As ‘Chennai Express’ shocks us all by zipping past the 100-crore barrier, I just learnt two things: a) You can do the lungi dance without wearing a lungi; and b) You can turn any dud into a blockbuster if you persuade SRK into playing the dimple-cheeked ‘Rahul’ all over again.
Such is the magic of the name. The previous two times, Shahrukh, donned the role of ‘Rahul’, he set the Ganga, Yamuna and Sutlej on fire by raking in 16.6 crores with Yes Boss and 42.3 crores with Dil Toh Pagal Hai. In today’s terms, that’s a whopping 250 crores of rokda. Now you know why stars fall over each other to appropriate the lucky name.
As per my estimates, there have been at least 22 Bollywood films in the last 23 years with Rahul as the lead protagonist. Everyone from Aamir, Salman, Saif, Hrithik, Sanjay, Abhishek to that chocolate boy Imran, they’ve all found some lame excuse to embrace it.
You’d be surprised to know that the actor who started the Rahulmania was none other than Rahul Roy. He kicked the box office butt as ‘Rahul Roy’ in the musical hit Aashiqui, way back in 1990.
Another character name that gives Rahul a run for his money is ‘Raj Malhotra’. 11 heroes have carried that business card in an assortment of flicks. While King Khan may have immortalised it in DDLJ, the credit for squatting on that franchise goes to Akshay Kumar. He’s played the Raj Malhotra card, an incredible 5 times. I think the Khiladiyon Ke Khiladi opted to repeat the suave Punjabi Raj act again and again as his real name is Rajiv Bhatia – Raj for short!
Surprisingly, no film before the nineties ever featured a hero named Rahul or Raj Malhotra. Even a Raj Kapoor preferred the Mononym ‘Raj’ or ‘Raju’ to a Raj Malhotra. ‘Vijay’ was the rage in the fifties, sixties, seventies and eighties. Dev Anand was the first ever ‘Vijay’ on screen. Then came, Dilip Kumar. And then Guru Dutt in Pyaasa. Amitabh appropriated the ‘Angry Young Vijay’ a record 22 times. Jeetendra followed suit 17 times. Lesson: Rahul aur Raj nahi toh Vijay hi sahi.