80s: Iconic Individuals

BollyCurry shines its spotlight on ten such celebrities who defined the 80s.

As BollyCurry continues to pay tribute to those who made Bollywood what it is today, we move on to the next decade in queue - the 80s. The 80s can rightly be called the era of change where the audience in itself began to be more receptive to newer ideas and unconventional films. With this article, BollyCurry shines its spotlight on ten such celebrities who defined the 80s.
The first female superstar of Indian cinema, Sridevi Kapoor, took the nation by a storm when she appeared on-screen. Not many know that she was only 13 when she made her debut appearance in the Tamil film Moondru Mudichu (1976), which was an instant success. This was followed by many other successful appearances in Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam films before she made her Hindi debut in Solva Saavan (1978). However, it was her role as the feisty Rekha in the 1983 blockbuster Himmatwala that catapulted her into instant stardom. There was no looking back for the talented actress after that and she continued to star in critically and commercially successful films such as Aakhri Raasta(1986), Aulad (1987), Main Tera Dushman (1989) and Judaai (1997). Kapoor's success can be attributed to the fact that she never stuck to a stereotype character but explored her talent by playing starkly different characters in each of her films. Whether it was the role of the child-woman Reshmi in Sadma, the role of the snake-woman Rajni in Nagina or a double role of twin sisters Anju and Manju in Chaalbaaz, Kapoor proved her mettle time and again with her versatile performances. The recipient of the prestigious Padma Shri Award and the winner of numerous Filmfare and other awards, Kapoor is truly the woman who made the 80s what it was.
Probably one of the finest actresses Indian cinema has ever seen, Smita Patil's entry into Bollywood was truly a game changer for the industry. While most of the actresses of her time chose to act in commercial films opposite popular actors, Patil mostly stuck to parallel cinema, a new wave of cinema that rapidly accumulated appreciation. Her impeccable acting prowess in films such as Aakrosh (1980), Chakra (1981), Namak Halal(1982), Arth (1982) and Mirch Masala (1985) proved her mettle to the industry, and she was regarded as one of the top actresses of her time within a few years of her debut. Her untimely demise as a result of complications during childbirth was probably the only reason why she never catapulted into stardom, since she was already dwelling in the top league. Paril was awarded a posthumous Padma Shri Award for her contribution to Indian cinema and to this day, she will always remain the face to boost parallel cinema in India.
Sister to the "nightingale of the Indian music industry", Asha Bhosle (nee Mangeshkar) is synonymous with the 80s. Despite having a tumultuous personal life and being overshadowed by her older sister during her initial years as a playback singer, it was the 80s which gave Bhosle the fame and recognition she truly deserved. While she started off singing songs for B and C grade Hindi films, or the cabaret numbers, her collaboration with Rahul Dev Burman (whom she went on to marry), Sahcing Dev Burman and other singers earned her critical acclaim. She often gave voice to the actor-dancer Helen for songs like "Piya Tu Ab Toh Aaja" and "Oh Haseena Zulfon Waali". However, her rendition of "Dil Cheez Kya Hai" from Umrao Jaan (1981) and "Mera Kuch Saaman" from Ijaazat (1986) earned her the prestigious National Award for Best Female Playback Singer, thus affirming her position in the industry. Having won seven Filmfare awards over the span of her career, Bhosle, along with Alka Yagnik, remains the only female playback singer to have won the most number of Filmfare Awards in the span of her career.
Probably one of the most famous female directors of the 80s, Sai Paranjpye started off her career RJ-ing for All India Radio; from where she moved into writing and directing plays in Hindi, Marathi and English. Paranjpye's first feature film, Sparsh (1980), won her her first National Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi and Best Screenplay, which catapulted her to instant fame. However, Paranjpye chose to stay away from the norm and focused on movies that served purpose and possessed soul. Known primarily for directing the successful comic caper film Chashme Baddoor (1981), Paranjpye continues to write and direct plays and spend time with her family.
Known as one of the most famous supporting actresses of all times, Aruna Irani truly shone during the 80s. Despite debuting at the tender age of nine in the film Jumna (1961), Irani went on to work in over 300 movies and TV shows in the span of her 50 year career. While she did appear as a leading lady in quite a few films, she received ample recognition and adulation for her appearances in song-dance numbers such as "Main Shayar Toh Nahin" and "Apni Toh Jaise Taise", and her portrayal of supporting characters in films such as Qurbani (1980), Love Story (1981), Bemisaal (1982), Shahenshah (1988) andChaalbaaz (1989). Although Irani has shifted to acting in daily soaps, she does make appearances in films every now and then, and her last outing was in the film Khatta Meetha(2010).
Bollywood's very own bad-man, Prem Chopra is the first person who comes to one's mind when they think of antagonists in the 80s. Despite the fact that Chopra began acting much earlier in the 60s, it was only in the 80s he played the role of the main antagonist, as he would earlier be seen as a sidekick to villains such as Ranjeet and Jeevan. Some of his notable performances were in films such as Awaaz (1984), Nagina (1986) and Shahenshah (1988). Chopra was known to share a great rapport with his co-star Rajesh Khanna and the two of them went on to act in 17 films together, out of which 15 were commercial successes. While he moved on to essay positive roles in the late 90s, this couldn't changed his perceived image of the quintessential bad guy of the Indian film industry.
Rajshri Productions is probably the oldest running production house in India which has been producing successful films and TV shows from its very inception. Originally founded by Tarachand Barjatya, it were actually his sons - Kamal Kumar Barjatya, Raj Kumar Barjatya and Ajit Kumar Barjatya - who were instrumental in raising the production house to its peak in the 80s. Choosing to stay away from the usual commercial masala entertainers, Rajshri Productions has always stuck to making family oriented films with a strong message. Some of their iconic films from the 80s include Saraansh (1984), Abodh (1984) and Maine Pyar Kiya (1989), all of which brought Rajshri Productions and the Barjatya family to a completely new level. Arguably, Rajshri Productions remains till date one of the most successful and popular production houses in the Hindi film industry.
Popular music-composer duo Laxmikant- Pyarelal began their musical career as assistants to famous music directors like SD Burman, RD Burman and Kalayanji Anandji. However, their stint in composing music for the film Dosti (1964) was their ticket to success and there was no looking back for them after it. The two went on to compose music for around 635 movies. Huge fans of Shankar-Jaikishan, some of their compositions bear a slight semblance to that of those composed by the musical maestros. While they are regarded as one of the most talented music composer duos of the industry, one can't deny that their best phase was in the 80s where they composed songs for films such asSargam (1980), Hero (1983), Naam (1986), Tezaab (1988) and Ram Lakhan (1989). Not many know that Pyarelal also assisted on the composition of the famous song "Dhoom Taana" from the popular film Om Shanti Om (2007).
A member of the oldest family of actors in the industry, Rishi Kapoor was quite popular during his heydays. His demure looks and physique earned him the title of the chocolate boy of the 80s and he went on to act in a number of romance and family oriented films. Despite debuting in 1973 with the film Bobby, it wasn't until the 80s that his fame remained consistent. He then went on to star in a number of commercially and critically successful films such as Karz (1980), Prem Rog (1982), Coolie (1983), Nagina (1986) and Chandni(1989), all which only heightened his hold in the industry. His recent successful stints include Do Dooni Chaar (2010), Agneepath (2012), Student Of The Year (2012),Aurangzeb (2013) and Shuddh Desi Romance (2013).
The last person on our list, Anil Kapoor, started off his career with the successful Woh Saat Din (1983) and is now a well known face not only in Bollywood, but also in Hollywood. His debut was a success and he went on to star in a chain of other successful films including Meri Jung (1986), Mr India (1987), Tezaab (1988), Ram Lakhan (1989) and Parinda (1989). Kapoor has always been known for his impeccable acting and dashing persona, which is what helped him to catapult into stardom. Currently managing his time between Bollywood and Hollywood, Kapoor has aged gracefully and still looks quite dapper whenever he makes an appearance!
While there are numerous other celebrities who made the 80s what it was, it is impossible for us to list all of them. Who is your favorite Bollywood celebrity from the 80s? Comment below and let us know!
Author: Ritchelle C
Editor(s): Pooja B. and Jenifer Y.
Graphics: Shikha A.
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Anil Kapoor Thumbnail

Anil Kapoor

Asha Bhosle Thumbnail

Asha Bhosle

Laxmikant- Pyarelal Thumbnail

Laxmikant- Pyarelal

Sridevi Thumbnail


Prem Chopra Thumbnail

Prem Chopra

Smita Patil Thumbnail

Smita Patil

Tarachand Barjatya Thumbnail

Tarachand Barjatya

Rishi Kapoor Thumbnail

Rishi Kapoor

Ajit Kumar Barjatya Thumbnail

Ajit Kumar Barjatya

Kamal Kumar Barjatya Thumbnail

Kamal Kumar Barjatya

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