Following a famous father: Kumar Gaurav to Abhishek Bachchan

Under the burden of being the offspring of extraordinary fathers, these sons tried to carve their own identity.

Sonal Pandya

A famous father’s name can open many doors, but once they are over the threshold, they have to maintain their own level of fame. Rajendra Kumar’s son Kumar Gaurav became a star overnight with his first release, Rahul Rawail’s Love Story (1981). He was seemingly on his way to success with early hits like Janam (1985) and Naam (1986). But all of his later films missed the mark and he gradually left films in the 1990s.

In an interview, he reflected, "Initially I did feel the pressure because there were expectations because of my dad’s name. But I did whatever I could, to the best of my abilities." Instead, he decided to pursue construction and travel business. In the early 2000s, he had a minor resurgence of sorts when he appeared in the long-delayed Gang (2000) and Sanjay Gupta's Kaante (2002) along with brother-in-law Sanjay Dutt. Kumar Gaurav's last big film role was in the silent film My Daddy Strongest (2009).

Kishore Kumar and Amit Kumar

Amit Kumar became known as the voice of new heroes entering the industry like Kumar Gaurav and Karan Shah. The song ‘Bade Achhe Lagte Hain’ from Shakti Samanta’s Balika Badhu (1976) became his stepping stone. But despite his own burgeoning career, he was mostly asked to sing in the style of his father, Kishore Kumar and in the 1990s, he moved away from playback singing.

Just last year, Amit Kumar stated that he had enough of the music business. He admitted in a national newspaper, “More than half of my life I have spent grappling with the long shadow cast by my illustrious father.” Instead, he has started a music label, Kumar Brothers Music (KBM), with his younger brother Sumit and works on his own music.

Another star son, Suneil Anand debuted in Anand Aur Anand (1984) by his father Dev Anand and co-starred Rakhee, Smita Patil and Raj Babbar. Despite this star-studded launch, the audience failed to warm up to him as an actor. Suneil Anand appeared in a handful of films, all which weren’t memorable. Today, he runs his family’s iconic banner Navketan and concentrates on filmmaking.

Music composer Viju Shah started out as an assistant and arranger for his father Kalyanji Shah and uncle Anandji Shah. In the 1990s, he had several hit soundtracks with Vishwatama (1992), Mohra (1994), Tere Mere Sapne (1996) and Gupt (1997). He won the Filmfare Award for Best Background  Score for setting the mood with its contemporary and suspenseful score. However, since then, his music has failed to connect with listeners.

Nitin Mukesh

Singer Nitin Mukesh has a distinct voice yet the comparisons with his distinguished father, Mukesh, persisted throughout his career. On top of that, Mukesh was able to lend his voice to several heroes while his son Nitin Mukesh could only sing for certain actors. He usually sang duets and his most notable song, ‘So Gaya Yeh Jahan’, was from Tezaab (1988).

Here, his father’s famous name, joint so closely with his, hindered his musical journey. Nitin Mukesh’s son, Neil Nitin Mukesh, bypassed singing and chose to make it as an actor instead. Maybe that was wiser.

Abhishek Bachchan with Amitabh Bachchan

Abhishek Bachchan was probably dealt the harshest cards when he decided to pursue acting. It was both a gift and a curse that he was the son of Amitabh Bachchan. Abhishek, though he struggled initially, has managed to find his own niche in the industry. He’s been a part of a blockbuster franchise, Dhoom, carried Mani Rathnam’s Guru (2007) with his strong performance and held his own opposite his father in films like Paa (2009). But whatever he does, he’s still reminded of the fact that he’s not his father.

In a 1994 piece in GQ on singer Frank Sinatra Jr, writer Tom Junod wrote, “He sounds just similar enough to his father to invite comparison and just different enough to make the comparison punishing.” No doubt, these star sons can all attest to this uncomfortable feeling at some point in their lives.