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The giant leap: B-Town actors who started as assistant directors

In the world of cinema — much like in any other art form — people have to work their way up before they taste success. We point out some actors who forayed into Hindi cinema as assistant directors before finding their true calling...

In the world of cinema — much like in any other art form — people have to work their way up before they taste success. Particularly in Bollywood, it has been observed that star kids more often than not start out by assisting filmmakers. That’s where they are introduced to films even if their ultimate goal is acting and not direction. These are stars who, instead of enrolling in acting schools, preferred to assist directors and learn the technicalities behind making a film. We point out some actors who forayed into Hindi cinema as assistant directors before finding their true calling...

Sharib Hashmi (behind the camera) plays a wannabe actor who works as an assistant director in Nitin Kakkar’s Filmistaan
Sharib Hashmi (behind the camera) plays a wannabe actor who works as an assistant director in Nitin Kakkar’s Filmistaan

Ranveer Singh
Ranvir Singh

Film debut: Band Baaja Baaraat (2010)
Lowdown: Not hailing from a filmi background, Ranveer assisted Shaad Ali in films like Bunty Aur Babli as well as some ad films. Following this, he worked with reclusive filmmaker Aditya Chopra before getting his first big break opposite Anushka Sharma.

Kunal Kapoor
Kunal Kapoor

Film debut: Meenaxi: Tale of 3 Cities (2004)
Lowdown: This lanky actor, who is currently engaged to Amitabh Bachchan’s niece, began his film journey an assistant director on the sets of the Amitabh Bachchan-starrer Aks (2001). He assisted director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra for the film before making his debut.

Emraan Hashmi
Emraan Hashmi

Film debut: Footpath (2003)
Lowdown: This no-nonsense actor spent quite a lot of time learning tricks of the trade with Vishesh Films before deciding to become an actor. Before becoming Bollywood’s serial kisser, he had assisted Vikram Bhatt on his film, Raaz (2002).

Sonam Kapoor
Sonam Kapoor

Film debut: Saawariya (2007)
Lowdown: The story about this fashionista not only shedding kilos but also her inhibitions is quite inspiring. She was assisting Bhansali for Black (2005) when the maverick filmmaker suggested that she should try to see herself in front of the camera instead of behind it.

Varun Dhawan
Varun Dhawan

Film debut: Student of the Year (2012)
Lowdown: A director’s son doesn’t always opt for direction, especially when there’s a possibility of becoming a full-fledged actor. Something similar happened with Varun. He assisted KJo too in My Name is Khan before getting launched by KJo.

Arjun Kapoor
Arjun Kapoor

Film debut: Ishaqzaade (2012)
Lowdown: He credits Salman Khan for coaxing him into getting in shape and for making him consider acting. But before his acting stint came about,, he assisted filmmakers on several films such as Shakthi: The Power (2002), Kal Ho Naa Ho (2003) and Salaam-e-Ishq (2007).

Sidharth Malhotra
Sidharth Malhotra

Film debut: Student of the Year (2012)
Lowdown: After quitting modelling for good, he applied for the assistant director’s position in My Name is Khan (2010). Luckily, Karan Johar was impressed by his drive and Sidharth went on to assist him in My Name is Khan. Later on, KJo launched him along with Varun Dhawan and Alia Bhatt in directorial venture.

Hrithik Roshan
Hrithik Roshan

Film debut: Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai (2000)
Lowdown: Although he made his first credited big screen appearance in Bhagwaan Dada (1986) as a 12-year-old, he went on to assist his father, director Rakesh Roshan, on several films, including the Shah Rukh Khan-starrer King Uncle (1993) and the Anil Kapoor-starrer Karobaar (2000).

Ranbir Kapoor
Ranbir Kapoor

Film debut: Saawariya (2007)
Lowdown: With rumours about his ambition to revive the RK Films banner floating around, it’s worth noting that he assisted in films like PremGranth (1996), his father Rishi Kapoor’s directorial debut, Aa Ab Laut Chalen (1999) and the Sanjay Leela Bhansali production, Black (2005).

Other young turks

Ranbir Kapoor’s first cousin, Armaan Jain, makes his debut in Lekar Hum Deewana Dil (2014). He has earlier assisted Karan Johar for My Name is Khan.

Armaan Jain

Sooraj Pancholi assisted Sanjay Leela Bhansali on his film, Guzaarish (2010) and he will be making his debut opposite Athiya Shetty in Hero later this year.

Sooraj Pancholi

Harshvardhan Kapoor was an AD (assistant director) for Anurag Kashyap’s Bombay Velvet and he will be debuting in Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s film, Mirza Sahibaan.

Harshvardhan Kapoor

Vaibhav Anand, son of filmmaker Vijay Anand, is being launched by Salman Khan. He has earlier assisted filmmakers like Ravi Chopra and Sooraj Barjatiya.

Vaibhav Anand

Sunny Deol’s son, Karan Deol, assisted director Sangeeth Sivan on Yamla Pagla Deewana 2. There is speculation that Sunny will soon launch him in a home production.

Karan Deol

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