Welcome the new cameo kings: Ajay Devgn and Shah Rukh Khan. Dharmendra, Amitabh Bachchan, Salman Khan, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Sonakshi Sinha and Jacqueline Fernandez have had the distinction of doing the maximum cameos / guest roles / special / friendly appearances in the past. The nomenclature varies as per the importance or length of the roles. Of late, it has also been the custom to just mention “Thanks, XYZ” or “Eternally grateful to Shah Rukh Khan” as in Brahmastra when stars do cameos. Yes, we will stick to the term “cameo” to describe any such non-leading role.
Cameo Kings: Ajay Devgn and Shah Rukh Khan win over audiences with guest appearances
But, perhaps, never have superstars (or any star for that matter) done a hat-trick of cameos within five months in Ajay Devgn’s (November 2021 to March 2022) and SRK at the rate of a cameo a month between July and now! The nearest we had was Kareena Kapoor Khan doing two ‘song’ cameos in 2012—in Rowdy Rathore and Dabangg 2. But she also did four lead roles that year.
Significantly, none of these two actors have had a leading role release anywhere between the films featuring them in cameos!
Let us see why the two actors chose to do these roles.
Sooryavanshi: Rohit Shetty announced his own cop universe (India’s first) with Simmba in 2018, wherein Ajay, for the third time, portrayed Singham, his character in the franchise of that name, and Akshay Kumar was introduced in a fleeting cameo as ATS officer Sooryavanshi. Naturally, when Sooryavanshi was finally made and released on November 5, 2021, it featured both Ajay as Singham and Ranveer as Simmba in very entertaining appearances as the fiery cops. Of all these six cameos, this is the only character that will be seen again!
RRR: An intense freedom fighter—this role was probably written and designed by S.S. Rajamouli as a reciprocal gesture to Ajay Devgn for marketing and promoting the filmmaker’s 2012 masterpiece, Makkhi, in its dubbed Hindi version. The dour, gritty character was right up Ajay’s street though.
Gangubai Kathiawadi: Coincidentally also co-starring Alia Bhatt (though not romantically) like RRR, it had Ajay playing the Muslim don Rahim Lala who supports Gangubai like a brother. Sanjay Leela Bhansali brought back Ajay into his movie after his unforgettable turn in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999), the filmmaker’s first hit.
Shah Rukh Khan:
Rocketry: This was actor R. Madhavan’s debut as a director—a biopic on the living legend, ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan. The story focused on the scientist and the controversial part of his life when he was unjustly framed in an espionage case. Madhavan directed the film in flashback mode, with Shah Rukh Khan playing himself, as the celebrity who interviews the scientist on how his life was affected by the allegations. Suriya did the corresponding cameo in the Tamil version.
Laal Singh Chaddha: In this misfired Aamir Khan production, Shah Rukh again played himself. VFX and Prosthetics showed a young Shah Rukh interacting with Laal Singh in their youth, when SRK was also a struggling actor. Shah Rukh did the role as a gesture to Aamir, with whom he had shared cameos and a scene in Pehla Nasha (1993) at an early stage in their careers. Remarkably, that film had been directed by Ashutosh Gowariker, who also directed them in independent leads later.
Brahmastra: We use the word ‘remarkably’ as Ayan Mukerji, the director of this film, was assistant director and co-screenplay writer with Ashutosh on Swades (2004), which starred Shah Rukh Khan as NASA scientist Mohan Bhargava. Mohan leaves America and returns to India finally. And in this film, he plays a rather elongated cameo as the same character, scientist Mohan Bhargava. Mohan is now a part of Brahmansh, the group protecting the world against evil forces. And this has made SRK fans demand a film that shows his journey from his character in that film to show how he become a Brahmansh warrior!
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