2023 has begun, and we take off with a story on the birthdays of film celebs in January, kicking off a monthly series.
Asrani January 1
He played bit roles until his break in the role of a struggling actor in Guddi (1971). Generally credited with raising the level of comedy in Hindi films to a higher caliber (Chupke Chupke, Sholay), the versatile 83 year-old has also sung playback and written, produced and directed some films.
Nana Patekar Jan.1
The firebrand, best known for Tirangaa, Krantiveer, Khamoshi—The Musical, Bhoot and Bluffmaster!, has also been a social activist and active farmer. He turned director with the brilliant Prahaar and shone in that field as well.
Vidya Balan Jan. 1
While Kangana Ranaut and Taapsee Pannu also lay claims to sell minus any big hero and demanded pay parity, it is actually Vidya Balan who, genre notwithstanding, did her own thing, and often successfully. Beginning with the super-successful Hum Paanch on TV and a dazzling turn as Parineeta, Vidya excelled in films as assorted as Dedh Ishqiya, Paa, The Dirty Picture, Kahaani and Jalsa.
Deepika Padukone Jan. 5
She made it big with Om Shanti Om (2007) and many more hits, despite never working with Aamir Khan, Ajay Devgn, Salman Khan or Hrithik Roshan. By 2013, she was the Numero Uno and remained so for a good while. She still is in the running, and has even attempted production (Chhapaak, 83), and is now Mrs. Ranveer Singh.
A.R. Rahman Jan. 6
In the brief period between the dubbed Roja (1993) and the originally Hindi Rangeela (1995), he made a dent in conventional Hindi film music, making lyrics and even diction far less important than the composition and sound. Since then, he managed to completely revolutionize Hindi music, even before his international forays and triumphs. What’s more, several new names came in, primarily because of his unprecedented success, from diverse backgrounds like pop, rock and other non-film areas.
Bipasha Basu Jan. 7
She was to the millennium what Zeenat Aman had been to the 1970s— essentially a sexy siren. Films like Jism, No Entry, Dhoom 2, Omkara and Race made her go on a rapid ascent.
Farhan Akhtar Jan. 9
He helped changed the grammar of Hindi cinema with his maiden directorial, Dil Chahta Hai. Subsequently, he even turned actor with memorable turns in Rock On!! and Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, and continued experimenting as producer with multifarious productions in cinema and the web.
Farah Khan Jan. 9
She was the first female director in Hindi cinema whose film was never self-conscious about her gender—Main Hoon Na, she seemed to say, about females delivering hits! Before that, she had already made a name for herself as a choreographer, beginning with the classic Pehla nasha from Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander. Since then, Farah Khan has proved herself not just as a reality show judge but also an actress.
Hrithik Roshan Jan.10
The one-time ace child actor turned a superstar with his very first lead—Kaho Naa…Pyaar Hai. As an actor, Hrithik Roshan delivers, irrespective of success or otherwise—check Guzaarish, Lakshya and Vikram Vedha on the one hand and Kaabil and War on the other.
K.J. Yesudas Jan.10
An institution in Kerala, the 83 year-old singer made his Hindi debut in 1976 with the hit Janeman janeman from Chhoti Si Baat and all the four songs of Chitchor. An unabashed ban of Mohammed Rafi, Yesudas has since sung a gamut of Hindi songs of all hues for most top stars in his peak phase, from Dharmendra to Sanjay Dutt.
Durga Khote Jan.14
The legendary actress, who also became an iconic character artiste and ad, short and documentary filmmaker, was among the early winners of the highest honor for cinema in India, the Dadasaheb Phalke honor. Having done over 200 films, including Mughal-E-Azam, Bobby and Bidaai, between 1931 and 1983, she passed away in 1991 after reigning in Hindi and Marathi cinema and theater.
Neil Nitin Mukesh Jan.15
Scion of the Mukesh family, unlike his iconic grandfather and illustrious father, Nitin Mukesh, Neil opted for acting (beginning as child actor in the 1988 film Vijay) instead of music. He opened his innings with a gray role and a magnificent turn in Johnny Gaddaar (2007) and subsequently made a mark in New York, the Tamil Kaththi, Prem Ratan Dhan Payo and Golmaal Again.
Sidharth Malhotra Jan.16
Beginning with Student of the Year, Sidharth excelled in films like Ek Villain and Shershaah in particular and has evolved into a phenomenal actor. He is among the few actors who commands his own fan-following among actors from GenY despite no film background, with assignments like Mission Majnu, Yodha and Indian Police Force, his maiden web series.
Javed Akhtar Jan.17
An independent writer in a small film, then the ruling writer along with Salim Khan as Salim-Javed, and finally as a solo writer and top lyricist, Javed Akhtar is a name to reckon with in each capacity—as part of the highest-paid writing duo in Sholay and Deewaar, as solo writer in Betaab and as lyricist in Mr. India and Silsila.
Ramesh Sippy Jan. 23
His first three films, Andaz, Seeta Aur Geeta and Sholay , were increasingly successful. Ramesh Sippy, son to filmmaker G.P. Sippy, then made the technically colossal Shaan and the classic Shakti besides the TV opus, Buniyaad. As producer too, he has produced Bluffmaster! (directed by son Rohan) among others.
J. Om Prakash Jan. 24
The first known filmmaker to be superstitious about his film titles (almost all began with the letter ‘A’), J. Om Prakash, now also known as Hrithik Roshan’s nana, spun hits in a row from 1961 to 1980, including Ayee Milan Ki Bela, Aaye Din Bahaar Ke, Aan Milo Sajana, Aap Ki Kasam, Aandhi and Aasha, which introduced Hrithik as a child actor.
Subhash Ghai Jan. 24
The Showman Extraordinaire, who is now also the founder of the premium Indian film school, Whistling Woods International, has been actor, filmmaker, writer, editor, composer, lyricist and singer. His biggest triumphs have been as a director—Kalicharan, Karz, Hero, Karma, Saudagar, Khal-Nayak and Pardes among them.
Kavita Krishnamurthi Subramaniam Jan. 25
Among the most accomplished of the post-Mangeshkar female playback singers, Kavita Krishnamurthi Subramaniam is no less than a legend in her own way. Having first made a mark with Pyar Jhukta Nahin’s Tumse milkar and Mr. India’s Hawa hawaai, she also dazzled in Mohra’s Tu cheez badi hai mast mast, singing for everyone from Nutan to Madhuri Dixit and Vidya Balan.
Priyadarshan Jan. 30
The maverick South filmmaker had low-key beginnings in Hindi cinema but stormed into center-stage with the 2000 epic Hera Pheri, changing forever the concepts and commercial prospects of full-length comedies in Hindi. Followed laugh-riots like Hungama, Garam Masala, Malamaal Weekly, Bhool Bhulaiyaa and others.
Preity Zinta Jan. 31
She was among the finest stars to appear on the horizon in the late 1990s and rapidly became a big name before fizzling out due to various reasons after the mid-2000s. Dil Se…, Sangharsh, Kya Kehna, Dil Chahta Hai, Chori Chori Chupke Chupke, Dil Hai Tumhaara, Koi…Mil Gaya, Veer-Zaara and Salaam Namaste were among her standout work.