Article Hindi

75th birthday special: Can you spot actor-director Subhash Ghai?

As the filmmaker who styled himself the Showman turns 75, we look at five occasions when Subhash Ghai made cameo appearances in songs in his films.

Suyog Zore

Every director leaves a mark on the film s/he makes. Sometimes it happens unconsciously, but most times it is the director's conscious choice. Some do it via their craft, like Quentin Tarantino's famous car-trunk POV, Edgar Wright's matching scenes transitions, JJ Abrams's use of lens flares and Wes Anderson's distinct style of placing his characters in the middle of the frame, defying all the rule books of cinematography.

Then there are some who choose a simpler and more direct method, like making a quick cameo appearance in their own films. Alfred Hitchcock, the master of suspense, was renowned for this, having made appearances in 39 of his 52 films, sometimes for just 10 seconds. So much so that it became a part of the cinematic experience to try and spot Hitchcock in his latest film.

In India, filmmaker Subhash Ghai, who began his career as an actor playing small parts and went on to be styled by the film glossies in the 1980s as the Showman, loved to plonk himself in the frame unexpectedly, for the audience that is.

Born on 24 January 1945, Subhash Ghai rose to fame with his directorial debut, Kalicharan (1976), starring his FTII (Film and Television Institute of India) friend Shatrughan Sinha in a double role. The film became a hit and Ghai was finally on his way.

With 21 films as director, many of them blockbuster hits, Subhash Ghai was certainly one of the top directors in Hindi cinema in the 1980s and 1990s. Apart from his craftsmanship as director, he was also known for his cameos, making blink-and-miss appearances in most of his films. Today, on his 75th birthday, we look at his cameo appearances in songs from his films.

'Paisa Ye Paisa' — Karz (1980)

Composed by the legendary music composer duo Laxmikant-Pyarelal and sung by Kishore Kumar in his flamboyant style, 'Paisa Ye Paisa', a peppy disco track from the reincarnation thriller Karz (1980), is still remembered by music lovers. But even die-hard fans of the film may not have noticed this blink-and-miss cameo appearance by director Subhash Ghai. The director appears bang in the centre of the frame for a couple of seconds in the audience, mouthing the word 'Paisa'.

'Ding Dong' — Hero (1983)

This film marked Jackie Shroff's debut in Hindi cinema. Hero, starring Shroff and Meenakshi Seshadri, was all the rage among the audience and so was the music by Laxmikant-Pyarelal. Subhash Ghai made a small appearance in this song as well. The director is more recognizable here as he appears in the song as a man whose car has broken down in the middle of the road.

'Tera Naam Liya' — Ram Lakhan (1988)

Ram Lakhan, starring Jackie Shroff, Anil Kapoor, Dimple Kapadia and Madhuri Dixit, was an action thriller of the ideological tussle between two brothers. The film also had memorable music by Ghai favourites Laxmikant-Pyarelal, especially the romantic duet 'Tera Naam Liya'. Subhash Ghai made a cameo appearance in this song, showing up on screen for a few seconds astride a motorcycle.

'Palkhi Mein Hoke Sawar' — Khal Nayak (1993)

As the title suggests, this was a film with a villain, or an anti-hero, as its main character. Starring Sanjay Dutt, Madhuri Dixit and Jackie Shroff, this action drama was a box-office hit. Like the previous three films in this list, Khal Nayak, too, had music by Laxmikant-Pyarelal. Subhash Ghai made a small appearance in the song 'Palkhi Mein Hoke Sawar' as a man who picks up a ring thrown by Madhuri Dixit.

'I Love My India' Part 2 — Pardes (1997)

Pardes, starring Shah Rukh Khan, Mahima Chaudhari and Amrish Puri, was the first time Subhash Ghai made a full-blown romantic drama. Though all his previous films had had romantic subplot, they were all action-orientated stories. But there was another common thread in the films mentioned in the list above and Pardes (1997). That was Subhash Ghai's cameo in the song 'I Love My India'. He is seen singing on a boat  towards the end of the song.