Today, it is much easier to enter the film world than ever before. But in the relatively closed environs of the Hindi film industry till the mid-2000’s, it was tricky to get entry into the industry if one was not rooted in a film family, even if, in the end, it was always about the survival of the fittest.

But the strange part is that genetic roots within the industry do offer an edge even today, especially for a successful career. Even on-screen, Varun Dhawan, Tiger Shroff and Arjun Kapoor come from film families, as do their leading female counterparts, Alia Bhatt and Shraddha Kapoor.

Arjun Kapoor, Tiger Shroff, Varun Dhawan, Alia Bhatt and Shraddha Kapoor
Arjun Kapoor, Tiger Shroff, Varun Dhawan, Alia Bhatt and Shraddha Kapoor

For one, they usually know the art and craft of making successful films that, irrespective of genre, have a good connect with the masses. Is this gift acquired? Or inherited? Or is it a bit of both? We do think there is a mix, but the genetic angle definitely seems stronger, for sometimes, as in the case of Arjun and Alia, the film link may transcend three generations.

And while such ‘genetic’ cases exist even among musicians (singer Divya Kumar, composer Mithoon and Amaal Mallik are all third-generation music artistes), the most important contributors in cinema, apart from actors, are of course the filmmakers.

Today, it’s a free world in Hindi cinema—decidedly not the time to flaunt your film family background when the stakes are so high, so it is interesting to know the track-records of some names that few know have come in with strong genetic connections.

Ayan Mukerji is the grandson of the titanic showman, producer, studio owner and one-man discovery channel, S. Mukerji, and son of one-time actor Deb Mukerji—Ayan also is related to veteran hero Joy Mukerji and is Kajol’s and Rani Mukerji’s cousin.

Ayan Mukerji
Ayan Mukerji

His first film, Wake Up Sid! was a limited success, but he found his true groove with Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani in 2013, notching up Ranbir Kapoor’s and (one of) Deepika Padukone’s career-biggest super-hit and a fresh, message-oriented love story with one of the finest musical scores in the last few years. S. Mukerji was the man who created the modern hero in Hindi cinema with Shammi Kapoor’s breakthrough film Tumsa Nahin Dekha and was also responsible for this and many other great musicals.

Karan Malhotra, who directed Agneepath (2012), is the son of Ravi Malhotra, a close associate of Rishi Kapoor and producer of his teenybopper hit Khel Khel Mein among others. Agneepath as a remake succeeded where the original version did not, even crossing 100 crore, and now Karan is directing Akshay Kumar’s most anticipated film, Brothers.

Director Karan Malhotra and Agneepath Movie Poster
Director Karan Malhotra and Agneepath Movie Poster

Abhishek Varman, writer and director of the 100-crore-plus 2 States, is the low-profile son of top art director (production designer) R. Varman (Baazigar, Kaho Naa…Pyaar Hai). Mohit Suri, as we all know, is closely related to the Bhatt clan, which started out in films with vintage filmmaker Nanabhai Bhatt, Mohit’s maternal grandfather. Even Suri’s last film, Ek Villain, minus A-list superstars, crossed 100 crore.

Abhishek Varman
Abhishek Varman

And these are but the latest examples. The list goes on and on, and we mention these new names to highlight the singular fact that even in 2015, filmi genes have a way of surfacing—to the top.

New blood is welcome, and hopefully will lead to newer bloodlines that will absorb, assimilate and then come up with the best for Hindi cinema.

– Rajiv Vijayakar, a Senior Journalist, Film & Music Critic and Historian for Hindi cinema and Film Music is also an Author and Twice Jury Member at 58th and 62nd National Film Awards.

Rajiv Vijayakar tweets @rajivvijayakar

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