Director Subhash Ghai (left) always worked with actresses whose names began with ‘M’
Director Subhash Ghai (left) always worked with actresses whose names began with 'M'

The film industry is replete with tales of how the mighty take recourse to charms and chants to keep luck on their side

By Khalid Mohamed

Published: Fri 30 Sep 2016, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Fri 7 Oct 2016, 6:21 PM

Recently, when a high-profile production banner's expensively-mounted film tanked at the box office, the story goes that the date, place and exact birth time of every one of its employees were put up for scrutiny. A pundit, which the family-owned company trusts, had to then say whether an employee was 'lucky' or 'unlucky'. Those who didn't make the cut were given notice for termination of services.
Now, that may be a bizarre case of banking on the 'luck' factor. Yet, Bollywood has consistently stuck to the notion that there is something in the stars above which determines their destiny. Not surprisingly, then, show business folk are a strongly superstitious lot. Or should we call that merely being human?
Come to think of it, which mortal isn't a believer in luck? All of us, however rational we may be, have our share of insecurities and fears. If film stars freeze at the sight of a black cat crossing their path, so do many of us. Only in the case of the film fraternity, superstitions can go to incredibly extreme levels.
From Amitabh Bachchan and Lata Mangeshkar to Sanjay Dutt, Kareena Kapoor and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan - all of them resort to lucky mascots, gems, colours and charms. Most film families also consult godmen on subjects ranging from whether they should sign on a certain film or not, to which day and time to catch a flight. In recent years, there has been the phenomenon of 'life coaches', one of whom reportedly advised a senior producer-director to separate from his wife for a while, till the hefty fortunes of the family returned to square one.
Amitabh Bachchan has gone on record to say he doesn't watch 'live' telecasts of cricket matches since he believes that whenever he does so, India loses the match. So, he watches the repeat telecast of a match after it's over.
Changing one's name to a more 'auspicious' spelling has been commonplace. Ritesh Deshmukh goes as 'Riteish' in the tradition of Sunil Shetty who became 'Suniel'. Vivek Oberoi became 'Viveik' but returned to the original Vivek when there was no reversal of fortune. Sunjay Dutt was told that the 'u' in his first name wasn't working, at the very onset of his career. Hence, it has been Sanjay ever since.
Film titles can change original spellings too. To cite a personal example, the film I wrote based on the life story of my mother, Zubeida, was altered to Zubeidaa. A numerologist had instructed the producer that a title with eight letters would be more auspicious than just seven.
Shah Rukh Khan nurses a fascination for 555 - be it for his car number plate or in his mobile phone number. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and AR Rahman have one thing in common: 786. If Rahman's phone number has 786 in it, Aishwarya, it is believed, is wont to collect currency notes which have the 786 number. On another note, Akshay Kumar will never write anything on a blank page unless he begins it with an 'Om' sign.
Ekta Kapoor and Karan Johar have moved on from the letter K fixation for their movie titles. But Rakesh Roshan hasn't, and has just announced the fourth edition of his Krrish franchise. Coincidence or not, son Hrithik Roshan's other in-the-works project is titled Kaabil. Evidently, all of Hrithik's 'K'-titled films have clicked.
Incidentally, Rakesh Roshan's father-in-law, the movie moghul J Om Prakash, always produced films starting with the letters 'Aa' on scoring his first major hits with Aaye Din Bahar Ke, Aaya Sawan Jhoom Ke and Aan Milo Sajna, back in the 60s-70s.
As for the showy filmmaker Subhash Ghai, after he successfully launched the career of Madhuri Dixit, he opted for heroines whose names began with the letter 'M' - from Manisha Koirala and Mahima Chaudhry to his last discovery Mishti, who, as it turned out, couldn't make the grade.
Quite curiously, Preity Zinta believes that whenever she falls down on the sets of a movie, it becomes a super hit. Mithun Chakraborty avoids the first day of his film's shoot, contending that whenever he has been present at the 'mahurat', the outcome has been a major flop.
Govinda doesn't take a decision on his private or professional life without consulting his guru. Ditto Sanjay Dutt, who, through all his vicissitudes, has kept in touch with a Delhi-based godman. Ajay Devgn seeks the blessings of a guru, whether he is starting a new project or buying a car. Frequently, Kajol is seen wearing a 'charmed' arm-bracelet.
And Gulzar, to maintain a sense of tranquillity at home, has a sizeable collection of Buddha sculptures. Amitabh Bachchan wears several rings to keep himself out of harm's way.
That's how the wheel of fortune spins on, asserting the fact that to live and thrive in the movies is a matter of luck by chance.

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