Amitabh Bachchan, who won the coveted title of ‘Star of the Millennium’ and snatched the title of Superstar from actor Rajesh Khanna in the 70’s faced many rejections and humiliation before winning stardom. He was first rejected by AIR (All India Radio) when he tried to become an RJ. He was discarded and humiliated for his thin and tall appearance. After the failure of his debut film Saat Hindustani, Amitabh Bachchan (1969) he faced more trouble. Having no accommodation he even slept many nights on Marine Drive. He even did roles of an extra to survive. Eventually, after a row of 17 flop films, he decided to quit Mumbai and go back to his hometown, when Salim-Javed offered him a role in the film Zanjeer (1973). The film was a smash hit and rest is history!
Like Amitabh Bachchan, the Superstar of the South Cinema, Rajinikanth is considered as a Demi-God! However, before attending such royal status, Rajinikanth made a humble beginning. After the demise of his mother Jijabai, Rajinikanth did many odd jobs like a carpenter, coolie and then got the job of a bus conductor in the Karnataka State Transport Corporation in Bangalore. Being an avid fan of Bollywood actor Shatrughan Sinha, Rajinikanth copied his mannerism and style while issuing tickets to passengers. His whistling and style made him a popular figure with the public. Aspiring to become an actor, he moved to Chennai and met film director K. Balachander. However, unlike others, Balachander was not impressed by his style. He rudely rejected him and advised him to develop his own style and learn acting. Rajinikanth understood his mistake and joined the Madras film institute. Later when he met K. Balachander, he gave him a small role in his film Apoorva Raagangal (1975) as a villain opposite Kamal Haasan. The film was a hit and Rajinikanth became an instant star with the film. Later he soon graduated to become a hero and the highest paid superstar!
Ironically, Shatrughan Sinha, whom Rajinikanth copied, too went through a rough phase before becoming a star. Shatrughan Sinha, who came from a Bihar, despite a Gold medal from Pune’s FTII had to slog for five long years doing tit-bit roles in movies like Sajan, Prem Pujari, etc. until top actress Mumtaz recommended him for a ‘cameo’ role in L.V. Prasad film production’s Khilona (1970) starring Sanjeev Kumar and Mumtaz. Shatrughan Sinha had a brief villain’s role with just three or four short scenes. However, Shatrughan Sinha knew it was his last opportunity to prove his worth. Hence Sinha invented his unique style of lighting cigarette and delivered his dialogues so enchantingly that the actor wrote a new chapter in villainy. Soon after the first show of Khilona, film buffs were seen lighting cigarettes in Shatru style. He became so popular that he commanded remuneration more than the heroes and soon became the most popular star of the ’70s!
Gouranga Chakraborty, better known as Mithun Chakraborty, was a member of the Bengal Naxalites and on the ‘Most Wanted’ list of police but when his elder brother died he quit Naxalism and joined FTII to start a new life. After FTII he struggled in Mumbai doing roles of an extra to survive. Lady luck smiled after 4 years when his film Surakshaa (1979) became a hit and later with Disco Dancer (1982) he became a star.
True stories of dedication hard work and rags to riches