Posted: September 2, 2010 in Movies

What is common between Dev Anand, Shammi Kapoor, Rajesh Khanna, Rajinikanth, Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan, Shah Rukh Khan?

They are all not just individual superstars but first a HERO.

The other day I offered my watchman a couple of spare tickets for a newly released hindi film. First thing he asked me before accepting the offer “bhaiya hero kauuun hain“.

Hero today is synonymous with stars or rather superstars. But do we know the reason why? Actors don’t become Stars overnight. What’s makes a star out of an actor is his ability to play the Hero meticulously and consistently. The secret of superstars or rather Heroes is that they qualify and deliver to certain expectations from the audience. So what’s the definition of a ‘HERO’?

To understand it in simple terms lets break it up… H-E-R-O

H: Histrionics
Film is a derived medium of entertainment. Derived largely from theatre, which was existent since centuries. Theatre is about acting live in front of several people who watch the performance from various distances and angles. Therefore the actors have to give a highly charged and melodramatic presentation to engage the audience. This charged and larger than life, showmanship got absorbed by cinema so much so that it has become an integral part of its bloodstream. Actors employ the audience’s attention with their ability to exhibit various emotions credibly through their screen characters. In Bollywood especially we have great actors who have played different shades of drama, romance, comedy and action in the same film within the same character width. Histrionics is when the actors emotionally absorb the audience and keep them awestruck with their onscreen charm and chutzpah. Histrionics thus becomes one of the most important components of a Hero’s identity.

E: Empathy
To empathize with, literally means to identify with. We all have the desire to become heroes in our own right. Like Dale Carnegie put it, “All human actions are out of the sex urge or the desire to be great.” Thus it’s easy to identify with heroes who are in pursuit of achievements that make them larger than life. The conflicts created in the story act as stumbling blocks and put the Hero in distress time and again. The vulnerability in the Hero moves the audience and thus they love to empathize with him since in reality we all are crammed with vulnerabilities. Heroes use their might and will to overcome these hindrances both external and internal and rise to glory.

R: Root for
Often Films flop because though crafted with various cinematic dynamics as the audience fails to identify who the Hero of the Film is. The audience invests in a movie with the desire to root for their Hero. Yet at times the Hero is either motiveless or ill defined. Thus the audience after sitting through the whole saga comes out feeling empty as they couldn’t identify with the protagonist or worst, there was nobody to root for. Take any sport where spectators love to cheer and follow their sport star, since they believe in him and want him to win. Likewise the movie buffs root for their Hero, want to see him overcome all obstacles, win the heart of his beloved, outwit the archrival, overpower the villains paraphernalia and save the world just in the nick of time. That’s when the audience walks out of the cinema hall breathless, yet with a feeling of being on cloud nine… All because the Hero they rooted for didn’t let them down.

O: Outstanding
The journey of the hero has to be outstanding. Nobody wants to see a hero who starts as a milkman at the beginning of the film and remains so without any remarkable achievements. But the audience would love to see a milkman who gets hit by a truck and then he wakes up in the hospital with the divine ability of being able to read people’s minds… Now we are talking. A hero cannot be mundane and boring. Likewise he doesn’t have to necessarily be flashy or superhuman. Most importantly it’s his journey in the film that is extra?ordinary.

Two small time thieves are hired to kill a big dacoit in order to avenge the mass murder of a Policeman’s family, in pursuit they find their soul mates but lose out on their partnership since one of them dies – Sholay. An ordinary student with creative skills walks into a university, finds his soul mate, helps couple of his friends find their real purpose, pranks with a bookworm, teaches an arrogant professor not only how to educate others but also how to lead a truly successful and meaningful life, and ultimately ends up following his passion, with the world chasing him? 3 Idiots.

Heroes are not necessarily always larger than life in their looks or getup. It’s their deeds, their attitude and their achievements in the screen story that makes them idols to die for. Heroes are nothing but incredible journeys of struggle and triumph that deep down everyone of us wants to experience on a day to day basis.

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