Shammi Kapoor’s bevy of debutant beauties have long been overtaken in quantum by the debut-making leading ladies of his nephew Rishi Kapoor. But since then, it is Salman Khan who has come to lead the list as Mr. Mentor to female newbies of all hues and origins.
Like with all heroes acting as Mr. Mentors, the calibre of the actress decided her career, and Salman just proved to be the launch pad for their careers. Saiee M. Manjrekar makes her debut in the third instalment of the Dabangg franchise, where the first had introduced Sonakshi Sinha, who is there in all three films!
And speaking of launch-pads, three newbies were cast in Salman’s productions without him in the cast. Four more were foreigners (two Afghan, one American and one Chinese!) and some came from film families. The film family newcomers are mentioned in capital letters.
Good friend Suniel Shetty’s daughter was launched by Salman Khan opposite Aditya Pancholi’s and Zaina Wahab’s son Sooraj Pancholi in his ill-advised remake of Hero. This 2015 film only added to Nikkhil Advani’s long list of flops, though Athiya showed promise.
A musical “rom-com” that fell on its face, it saw Salman as a prince and an American actress falling for him. The only mildly interesting thing about this 2007 English film was it being the only film to have lyrics by Salman’s father’s ex writing partner (and then bête noire) Javed Akhtar!
Wherever her future career went (or did not, as she soon got married), this daughter of filmmaker-composer Vijay Singh Patwardhan opened up the ‘bhagya’ (luck) for ‘shree’ Salman Khan with his first solo lead film. This Rajshri blockbuster was the entire 1980s’ highest grosser.
A Punjabi import from the South (like so many before and after), this lady started out with Tere Naam in 2003. Despite one more film with him, Bhumika never entered the top league and fizzled out.
Chandni & Kanchan
We take these two girls together as they both co-starred in the 1991 super-hit Sanam Bewafa. Though Kanchan did many films in “side” roles, neither made a mark, though Salman Khan gained professional mileage from this super-hit.
She came up the hard way by working as a dancer and assistant to choreographer Ganesh Acharya in films like Zameen. Model and actress down South, she began her Hindi innings with Salman Khan with Jai Ho!, who roped her in as her reel character came from a dancing background. Daisy later did Race 3 featuring Salman, but she hardly is in the race for stardom as yet.
Stepdaughter of producer Chander Sadanah, she appeared first in the 1990 success Baaghi. Though she even forayed into politics and had a reported affair with Rajiv Kapoor, she never hit it big in Hindi films but made a name in Bhojpuri and down South, besides acting in films in other languages.
Granddaughter to the legendary 1940s Hindi-Marathi actress Meenakshi Shirodkar, Namrata made her debut in the 1998 hit Jab Pyaar Kisise Hota Hai in a crucial but small role like her elder sister Shilpa Shirodkar did in Bhrastachar. After a brief career, she married Mahesh Babu, the South superstar and went off films. For the record, she started out as a kid in Shirdi Ke Sai Baba.
Nutan’s granddaughter and Mohnish’s and Ektaa Bahl’s daughter started out with Salman’s co-production Notebook opposite newcomer Zaheer Iqbal. Though the film nosedived, she has signed Helmet that marks Aparashakti Khurrana’s lead debut, and showed a charming potential in her debut.
Ace ‘70s and ‘80s filmmaker Ravi Tandon’s daughter had a long struggle to overcome the tag of a “jinxed” heroine but shot to glory with an array of hit films in 1994, settling down as one of the most successful stars of the 1990s. She still acts in select roles. She even got her first hero Salman to make a cameo in her first (and only) production, Stumped, in 2003.
In that smallish role in Salman Khan’s debut film Biwi Ho To Aisi (1988) , wherein he was also in a second lead, Renu Arya barely registered, joining the ranks of actresses who vanished after a few more insignificant roles.
The South actress made her Hindi debut in the flop Love and did a few more Hindi films, but none with Salman. However, when she turned director with the 2004 Phir Milenge, in which she did not star, she signed Salman Khan as the main lead.
SAIEE M. MANJREKAR
Mahesh Manjrekar’s daughter got to share frames with both her parents in Dabangg 3, as an aspiring doctor and Chulbul Pandey’s first love, who is bumped off by the villain. It was a small-and-sweet performance, but how her career shapes up remains to be seen.
Lucky—No Time For Love (2005) saw this young girl cast opposite Salman, and the media went to town about how Salman had cast her simply because Sneha superficially resembled his lost love Aishwarya Rai (Bachchan)!
Shatrughan Sinha’s daughter made an impressive debut in Dabangg and did a variety of films and roles later. She has had a normal star innings with winners like the Dabangg franchise, Rowdy Rathore, Son Of Sardaar, Holiday and Mission Mangal interspersed with flops of all kinds.
This Afghan national was cast opposite Salman Khan’s brother-in-law Aayush Sharma in his production Loveyatri and sparkled as an NRI Gujarati girl. Her career has still to take off, though, and she has just enacted a cameo in the song ‘Munna badnaam hua’ in Dabangg 3.
With nothing much happening for her in Hindi films, Zareen Khan, who is of Afghan descent, is also taking up assignments down South and in Punjab. She was introduced opposite Salman in Veer (2010).
The Chinese actress who played Salman’s romantic interest in the errant Tubelight was obviously not looking at a career in Hindi cinema. The film’s rejection did not lead to any offers either.