Dev Patel, of Slumdog Millionaire fame, has topped a recent survey of the Most Bankable South Asian Stars Worldwide.While we may or may not endorse it, he has beaten the likes of Shabana Azmi, Om Puri, Anil Kapoor, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, and of course the current darling of the West — Freida Pinto — to bag the top spot. No mean achievement for a first-time film actor! But, while many may rejoice at the fact, is Dev’s win really something to do with his special talent? Or, is his just a case of ‘flavour of the season’? Filmmaker Apoorva Lakhia thinks it is the latter. “These lists are generally compiled not on the basis of calibre, but rather it’s about what’s ‘in’ now. SM has been a huge success, and Dev and Freida have been all over the place.
It’s all about clout and recall value. You cannot definitely compare one-film wonders like Freida and Dev to seasoned actors like Shabanaji and Om Puriji,” says the filmmaker. Before SM happened, the 19-year-old actor was best known for his television series — Skins. But, it was all thanks to Danny Boyle that he and co-star Freida became overnight sensations. Says actor Chitrangada Singh, “Their popularity has to do with the impact of the film. The film was definitely bigger than the cast. Though both Dev and Freida are promising, it’s too early to put them on a pedestal. It remains to be seen what they do in their next film.” And, what happened to Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan, who did not even feature in the top ten?
Says student Shalaka Wadekar, “I’m really surprised that Big B and SRK are not in the top ten! You cannot make a list of the Most Bankable South Asian Stars Worldwide without mentioning these two stalwarts. It just proves how senseless the survey is.” Filmmaker Goldie Behl seconds, “In my opinion SRK and, maybe, Rajnikanth should have topped the list.” Come to think of it, does the fact that some of our stars have made it to the top ten list change anything? Does it increase their market value on the home soil? Filmmaker Mahesh Manjrekar feels, “We give too much of importance to what the West thinks about us. Why can’t we believe that we are as good as them, if not better?
It’s time we realised we have our own identity.” Mehul Karnik, an entrepreneur, agrees, “Why bother about which star is bankable in the West? It’s the Indian market that filmmakers need to worry about.” All said and done, it’s ultimately the box office that decides which star is bankable or not. So, till another SM happens, it’s Dev Patel singing Jai ho!