Sukanya Verma

'What’s in a name?’ asked Shakespeare once.

If he were part of the Hindi film industry, he'd know. For, in Bollywood, it’s all in the name. Perhaps, he'd end up with an extra ‘e’ or ‘a’ added to his name.

In the early years of our film industry, film stars often changed their names completely. Their christened names were just not glamorous enough to draw the audiences to cinema halls. And in an industry like ours, where it's the name that sells, a rose by any other name, smelled sweeter.

Thus, Yusuf Khan became Dilip Kumar, Mehajabeen metamorphosised to a Meena Kumari, Mumtaz Jehan Begum was Madhubala, Jatin Khanna became Rajesh Khanna, Rajiv Bhatia was Akshay Kumar and Ritu Chaudhary changed her name to Mahima (in keeping with filmmaker Subhash Ghai's fetish with names beginning with the letter 'M').

Others like Devdutt Bishorimal Anand, Ranbirraj Kapoor and Shamsherraj Kapoor kept it short and sweet, modifying their names to Dev Anand, Raj Kapoor and Shammi Kapoor respectively.

If these stars altered their names to make themselves more alluring, the present breed won't be left behind. And 'numerology' is the name of their game. You see, a majority of today's stars -- Hrithik, Abhishek, Karriena have got to where they are at, courtesy the 'family name'. Being the scions of the Bachchans, the Kapoors, the Johars, the Roshans or the Chopras definitely opens more doors in Bollywood; no one would deny that. You can't do away with the name completely, all you could perhaps do is modify it. That's a novel idea!

Bollywood biggest hit this year -- Numerology. Add or subtract a letter of the alphabet and multiply BO success.

Rakesh Roshan Superstitious Rakesh Roshan changed the title of every film to begin with the alphabet ‘k’. Apparently, a Roshan fan wrote to him saying that only his films that began with the letter 'k' did well. (Khel Khel Main, Khoobsurat, Kaamchor).

Ever since, Roshan’s been hooked on 'k'. Witness Khudgarz, Khoon Bhari Maang, Kishen Kanhaiya, King Uncle, Khel, Karan Arjun, Koyla, Kaho Naa…Pyaar Hai and his latest production Koi Mil Gaya.

During a particularly lean phase, Rakesh Roshan even added an extra ‘a’ to his own name, Raakesh. But that didn't help things. The film flopped and Raakesh changed back to the original Rakesh. Son Rithik became Hrithik, thanks to his astrologer.

Karriena Kapoor Hrithik's co-star in Yaadein and Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham -- Kareena Kapoor also added an extra ‘r’ and replaced an ‘e’ with ‘i’; she's Karriena now! Interestingly, elder sister Karisma too had dropped the ‘h’ from Karishma, when she was on her way to the top.

Thus far, however, Karriena's gambit has backfired because the entire name changing business did nothing to make Asoka work. Mujhe Kucch Kehna Hai which had her as Kareena remains her only hit.

Speaking of MKKH, Jeetendra’s son Tusshar Kapoor too was bitten by the numerology bug, hence the extra ‘s’ in his name. Good for him as MKKH turned out to be the surprise hit of the year.

Another star son Akshaye Khanna added an extra ‘e’ to his name when an astrologer advised dad Vinod that it would prove to be beneficial to his son's career.

Sanjay Dutt Sanjay Dutt too changed his name to Sunjay for a brief period. Unfortunately, he was dragged into the TADA mess and he soon decided to revert to Sanjay.

The latest addition to this name changing bandwagon is muscle man Sunil Shetty who is now Suniel Shetty. Author and columnist Shobha De has turned Shobaa De. And model-turned-actor Arjun Rampal no longer sports the ‘h’ in Ramphal.

What next?, you ask.

Knowing the quirks of today's industry, tomorrow stars would probably take a cue from the cyber world and add numbers to their names. Will Esha092 make it to the top, then?

Design: Uday Kuckian


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