It’s All In The Family (IANS Sunday Special: Column: B-Town)


The film industry has had this thing about attracting a lot of relatives as in cousins, bros-in-law as well as distant family members after one of them enters the industry and manages to make something of himself. This has been so especially of those who come from Punjab and attain stardom.

The families of actors like Raj Kapoor, Rajendra Kumar, Dilip Kumar, B.R. Chopra, Dharmendra, Dev Anand, Ashok Kumar, relatives by blood or by marriage, were spread far and wide within the industry. So much so that you had to be very careful when you criticised the film of one maker, let alone his person in front of another. For all you know, you may have just invited an argument or, worse still, a fight!

That was an era when one successful film personality attracted a horde of relatives and friends to follow him. The Raj Kapoor family is said to be spread the widest. There are so many families connected to the Kapoors either through blood relations, or through marriage! And, that Kapoor tradition still carries on with a branch still active in the film industry and ready to extend the family ties still further.

If you trace the family connections of the Kapoors, you will find it mind-boggling. Between the patriarch, Prithvi Raj Kapoor, and three brothers, Raj, Shammi and Shashi, and their wards, the family was vast enough, but almost all of them have extended it mainly through the film industry.

Dev Anand and Rajendra Kumar’s are two families that enjoyed multiple representation in films. But, today, there is little or no representation of both the families.

Dev Anand, along with his brothers, Chetan and Vijay, had all within the family a production house and directors, and all three loved to act. Chetan’s two sons, Ketan and Vivek, as well as Dev’s son, Suneil, have not been able to carry the legacy forward, but the youngest of the lot, Vaibhav, son of Vijay, has plans to revive the past glory of his father. The two others, Navin Nischol and Parikshit Sahni, are related by marriage to the Anand family. Nephew Shekhar Kapur always remains in the news.

As for Rajendra Kumar, from Sunil Dutt to Sanjay Dutt, and the late Ramesh Behl to Shrishti Behl, along with Goldie Behl and Sonali Bendre, actors Kamal Kapoor and Ravi Kapoor, director Kapil Kapoor and filmmaker O.P. Ralhan happened to be relatives and enjoyed a status in films in their own right. Today, the activities of these families are little known.

Similar is the case with Manoj Kumar, who tried to make the career of his sons, Kunal Goswami and Vishal, besides that of his brother, Rajiv Goswami.

Ashok Kumar’s Ganguly family was spread far and Ashok himself was a superstar in his own right, while brother Kishore Kumar ruled background singing for a long time, besides making films of his own choice. The other brother Anoop was also an actor. The family extends to Bharati Jaffery, Preeti Ganguly, Deven Verma, Anuradha Patel, Kanwaljeet Singh, Amit Kumar, Madhubala, Yogita Bali and Leena Chandavarkar.

Then there is the Bhatt family, scions of old-time filmmaker Nanabhai Bhatt. That family has really sustained and expanded within the film industry, now led by Mahesh Bhatt and filmmaker Mukesh Bhatt, with half-brother Robin Bhatt being a script writer. The rest of the family includes Pooja Bhatt, Rahul Bhatt, Vishesh Bhatt, Soni Razdan, Alia Bhatt (who may extend the family soon to add another few score), late producer Darshan Sabarwal, his sons Suneel and Dharmesh, Mohit Suri, Udita Gowami, and so on.

Guru Dutt had two brothers, both of whom turned to filmmaking. Atmaram took over the affairs of the banner, Guru Dutt Films, and continued to make films. Devi Dutt, the younger brother, turned to filmmaking after a stint in the ad world and made some remarkable films such as ‘Aakrosh’ and ‘Masoom’. Guru Dutt’s sons, Tarun and Arun, also took to making films.

There are some stars who tried to launch their brothers as actors. But, in almost all such cases, they have not succeeded. That is strange, maybe because the newcomers are compared to the successful star himself and remained under the shadow of the senior kin. Those being very few examples, the trend is to launch sons by these stars as well as filmmakers, either directly under the home production or through a near and dear one.

So, there are examples of Raj Kapoor launching his sons Randhir, Rishi and Rajeev Kapoor, Dharmendra launching both Sunny and Bobby, Rajendra Kumar – Kumar Gaurav, Manoj Kumar – Kunal Goswami, Feroz Khan – Fardeen, Vinod Khanna – Aksheya, Shatrughan Sinha – Luv Sinha. Karan Deol, Anil Kapoor, Sanjay Kapoor, Bhushan Kumar, Aamir Khan, Hrithik Roshan, Uday Chopra, Shiv Darshan, have all been launched by their families.

It may sound strange, but not every filmmaker who aspires to launch his son as an actor, ever thinks of launching his daughter into the film trade, let alone an acting career! In fact, almost in all cases, the daughters are kept away from the arc light as well as the limelight!

Some film folks prefer that their wards are launched through another friendly house. Kunal and Karan Kapoor (sons of Shashi Kapoor), Sanjay Dutt, Abhishek Bachchan, Mahaakshay Chakraborty are some names that come to mind.There are few in the present generation as well, like Ranbir Kapoor, Tiger Shroff, Arjun Kapoor, Varun Dhawan, Harshvardhan Kapoor, Ahan Shetty, Vicky Kaushalal, all from film families but not launched by their respective families.

There are not many star sons to launch, but there is new talent entering every day. So, a lot of aspirants come to try their luck. Also, the field is not limited to only films anymore. Since the days of Doordarshan, the field has been getting bigger and wider. Numerous serials are being produced for both the television channels and the OTT platforms.

These new entrants come in pairs, brothers and sisters. For instance, Katrina Kaif’s sister Isabelle follows her, so does Shahid Kapoor’s half-brother IshanKhattar (sister Sana Kapoor vanished after one film, ‘Shaandaar’). Vicky Kaushal is being joined by Sunny Kaushal. Aliya Shetty and brother Ahan, and many others.

It is a huge industry and growing. Brothers, sisters, all are welcome.