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Respect senior actors please!

What’s with the seniority in the casting these days in our films. Please note that our films are not Hollywood films, so I was simply appall...

What’s with the seniority in the casting these days in our films. Please note that our films are not Hollywood films, so I was simply appalled to see that Amitabh Bachchan got second billing to Ajay Devgn in ‘Runway 34’, Sanjay Dutt getting second billing to both Ajay and Akshay in ‘Bhuj’ and ‘Prithviraj’ respectively. Akshay took a higher billing to Govinda in ‘Bhagam Bhag’. Jackie, of course, had been relegated to small character roles much earlier.

Now the point is did Ashok Kumar ever (i.e. in prominent character roles) get second billing in any film. Never! Sunil Dutt got higher billing than AB in Shaan though the latter was the main hero. Did Amitabh ever get the first billing in films with Dharmendra, Shashi Kapoor, Sanjeev Kumar, Waheeda Rehman or any senior actors during his reign?

What’s with today’s filmmakers? Where is the seniority respect for actors? There have been cases where megalomaniacs like Anil Kapoor took higher billing than Sanjay Dutt in ‘No Problem’ but don’t you think Sanjay (1981) came much ahead of AK (1983) as a hero or even in films like ‘Reshma aur Shera’ (1971) to that of Hamare Tumhare (1979)? Sunny took second billing to Sanjay but took the top billing in films he featured with AK, then how does AK take top billing to SD?

Coming to today’s scenario, I think our makers are following Hollywood where the billing is according to the roles / titular characters. But where is the respect? Even Aamir and Anushka, Ram Charan and Priyanka got higher billing than Sanjay in films like ‘PK’ and ‘Zanjeer’. Can you imagine that Priyanka who played SD’s heroine in ‘Plan’ getting a higher billing?

Ranbir took a higher billing than his parents in ‘Besharam’. Sanjay didn’t take a higher billing than Sunil Dutt in ‘Munnabhai MBBS’.

There are many such films and if you all love films and actors you would understand what I am trying to establish here. Since childhood I have seen Ashok Kumar getting top billing till the time he acted - see any film in the 60s, 70s, 80s & 90s, or even before 2003 and you will know what I mean.

Salman despite being a superstar/hero of the film gave top billing to Anil (‘Yuvraaj’) and Govinda (‘Partner’). Kudos to him. But again in ‘Lucky’ he took higher billing than Mithun. The same is the case with SRK, Akshay, or any actor today with bloated egos.

There was an uproar recently when Ranbir’s name appeared before AB in the ‘Brahmastra’ poster and teaser, where fans demanded that it be the other way round, and pronto the teaser was revised with AB getting top billing.

Despite being the younger brother Rishi Kapoor got higher billing than Randhir in ‘Housefull 2’ because of his seniority in the film line. Rishi debuted in ‘Mera Naam Joker’ in 1970 whereas Randhir made his debut in 1971 with ‘Kal Aaj Aur Kal’.

In ‘Total Dhamaal’, Ajay’s name appears on top of the billing above Anil and Madhuri. Similar was the case in Akshay’s ‘Boss’ where he took a higher billing than Mithun Chakraborty.

Production companies and today’s so-called icons should keep in mind that superstars like Sanjay, Mithun, or any seniors should get the first billing seniority-wise in films. If that is too much to ask then do away with the cast billing system or simply have it as cast in order of appearance. Period!

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