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5 December 2016

My Favourites: Heroes – 1 (40s-70s)

I had earlier made a list of favourite heroines from the 40s-70s, based on an idea that Ava of The Pink Bee had. At that time, I had mentally decided I would also do a 'favourite heroes' list, along the same lines. 

Like the heroines, the heroes from this period have given me hours of entertainment and enjoyment an enjoyment, in fact, that continues, because I blog about films from that period (generally), and that gives me an excuse to keep watching their films. These are the actors with whom I grew up; they were my reference points for films. As with the heroines, many of these actors of my childhood (and my father's youth) have left us bereft. What lives on is their legacy, their body of work, their youth, middle age and even old age captured on crackly celluloid, and our love for them enshrined forever in our memories of them.

Raj Kapoor made his way into my consciousness early on; my father, a huge fan, introduced him to me and infused me with an appreciation of his work that has never ebbed. But my first 'hero' was when I was a child; Amitabh Bachchan had already usurped the position of superstar from Rajesh Khanna. I grew up idolising him, and have narrated elsewhere how my love affair with Amitabh began. I was only introduced to Rajesh Khanna through Door Darshan, which regularly aired his movies. As did the heroes of my father's generation, who all made their way into my living room in their miniature forms, or made my acquaintance in the ramshackle Bangalore theatre that showed re-runs. But it was only when I 'met' Shammi Kapoor that I, until then, a faithful acolyte of Amitabh Bachchan, set foot on the slippery slope of cinematic infidelity. Then, Dev Anand completed my downfall. I had first been introduced to him through Janeman, if I remember correctly, and hadn't been all that impressed. But meeting Dev in his shwet-shyam avatar caused my errant heart to skip several beats. From then on, I became wholly (and unapologetically) non-monogamous in my cinematic fandom. Amitabh had to share space with Shammi and Dev and Raj and Shashi and Rishi...  as you can see, the Kapoors are well-represented. 

Funnily enough, unlike the heroines, there were perhaps just a couple of heroes whom I could enshrine forever in a particular role. In a particular genre, perhaps, but very few of them had that one iconic role that I could pin on them. But as with the heroines, this is a purely subjective list of heroes who have either made me swoon over their drop dead good looks, or impressed me with their immense talent or, if I'm lucky, done both at the same time.  In no particular order then, though most regular readers of my blog know my particular favourites... 

Raj Kapoor
Career: 1947-1984
Debut: Neelkamal (1947)
Forever enshrined as: 'The Tramp'
Memorable roles: Awara, Shree 420, Phir Subah Hogi, Teesri Kasam, Jagte Raho
My favourite role: Ram Mehra in Phir Subah Hogi
Raj Kapoor was not merely a 'hero'. The original showman, Raj Kapoor donned many hats writer, producer, director, editor, actor. Born into theatre and later, films, Raj Kapoor always wanted to become a music director. Before that, however, he was assistant to Kidar Sharma, and then before he knew it, was facing the camera as hero, opposite another newcomer making her adult debut Madhubala. Almost immediately afterwards, he began his first film made on a shoestring budget with a cast whose average age was 23. (Raj himself was barely 24 when the film released.) Faced with difficulties during the shooting of the film, he invested the entire profits from Aag into the establishing his own studio - RK. His next film Barsaat would be shot in the still-incomplete studio. A couple of years later would come his magnum opus, Awara. Alongside, he also acted in a slew of films, under directors as varied as Mehboob Khan, Kidar Sharma, PL Santoshi, KA Abbas, Shombhu and Amit Moitra, etc. 

Why I like Ram: I like complex characters. Raj's Ram is a man torn apart by guilt. He's that most troubled of humans, a man who commits a crime in a good cause. When he realises that someone, somewhere, has to pay the consequences of his actions, he's caught by the prickings of his own conscience. It is not the police or society that judges him; instead, it is his personal sense of right and wrong. Even while he falls apart, the temptation is strong to keep himself safe. Raj Kapoor internalised that struggle as he comes to terms with right and wrong.

The song: Oh, so many, many songs, especially those from Phir Subah Hogi  and Teesri Kasam, but the one song that I absolutely love, and is among my all-time favourites is Zinda hoon is tarah ke humein zindagi milein... from Aag. To me, this is a song that voices the depths of desperation a man can feel. While Raj Kapoor has said that his bond with Mukesh was forged during the recording of Chhod gaye baalam from Barsaat, it seems to me that here, Mukesh gave voice to the cry of a man's soul. 

Dev Anand
Times of India
Career: 1946-2011
Debut: Hum Ek Hain (1946)
Forever enshrined as: 'Evergreen Hero'
Memorable roles: Guide, Baazi, Bambai ka Babu, Kala Pani, Hum Dono
My favourite role: Inspector Shekhar in C.I.D.
Dev Anand was the industry's Peter Pan he just never grew old. At least in his own eyes. In an earlier post, I wrote of him, "...whose irrepressible indomitable spirit has probably never heard the word 'impossible', and who wouldn't know what to do with it, if he did." If he hadn't died in 2011, he would probably have been making movies still. Dev Anand had an ear for music, and the films produced under the Nav Ketan banner always boasted good music, first under the baton of SD Burman and later, that of his son, RD. While not considered a 'great' actor, Dev Anand had a number of really good films, especially those directed by his brothers, Chetan and Vijay, as well those directed by his friend, Guru Dutt, and his protégé, Raj Khosla. He did have quite a few competent performances, and typically, his films were always good fun. The story was king, the heroines usually had strong roles and characterisations, there were good songs, and typically, Dev played a flawed character himself. Guide became the apogee of a stellar career, and Dev threw himself into the role.

Why I like Shekhar: He is keen and focused on the job at hand; when asked to choose between his girlfriend and his duty, he unapologetically chooses the former. As the fugitive on the run from the law, he brought a sense of urgency and despair to his performance. Not yet trapped by his mannerisms which came to define him, Dev turned in an extremely restrained performance as a man who not only has to keep one step ahead of his erstwhile colleagues who are nipping at his heels, but also try to capture his nemesis, who always seems to be one step ahead of him. Dev Anand was very handsome and extremely dashing in his well-cut suits and slick-backed hair.

The song: While there are so many songs picturised on Dev Anand that I absolutely love, this one, to me, characterises who Dev Anand, the man, was, and how he lived his life:  Main zindagi ka saath nibhaata chala gaya from Hum Dono. This was how Dev Anand lived his life, with no time for regrets. The lyrics (Sahir Ludhianvi) formed, according to Dev Anand, the underlying philosophy of life.  

Dilip Kumar
Career: 1944-1998
Debut: Jwar Bhata
Forever enshrined as: 'Tragedy King'
Memorable roles: Devdas, Andaz, Naya Daur, Mughal-e-Azam, Amar, Sangdil, Gunga Jumna
My favourite role: Khan saheb/Azaad in Azaad
Satyajit Ray called him the 'ultimate method actor'; he's the touchstone for every new actor who came after him, from Amitabh Bachchan to Shah Rukh Khan; he, more than his contemporaries, was the complete actor (Raj Kapoor being more interested in directing, and Dev Anand donning more hats than there were hats in the world), throwing himself into his roles with an intensity that eventually took its toll on the man. After Devdas, where the actor learnt to drink to give verisimilitude to his role as an alcoholic, he needed psychiatric treatment to overcome his depression. In a long career, filled with some fantastic roles, Dilip Kumar would come to be eulogised for his 'natural' performances, the influence of his senior and idol, Ashok Kumar. While Devdas as a character does not appeal to me, Dilip Kumar's performance was probably the most definitive of all the adaptations. But I cannot think of anyone else playing Prince Salim, for instance, a role in which his silences said as much as his dialogues did. In between, he did a whole range and variety of roles, throwing himself into social dramas like Naya Daur and Gunga Jumna, as he did into light-hearted roles in Aan, Kohinoor and Azaad.

Why I like Azaad: I know I should say 'Prince Salim' or 'Gunga' or something, and those are films and roles that I really like., but there's something about this role and the way Dilip Kumar played the dual characters that I really, really like. And especially because he was extremely dishy playing the swashbuckler. (Yes, I'm shallow like that.) 

The song: Again, so many, many songs that I like, but Ye hawa ye raat ye chandni from Sangdil is a particular favourite. It's a complex melody (with Sajjad Hussain as the music director, what else do you expect?) and its emotions are complex as well on the face of it, Dilip is singing paeans to Shammi's beauty, but there's a cynicism that runs through as he queries why he isn't more attracted to her

Shammi Kapoor
Career: 1953-2011
Debut: Jeevan Jyoti (1953)
Forever enshrined as: The 'Yahoo' star
My favourite role: Chandrasekhar in Junglee
Sigh. Look at the man. I mean, look at him! Can you understand why my heart that beat only for Amitabh Bachchan should start fluttering helplessly when I encountered him on screen? I liked him in all his avatars the 'moustachioed sissy' (I didn't think he looked sissy at all, by the way), the clean-shaven hunk, the old teddy bear... Like Dev Anand, whose rejection of certain roles made Shammi's career take off (and even sustain), Shammi Kapoor's films too had good music. With that ear for music that seemed to be an innate talent of the senior Kapoors, Shammi took great interest in the songs, even sitting in on recordings and unerringly choosing the songs he wanted that would eventually go on to become chartbusters. He forged a great relationship with Mohammed Rafi, who would go on to become his voice, just like Mukesh had become his brother, Raj's. After a long and bleak period where none of his films seemed to work, Shammi's star was to turn bright with Nasir Hussain's Tumsa Nahin Dekha. Hussain would hone that persona in Dil Deke Dekho the following year. Shammi's films were total entertainers, and he played the quintessential hero. Yet there were flashes of the acting he was capable of, if he had had a chance Professor, Andaz, Brahmchari... 

Why I like him: If I had to pick one role out of the many that he played, it would have to be Chandrashekhar in Junglee. This is the film that introduced me to Shammi Kapoor, the actor, the star, and while I was too young to appreciate his total yumminess, it set the stage for a later film, Professor. (I would be hard put to choose between these two.) As the 'junglee' who is transformed by love, Shammi made his transformation believable, and endearing. He is restrained in his wooing of Saira, unlike his persistent (irritating?) wooing of his other heroines, there's a huge respect for her Raj, and his faith in his beloved is implicit. He will not believe ill of her even when she is compelled to lie to save another's honour. 

The song: Sigh. This is even harder. How do I pick? Well, if forced to, then I would have to say Hum aur tum aur ye sama from Dil Deke Dekho. (I dithered between this and Ehsaan tera hoga mujhpar from Junglee.) There's an innocence to this song, a promise made, a promise kept, a subtle sensuousness, the swirling mists, the barely controlled energy of the man... it's the stuff romance is made of. Can you blame my heart for missing a beat? 

Dharmendra
Career: 1960-
Debut: Dil Bhi Tera Hum Bhi Tere
Forever enshrined as:
Memorable roles: Chupke Chupke, Satyakam, Anupama, Sholay, Phool aur Patthar
My favourite role: Parimal Tripathi in Chupke Chupke
He was once voted 'the most handsome man in the world' and it's easy enough to see why. It's said women swooned when he took off his shirt in Phool aur Pathar, and it's easy to understand that as well. But Dharmendra was not just a pretty face, even if the failure of Satyakam hit him badly, and he later went on to become the face of the 'action hero'. Like Rajesh Khanna after him, Dharmendra had won a talent contest, and come to Bombay to try his luck in films. While he played bit roles and second leads for a long time, it was Phool aur Patthar opposite Meena Kumari that would catapult him to the big league. (Two important films Bandini and Haqeeqat would come before this, but this was his first solo break, and what's more, he was the lead.) Alongside, he also acted in films that required him to do more than look good Anupama, Satyakam, Majhli Didi, etc., would serve to showcase his talent. Soon, he would go on to star in more mainstream commercial cinema as the quintessential hero, opposite his dream girl, Hema Malini. 

Why I like Parimal Tripathi: Feeling insecure when his newly-wedded wife sings the praises of her brother-in-law, botany professor Parimal decides to see if he can get the better of his wife's hero and win a place for himself in her heart. As his wife's brother cautions him, if he fails, he will be in deeper trouble. But the good professor is game, pulling in not only his wife to help him, but also his best friend to take Parimal's place while he disguises himself as the new driver. It was a comedy of manners, and Dharmendra exposed a fine talent for comedy, affectionately exposing his new relative's pedantry and winning his wife's admiration and respect. 

The song: It has to be Aap ke haseen rukh from Bahaarein Phir Bhi Aayegi. I did dither over choosing Ya dil ki suno from Anupama but I decided I like this more. While Dharmendra is the last person you expect to be playing a piano (and he looked very awkward doing so, too), he did a good job of emoting to this beautiful romantic number. Singing to the woman he loves, he's unaware that her sister believes he's singing to her. Coupled with Mohammed Rafi's voice, and Dharmendra's drop-dead good looks, this is the quintessential romantic ballad. 

Shashi Kapoor 
Career: 1961-1998
Debut: Dharmputra (1961)
Forever enshrined as: ----
Memorable roles: Utsav, Kalyug, Junoon, Dharmputra, Householder, Jab Jab Phool Khile, Deewar
My favourite role: Karan Singh from Kalyug
I actually wavered over this choice. It was 'Hmm, do I want to choose from his art house cinema, or from popular fare?' and I very nearly picked Arun Kumar Mathur from Prem Patra, because he gave such a fantastic performance there as a young science student who is blinded in an accident, and he was primarily a mainstream actor. But in in Shyam Benegal's retelling of the Mahabharata, he's playing Karna, one of my favourite characters from our epics, and he played him well.  Funnily enough, he acted in some execrable roles, signing them for the money (that he could then invest into Prithvi Theatres and Film Valas, his production company) that his eldest brother called him 'Taxi Kapoor', scoffing that Shashi would sign a film when his cab stopped at a traffic light. But Shashi funded the parallel movement heavily, producing some very good cinema indeed. (In fact, I would have picked his Vikas Pande from New Delhi Times, if the movie was actually available for viewing. It won him a much-deserved National Award.) 

Shashi Kapoor was also known as the 'jinxed Kapoor' because all his films flopped one after the other, and it was Nanda who helped him out by agreeing to star opposite him when no other heroine would agree to it. It makes it all the more sad that when he became a star, he refused to star opposite Mumtaz, saying she was a B-film heroine.

Why I like Karan Singh: In Benegal's retelling, the Kurukshetra was the corporate battlefield, and Shashi played Karan, a man brought up by the patriarch, navigating the minefield of his unexplained parentage, befriended by the eldest son of one branch of the family, and pitted against men he learns only much later are his own brothers. He turned in a very restrained performance in a complex role in a complex film. 

The song: This was interesting: Shashi doesn't seem to have many great solos picturised on him; most of the songs of his that I like are duets. Then I remembered one song from a film that I had reviewed a few months ago: Bhool sakta hai bhala from Dharmputra. Two lovers, shyly admitting their attraction to each other, he through his poetry, she through her expressions. Sahir's lyrics are sublime, and bring forth the tenderness and the tentativeness of first love, and Shashi, in his first adult role, emotes beautifully.  

Rajesh Khanna
Career: 1966-2014
Debut: Aakhri Khat (1966)
Forever enshrined as: 'The First Superstar
Memorable roles: Amar Prem, Aradhana, Kati Patang, Ittefaq, Khamoshi
My favourite role: Dilip Roy in Ittefaq
The winner of the All-India Talent Contest, Rajesh Khanna would go on to become the first superstar of the Indian screen, knocking back 15 blockbusters in a row. At the heights of his superstardom, his popularity was unprecedented, and anything he touched turned into gold. Like other successful romantic actors before him, Rajesh Khanna knew the value of a good song, and soon formed an unbeatable combination with Kishore and RD Burman. Romance there had been before Rajesh; certainly, Shammi Kapoor had personified romance to a generation of young women. But unlike Shammi's macho posturing, and lithe animal lope, Rajesh Khanna fashioned the old-fashioned courteous romance. Not for him the aggressive wooing; Kaka lifted an eyebrow, tilted his head, crinkled his eyes, and smiled and women swooned. Funnily enough, while the stereotype of a romantic hero endured, he was probably one of the first 'heroes' to take backstage to his heroines: most of his films had a very strong woman protagonist, sharing equal screen space and importance. He also acted in a wide variety of roles within the constraints of mainstream cinema. Kaka's films were famed for their music, and you could easily watch one, knowing that everything would come alright in the end. There was almost always a 'happily ever after'. (Namak Haram and Anand were probably the only exceptions.) 

Why I like Dilip Roy: He's a man accused of one murder (his wife's), who pretends to be insane and then escapes from the mental asylum, only to be framed for another murder. Based on Signpost to Murder, Rajesh Khanna did a fine job as an escaped convict who seems to have jumped from the frying pan into the fire. 

The song: Like the heroes before him, Rajesh Khanna had such lovely songs picturised on him that it's so difficult to pick just one. But if I were forced to, it would be Chingari koi bhadke from Amar Prem. The story of three misfits who find solace in each other's company, Rajesh Khanna's Anand Babu, romantic and cynical at the same time, has no illusions about the society he lives in; he narrates his take on love and relationships to Pushpa (Sharmila Tagore) as they sit by the river one evening. 

Sanjeev Kumar
Career: 1960-1985
Debut: Hum Hindustani (1960)
Forever enshrined as: -
Memorable roles: Parichay, Anamika, Sholay, Koshish,  Aandhi,  Dastak, Angoor
My favourite role: Ashok in Angoor
Sanjeev Kumar might have let himself go rather soon, but when he was younger, he was a very, very handsome man. He was also a very natural actor, slipping easily into the skin of the character, even if he was playing father to heroes who were barely a couple of years younger. He was one of Gulzar's favourite heroes, and acted in a total of nine films with the director, mostly as elder characters. Parichay, Aandhi, Mausam all had him playing characters much older than his real age. Of course, his most famous role was as the revenge-seeking Thakur from Sholay. But it was also films like Shatranj ke Khiladi, his films with Gulzar, Dastak, etc., that cemented his stature as an actor. Angoor and Pati, Patni aur Woh gave us a glimpse at his ability to perform deadpan humour. He won many well-deserved awards, including the National Award for Best Actor for Koshish and Dastak. His first Filmfare statuette was for Shikar, where he played a police inspector on a murder investigation. 

Why I like Ashok: As the husband who is irritated with the continuous squabbling at home, Sanjeev Kumar was excellent; however, it is as his obsessed-with-detective-novels twin brother that Sanjeev really showed his penchant for comedy. The deadpan humour, the understated performance in the most outrageous scenes, his fear of 'gaaangs' and his pretend-nonchalance while trying to outwit these hypothetical criminal gangs were the stuff that has  to be experienced. 

The song: It is rather funny that while Sanjeev Kumar acted in such serious, mature roles for most of his career, it is Hawa ke saath saath from Seeta aur Geeta that always comes to mind when I think of him. (That, and for some reason, Thande thande paani from Pati Patni aur Woh.) There's a carefree feel to the song, a sense of freedom for a seemingly stuffy doctor who runs into a free-spirited damsel who steals his heart.  

Amitabh Bachchan
Career: 1970-
Debut: Saat Hindustani
Forever enshrined as: 'The Angry Young Man'
Memorable roles: Zanjeer, Deewar, Don, Amar Akbar Anthony, Sholay, Abhimaan....
My favourite role: Vijay Pal Singh in Kaala Patthar
Where do I even begin? My first love, an enduring relationship over the years, I didn't even fall in love with 'Amitabh Bachchan'; I fell in love with 'Jai'. And wept and wept when I thought he had died. (In my defence, I was barely 7.) Until I watched Anthony in Amar Akbar Anthony the very next week, and fell in love with him. That's when I realised I loved the man. Not the characters, though I loved the characters as well. Well, Amitabh may have become enshrined as the 'angry young man' but even while he was playing the idol of disenchanted youth everywhere, he was doing roles as diverse as Moti in Saudagar, Birju in Bansi Birju, Alok in Alaap, Subir in Abhimaan... a singer, a poet, a gur seller. To me, he was the superstar; Rajesh Khanna was a mere has-been. (Unfair to Kaka, I know now, but I was a 'fan'.) As he grew from strength to strength, my fandom grew with him, and later, I admired him for his courage in not filing for bankruptcy, working on TV and any producer or ad company who would hire him so he could repay every single penny he owed. I watched in disbelief as a man in 60s reinvented himself, so that a decade later, he's still going strong. I like that, with nothing to lose, he's stepped out of the constraints of his image, and seems to be having fun doing a variety of roles. 

Why I like Vijay Pal Singh: He's a man tortured by demons past. A man, whose one wrong decision leads to him being branded a coward and a traitor. A man who does not fear death because he's dying every single moment. A man who seeks death because with death will come release. A man whose redemption depends on proving to himself that he has what it takes. I loved the complexity of the character, and the way in which Amitabh portrayed him.

The song: While he was not known as a romantic hero, there were plenty of films in which one got to see the softer side of Amitabh Bachchan (and these were visible in his so-called 'angry young man' phase as well). One of my all-time favourites is Rhim jhim gire saawan from Manzil. For one, the song is an incredible composition; it's beautifully rendered, and apart from the joy of watching Amitabh on screen, it brings back memories of Bombay and the rains. Sheer nostalgia, for what it's worth.  

Vinod Khanna
Career: 1968-1982, 1987-
Debut: Man ka Meet (1968)
Forever enshrined as: ---
Memorable roles: Mere Apne, Amar Akbar Anthony, Achanak, Parvarish...
My favourite role: Major Ranjeet Khanna in Achanak
Vinod Khanna was the man who was most likely in the early 70s to give Amitabh Bachchan a run for his money.  His rugged good looks and his muscled build made him, along with Dharmendra, the two heroes who actually looked like they could fight off multiple villains at the same time. Making his debut as villain in Sunil Dutt's Man ka Meet, Vinod Khanna continued to play villainous or supporting roles until he got his first break as hero in Hum Tum aur Woh. (Anyone remember Priya praaneshwari?) He followed it up with a strong role in Gulzar's multi-'hero' Mere Apne. Thereafter, he made a successful transition to playing solo protagonist, or an equal role in multi-starrer films, mostly with his closest rival, Amitabh Bachchan. Vinod didn't have the draw that Amitabh did, initially, but he was there, close on the latter's heels until, at the height of his career, Vinod threw it all away to become a follower of Rajneesh. Then, after five years, he returned, proving to be one of the few heroes who could successfully 'come back' and make a place for himself. 

Why I like Major Ranjeet Khanna: I seem to like flawed, complex characters. Major Ranjeet Khanna, loosely based on Commander KM Nanavati, is a paradox the sensitive soldier. In fact, the whole film is a set of paradoxes: he's an army man who's killed many during the war; he's being tried for murdering his wife and her paramour. On the other end, there's a doctor who's trying to save his life, only so the State will not be cheated out of its revenge. Ranjeet is a man who's trying to make sense of a world in which he does not know the rules; living by the army's rules, he can justify his actions. It's a film that begets discussion, and a character that one sympathises with, even while feeling aghast at how his actions play out on screen. The moral ambiguity makes the viewer question his own belief system. 

The song: Koi hota jisko apna from Mere Apne, which tugs at my heartstrings. Everyone wants someone to call their own. Even disenfranchised youth who, with nothing else to live for, end up forming gangs to mark out their own turf. The loss of a woman who once loved him dearly haunts Shyam, and he gives voice to the despair and loneliness that haunt him.

Rishi Kapoor
Career: 1973-
Debut: Bobby (1973)
Forever enshrined as:
Memorable roles: Bobby, Amar Akbar Anthony, Khel Khel Mein, Sargam, Karz, Prem Rog
My favourite role: Akbar Illahabadi in Amar Akbar Anthony
Like Amitabh Bachchan, Rishi Kapoor (Amitabh's second favourite 'heroine' according to wags, the first being his uncle, Shashi Kapoor) reinvented himself and is acting in disparate roles, unconstrained by being the protagonist and bearing the weight of the film on his shoulders. Neither is he trapped by his image as a 'lover boy' apparently, 23 new heroines debuted opposite him. Today, he's as game to play Dawood in D-Day, a corrupt cop and real estate maverick in Aurangazeb, as he is to play a gay principal in Students of the Year or a nonagenarian in Kapoor and Sons. Like uncle Shammi, Rishi Kapoor's solo films were usually romantic films, and one could generally be assured of a certain modicum of entertainment. Unlike many other heroes who found their careers stalling when the Amitabh wave rolled around, Rishi continued, secure in his own niche, as well as playing parallel roles in Amitabh starrers. Often, he was there to provide the humour, the romance and the songs. From the roly-poly youngster in the throes of first love in Mera Naam Joker (for which he won a National Award) to the teeny-bopper who set girls' hearts ablaze in Bobby to the relaxed actor he is today, Rishi has come a long way. The man is self-admittedly arrogant (as a colleague will testify), but has a wicked sense of humour - his Twitter handle reads. 'Son of a famous father, father of a famous son'. 

Why I like Akbar Illahabadi: Because he was fun and didn't seem to take anything seriously. Besides, he had the best songs in the films, and managed to make see-through shirts glamourous. Because his pairing with Neetu Singh was fantastic, and his chemistry with frequent hero, Amitabh, is amazing. Their scenes together crackle with that comfort.

The song: Dard-e-dil from Karz. For some reason, even though Rishi has a whole lot of lovely songs picturised on him, this is the one that always comes to mind when I remember Rishi Kapoor. Similar to Main shaayar toh nahin from Bobby in essence, where he is inspired to sing because of a glimpse of a girl who captures his heart, Rishi was one of the few actors who looked at home playing a guitar or a violin, or indeed, any musical instrument.

Four decades of film-making threw up much male pulchritude and immense talent. I was trying to keep this list down to a dozen, so I had to cut some people out. So, Balraj Sahni and Joy Mukherjee were also on the long list, and I thought long and hard before settling on the final list. Please feel free to add your favourite heroes and the songs that you most associate with them, in the comments. 

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