Nitesh Kumar Sahoo

Nayak Nahi Khalnayak Hoon Mein, I love My India or Taal Se Taal Mila… All these iconic songs refresh everyone’s mind and take back to the 90s when Sanjay Dutt, Shah Rukh Khan, and Aishwarya Rai ruled the silver screens. Everyone remembers the actors performing in the song and their movies. However, very few remember the real hero behind these iconic products who sits behind the camera and navigates these to turn them iconic.

The connection between all these songs is that they are knitted by a single person and he is none other than eminent filmmaker Subhash Ghai. Also referred to as 'The Showman of Bollywood,' Ghai is one of the most prolific film directors, scriptwriters, and producers in Hindi cinema. He was one of the most successful and prominent filmmakers in Hindi cinema throughout the 80s and 90s. He earned a huge reputation for launching new talents and turning them into blockbusters.

A few of his notable works include Kalicharan, Vishwanath, Karz, Hero, Karma, Ram Lakhan, Saudagar, Khalnayak, and Taal. He is also known for making special appearances in his own movies. But did you know that Ghai stepped into the industry as an actor?

Delving into Subhash Ghai's early life and his failures

During a recent podcast with ANI, Ghai talked about his journey from being forced to become a Chartered Accountant to emerging as one of the most successful filmmakers. Rather than talking about success, he focused on his failures.

As Ghai revealed, his father was a doctor, and his mother a graduate. While his father was 'Hitler' type, he always forced him to make a respectable career instead of getting indulged in entertaining others. However, it was his mother who supported him. 

“Being a doctor, my father was a very disciplined person. In school, my teachers used to praise me as a good student, but they also called me a bad boy as I was very naughty. I used to question a lot and was a big nonsense to my teachers,” he said.

At the age of 10, he started acting and also wrote stories for magazines. By then he already had developed an interest in writing and quite often mimicked others. His mother used to support him a lot being a graduate. “I could detect a talent in me, but the talent was snubbed, as parents want you to be a clone of them,” Ghai said.

His parents separated at a very young age; however, it didn't affect him in any way. Rather, it helped him. He was quite influenced by the movies he watched. Though he had no such intention, he learned a lot from his surroundings related to varying cultures, social life, etc. which later helped him in filmmaking. Later, when Ghai grew up, his father forced him to pursue B. Com. He resided in a hostel. At his college, he formed a cultural club including dance, music, and drama. His initiative was welcomed by the college authorities as well as other students. Ghai used to write, act, and direct plays. He even won a gold medal for his initiative and his college won several awards in inter-college competitions.

Subhash convinced his father to step into the entertainment industry

As said, his father was Hitler-type and wanted him to become a Chartered Accountant, Ghai couldn't approach him with his dreams. After a pause, Ghai finally shared his thoughts with his father about working in the cinema. However, his father supported him and asked him to join FTI in Pune and pursue a certified course to obtain an identity. His father sent him to Pune with a statutory warning of financing him for 4 years and after that, he won't remain his father. His father was convinced by Ghai’s college principal.

With his bundles of hopes and dedication, Subhash kickstarted his journey to Pune. 

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Subhash- The actor

Ghai earned name and fame as a director, writer, producer, and lyricist after immense struggle in the industry. However, very few know that Ghai stepped into the industry with hopes of becoming an actor (hero). As he had no contacts in the industry, it was quite tough for him to get an entry. However, he got the chance at a talent hunt show. He participated in the show and impressed several biggies of the industry with his performance and scored the highest number. However, Kaka or Rajesh Khanna, who was another contestant, bagged the offer. Later, he started his career in supporting roles. Be it in Aradhana or Umang, he played his character well. Following that, he was offered lead roles. He had 8-10 movies in a row as the lead; however, most of his movies got shelved. In the lead, he has a few movies that are least known to anyone. 

Meanwhile, as a supporting actor, he discussed his stories with his coactors. One day, one of the co-actors approached the director Prakash Mehra, and praised Ghai's story. After listening to the story, the director handed him Rs 500 and said; ‘now the story is mine’. However, Ghai laid a condition for playing the second lead character in the movie. As the actors for the story were previously signed, the director denied his proposal. Though he denied giving his story, later, he sold it. Following that, Ghai was approached by several leading directors. He sold out his stories to filmmakers and made arrangements for his bread and butter. However, after films were made on his stories, he was disappointed as the directors didn’t make it as Ghai imagined.

How did actor Subhash Ghai become a director?

During his struggles, Ghai approached Shatrughan Sinha for Kalicharan as he wrote the script with Sinha in his mind. However, the actor who was then an established actor in negative roles, denied working on the script. He used to carry the script of Kalicharan along with other scripts. However, the filmmakers picked the other script and said no to Kalicharan.

Later, a big filmmaker approached Ghai asking for a script. But, Ghai said that all his scripts were sold and he had only Kalicharan. The director agreed to hear the story. Later, he also called Ghai to his house where he introduced Ghai to his other friends as his film's director. 

When the filmmaker met Sinha and talked about Ghai and Kalicharan, the Dostana actor praised his friend as well as the script.

Ghai had a memorable experience with Kalicharan. As he was new to direction, he sought help from all the technicians and crew. The movie went on to become a super hit and Ghai earned the reputation of being a successful director. 

With Kalicharan, Ghai laid the foundation for becoming a successful director. After his first blockbuster, he directed Vishwanath, Gautam Govinda, and Krodhi. After that, he never looked back and the rest is history. As the director emphasises, there are many things to learn from failures; rather than getting disheartened. Moreover, it is crucial to remain honest. Well, there are several things for the young aspirants to learn from the iconic director. Of course, the X-factor that led him to achieve success was honesty.