The PPCC spends a lot of time waxing stalkerish about the likes of Shashi Kapoor, Shah Rukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan or Naseeruddin Shah. It's true. These four actors are the pillars on which our love of Hindi movies was built. They cover a goodly range: Amitabh and Shah Rukh providing the old school and modern superstardom, respectively, Shashi the link (and OMG hot stud muffin) between mainstream, arthouse and Raj Revival cinema, and Naseer kicking it arthouse style. But sometimes we read our own blog and think: "Tut. What about Vinod Khanna?"
What about Vinod Khanna? Or, underappreciated PPCC faves. That is, people we like but have not yet actively sought out.
Stud in the house.
1. Vinod Khanna. Just the other day we were at Grumpy Uncle Ji's, and we were despairing because the only Shashi DVDs available were Sindoor (big mistake) and Alag Alag (bigger mistake). We were scraping the dregs like desperate Shashi addicts. We just need a hit! Just one more freaking hit! Then we saw Vinod Khanna's pleasant-looking face staring out at us, and we felt a warm glow of familiarity. Oh, Vinod. You'll always be there for us, won't you? And you know what, we love you, Vinod, we really do. Even if you sucked big-time in Parvarish (but only because you were evil), you were sufficiently awesome in Muqaddar ka Sikandar and Chor Sipahee that we have since developed a wee crush on you. You've also managed to make us cry really hard now and again (the last scene in Muqaddar ka Sikandar!), a cathartic release and something even our beloved Shashi has since been incapable of doing. Added bonuses: we think we found your home phone number once on the internet and seriously considered Skypeing you, but then thought, "Well, what do you say to Vinod Khanna? Uh, 'Hi. You are freaking awesome. Do you have Shashi ji's number?'?" You are also one of the few actors (excepting the Big B) who has retained his 1970s good looks even into advanced age. And your hair in Chor Sipahee was lush, like a mountain of ice cream lush.
Tinnu in Bombay.
2. Tinnu Anand. We at the PPCC are big fans of lazy eyes. Big, big fans. We think Forest Whitaker's best facet is his lazy eye. See with what menace he wields it in The Last King of Scotland! Tinnu Anand has such a lazy eye which he wields with similar menace when needed - consider, for example, his turn as the evil right-wing Hindu extremist in Bombay, or his turn as Rani's evil uncle in Laaga Chunari Mein Daag, or his turn as Om Puri's slimy and slightly evil publisher in In Custody, or his turn as the not-really-evil dog lover in China Gate, or his evil-with-a-heart-of-gold mob boss in Ram Jaane. Suffice to say, Tinnu knows how to kick it with his lazy eye, evil style. But not only that, we have a big soft spot for actors which unconventional looks - e.g. Geoffrey Rush. It reminds us of our favorite book, The Once and Future King by T.H. White, where Lancelot is described as not really very conventionally handsome, and yet completely beloved by Guinevere. Yes, Tinnu, we beloved you! And sometimes we think Roshan Seth and Tinnu Anand should play brothers in a movie, with Tinnu being the evil brother who is also way awesomer and gets to be redeemed in the end. Added bonus: Tinnu is awesome behind the camera as well!
Om in My Son the Fanatic.
3. Om Puri. Om really shouldn't be here, since he probably counts as the fifth pillar to our Hindi movie love. But it's also true that we were led into Parallel Cinema more by Naseer's awesomeness, with Om tagging along. And often Om was outshone by the emoting and bombast of Naseer's actorly acrobatics. But there's just something about Om that Naseer does not have, can never have. Om has such a way with looking sardonic, his droll expressions, his quiet exasperation. When Naseer and Om faced each other in the Dance Off, we were secretly cheering for Om, just because he's just so... Omy. Om, unlike Naseer, also has a somewhat unexpected hotness; at least, whereas Naseer In Love never really did it for us, Om In Love was hot! And adorable. We love you, Om! Added bonus: Om also makes the most BAD-ASS movies of all, those being postcolonial cinema: My Son the Fanatic, East is East, and he played our favorite character in the TV adaptation of Zadie Smith's White Teeth (that being Samad).
Neetu in Parvarish.
4. Neetu Singh. Although Rishi insists it was her decision, Neetu's disappearance from superstardom usually gets blamed on him. We at the PPCC can't help it, but, well: why, Rishi, why!? This is madness. Neetu was awesome. Yes, more awesome than you. WAY more awesome than you. She was like, if Shashi was a woman and like ten million times more adorable, that would be Neetu. We at the PPCC unfortunately always forget about Neetu because of her 'now you see her, now you don't' celebrity status, but then - when we watch Parvarish or Kaala Patthar or see pictures of her son, Ranbir Kapoor - we are suddenly reminded that Neetu is just so adorably awesome!
Shatrughan was a big fan of these wide-collar monotone khaki outfits.
5. Shatrughan Sinha. Like Neetu, another masala favorite that we always forget about but always get really, really happy when we see them onscreen. Also, like Tinnu, Shatrughan possesses a physical attribute of Villainy: the scar. No doubt because of that little scar by his mouth, Shatrughan was doomed (blessed?) to play morally ambiguous hard-asses: the ex-con and murderer with a heart of gold (not coal!) in Kaala Patthar, the rival romancer and doctor with dubious Freudian techniques in Aa Gale Lag Jaa. Added bonuses: Shatrughan and Amitabh have been snipping at each other via Amitabh's blog (!) and the Times of India recently. Shatrughan, like Amitabh and Vinod, is also aging well and retaining much of his 1970s goodlooking appeal. The scar still stands!
Iftikhar in Fakira.
6. Iftikhar. The man was in everything! EVERTHING. And despite playing policewallahs left and right, he also displayed surprising range when given half a chance - just check his uncharacteristic turn as the leery, lecherous thakur in Teesri Kasam.
Aww, Om Prakash. We know you don't mean to be evil. It just happens sometimes.
7. Om Prakash. There's a reason Farah Khan chose to name her squirrelly, starstruck hero "Om Prakash Makhija" in Om Shanti Om. It's because how can you not love Om? He's just such wholesome hilarity, like wheat pizza. The first time we PPCCed him was as the misguided, overprotective, kind of evil but still with a heart of gold Father-in-law in Aa Gale Lag Jaa. The sequence when Om's character melts in the rays of his (unacknowledged) grandson's cuteness, and they play marbles on the couch, and the little boy feeds Om an apple, and Om goes in to kiss his grandson's hair but is then startled back to reality by the arrival of his daughter (the mother of the grandson, unbeknownst to her... well, it's Manmohan Desai, what can you expect?) - anyway, all that was GOLD. Pure, unpolished, magical GOLD. Om then kicked further ass as the grieving father in Zanjeer, the horny gender-bending serf in Kanyadaan, and over-loved grandfather in Namak Halaal. Heck, even Om's cameo appearance in Do Aur Do Paanch makes everything all the sweeter.
Ram P. Sethi. He's like Dick Van Dyke and John Astin's love child.
8. Ram P. Sethi. In an age of Johnny Levers, the PPCC feels sharp pangs of nostalgia for the populist comedians of 1970s masala: Om Prakash and Ram P. Sethi. What Ram P. Sethi had - apart from his dopey expressions and slapstick - was a certain melancholy about him. At least, he was in Muqaddar ka Sikandar as the friend who introduces Sikandar to alcohol and courtesans. And no one emerged from Muqaddar ka Sikandar unscathed, with optimism intact. The depressing existentialism of the movie was so pervasive that even Ram P. Sethi's goofy sidekick act seemed to imply a deeper, darker depression underneath. Anyway, if you can't take that sort of heaviness, just watch Ram P. Sethi in Namak Halaal, where he wear a funny little cartoon journalist outfit, or in Do Aur Do Paanch, where, as I recall, he appears briefly only to be punched in the face or something.
WE LOVE YOU, PRAN!!!!
9. Pran. PRAN. PRAAAAAN.. It's kind of a lie that he's underappreciated by the PPCC. We love this guy BIG TIME. Like BIG BIG TIME.
Sanjeev in Swayamvar.
10. Sanjeev Kumar. Sanjeev is so underappreciated that sometimes we wonder about his being underappreciated. The power of his goodness is strong in Silsila, and indeed, with that relatively underwritten supporting role, he manages to convey so much, with such nuance, that - well, dammit, Sanjeev knew what he was doing! We were relieved and pleased, then, when we met someone who said their favorite actor was Sanjeev Kumar.
Sorry, Piyush, all you're getting is a pic taken from Rediff.
11. Piyush Mishra. Piyush has a sort of lazy, drooping-eyelids good humor which makes him stand out in all of his roles - the doomed Banquo update in Maqbool (aka the Mumbai Macbeth), the Pakistani friend of Abhishek's "My best friend is Pakistani!" hilarious character in Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, even as the hounding detective in Dil Se. We love him! And he can wear hot pink two-tone sherwani suits with a straight face, bless him.