhuli was also co-directed by B.V. Karanth and was based on a Kannada novel Tabali Neenade Magane. The movie delicately handled the subject which revolved around the clash of modernity with traditional rural India. The film won the Best Screenplay Award at the 27th Filmfare Awards.
Besides films, Girish has been very active on television too. He is still remembered for his role of Swamy’s father in Malgudi Days, based on R.K. Narayan’s stories. He even hosted a science magazine, Turning Point on Doordarshan. He has also been the voice of A.P.J. Kalaam for the audiobook of his biography, Wings of Fire. Girish made many documentaries too, one on Kannada poet, D.R. Bendre, one on two medieval Bhakti poets of Karnataka and The Lamp in the Niche, on Sufism. His documentaries won him many National and International awards.
His awards list is a long one. Prominent among them is the Jnanpith award for Kannada, the highest literary award in India. He was also awarded the Padmabhushan and Padmasree, the Sahitya Academy Award and the Kalidas Award.
With such creative genius, a little cynicism is bound to come in. Girish has had his share of controversies. When invited to speak about his life in theatre at Tata Lit Fest, in 2012, he used the opportunity to lash out at V.S. Naipaul for his hostility towards Indian Muslims. His speech created a lot of discomfort and Girish also criticised the organisers for honouring Naipaul with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Just a few weeks after this controversial speech, Girish again created a stir by stating that Tagore was a second rate playwright and his plays were unbearable. He also created a furor among the right wing groups by demanding to name Bangalore airport after Tipu Sultan. He, however, rendered an apology for the same.
Girish fearlessly advocates freedom of expression and multiculturalism and criticises religious fundamentalism and Hindutva in the country. He vocally condemned the demolition of Babri Masjid and has opposed RSS and BJP on many occasions. He even opposed the candidature of Narendra Modi for the post of the prime minister.
Though he turns 79 on 19th May, age seems to be no hindrance to him. He is still active in films, theatre, his creative juices are still flowing and his saturation point seems to be too far right now.
On his birthday, Different Truths wishes him success and happiness in life.
Nawazuddin Siddiqui: An Intense Actor with a Promising Future
He does not need punch packed dialogues for the audience to clap. He does not have six pack abs to flaunt. He is very ordinary looking but his intense eyes pierce through your heart. He performs with his expressions and eyes. He is Nawazuddin Siddiqui.
Born in the small town of Budhana, Muzzafarnagar, in a peasant family, Nawaz was the eldest among his nine siblings. After graduating in science, he worked as a chemist in a petrochemical company but for a very short period of time. The boredom brought by this life took him to Delhi in pursuit of new openings in life. Here he realised his hidden love for acting after watching a play, and very soon he got associated with a theatre group, “Sakshi”, and worked with actors like Manoj Bajpayee and Saurabh Shukla. Eventually, he got admission in National School of Drama and moved to Mumbai after graduating from the NSD.
Mumbai awaited him with long hard years of struggle. Nawaz had no work, no place to stay. He requested an NSD senior for accommodation and was permitted with the condition that he would have to cook meals for him. Nawaz got a few small roles in films such as Sarfarosh, Munna Bhai M.B.B.S, till his role in Anurag Kashyap’sBlack Friday, which made others notice him and he started getting powerful major roles.
There was no looking back since then for this versatile actor. The movie Patang, his first film with him in a lead role, was premiered at the Berlin Film Festival and Tribeca Film Festival. The film was highly acclaimed and Nawaz got immense praise. This was followed by many praiseworthy performances, be it the reporter in Peepli Live or the ruthless intelligence officer in Kahani, which made him a household name. Post Kahani, Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs of Wasseypur, furthered his fame. His film, Miss Lovely, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and Nawaz considers his role in the film as his “most real performance so far”.
Nawaz worked in many typical Hindi masala movies such as Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Talaash, Raaes and was appreciated in all. His role in Manjhi -The Mountain Man and Haramkhor seal the fact that he is one of the finest actors of today. He was even awarded the Best Actor at New York Indian Film Festival for Haramkhor.
With a long list of awards associated with his name, including National Film Award (Special Jury Award), this intense performer is still hungry for more. His upcoming movie, Mom with Sridevi has already generated much curiosity with his bespectacled bald look.
The Different Truths family, on his 43rd birthday, on 19th May, wishes him more success and accolades in life and blessings for his beautiful family, his wife, Anjali, daughter, Shora, and son, Yaani.
Photos from the internet.
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