Sunday, January 29, 2012

STAR COUPLES....My article in Metroplus on 25th January

I wrote an article for the Hindu Metroplus dated 25th January.....It was edited from a slightly bigger article , more general and with a fuller world is the total version , for those interested in reading what came in the Hindu - here is that link too -


Marriages are made in Heaven is an oft repeated phrase. With Valentine’s Day round the corner “love is in the air”. Many marriages have stood the test of time and tribulations but more often than not The marriage of a couple from Tinsel Town has always been viewed at with doubts about its longevity. Indian Cinema too has had its fair share of break ups. This problem becomes more acute when both are from The Film Industry. The formula for leading men in those days was to Marry a quiet, simple Homemaker and for the leading lady it was to marry a successful businessman preferably from overseas. What was almost an essential was for the Lady to quit her Profession. I must add that many a film marriage has been quite successful and both have scaled heights of professional excellence.

One of the greatest honours a person can get is when he or she is featured on a Postage Stamp. It is quite a rare occurrence for a Husband and wife to be featured together on a Stamp – Pierre and Madame Curie were on several Stamps , one of the earliest being the French Issue in 1938.

Recently Monaco honoured Baba Amte’s son Dr.Prakash Amte and his wife Dr.Mandakini Amte with a Postage stamp. The Comedienne Lucille Ball and her actor, singer husband Desi Arnaz too feature in a Stamp.

During Royal Weddings , the couple is often featured in Stamps issued to commemorate the occasion. Even the latest wedding of Prince Harry was featured in Stamps issued by UK, New Zealand, Gibraltar. Actress Grace Kelly when she married Prince Rainier of Monaco was also one such.

It has always been a practice till recently by all recognised Philatelic Countries , not to issue Stamps for people who are still alive – Royalty and Heads of State apart. Dictators like Idi Amin had their way , either it was their head on a Stamp or the official’s on the Block.

Since Independence, India has issued around 2700 Stamps and The Father of the Nation and Kasturba Gandhi have been honoured on Stamps both Individually and together. In fact Mahatma Gandhi is one of the most featured people on Stamps by the largest number of Countries. The Couple adorn both a Stamp and a Postcard.

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Kamala Nehru too have been issued with Individual Stamps. His daughter Indira and grandsons Sanjay and Rajiv too have been featured on Stamps.

Durgabhai Deshmukh, Freedom Fighter and Social Reformer and her husband C.D.Deshmukh , the first Indian Governor of Reserve Bank of India , have also been featured in Stamps. She was a member of the Constituent assembly while he went on to become the Finance Minister of the Country from 1950 to 1956.

The three other couples so honoured are related to the Film Industry and the world of Arts.

Devika Rani , the famous actress and her Husband Svetoslav Roerich were both honoured with Stamps. He was a famous Painter. His father Nicholas Roerich too has been honoured with a Postage Stamp making it a unique family – Philatelically speaking as well.

Gemini Ganesh and Savithri have received this great honour. In a career spanning 50 Years Gemini had acted in more than 200 films in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada and even Hindi. He was affectionately called the King of Romance ( Kadhal Mannan). In her 30 plus years of acting Savithri acted in more than 300 Films. She has also Directed a few Films and was known for her portrayal of tragic roles.

The multi talented Singer, actor Kishore Kumar and his wife Madhubala have both been featured on Stamps.

The one on screen couple that shook India in the 50s was Raj Kapoor and Nargis Dutt. They too have been honoured. In Nargis’s case the stamp shows the logo of the Spastics Society of India, an Institution for which she was the first Patron. Sunil Dutt sending a letter using the Stamp honouring his wife Nargis is truly poignant . Sunil Dutt specifically forbade any such move to honour him and so collectors like me lost a golden opportunity.

From International Cinema we have The Star Couple of Lord Lawrence Olivier and Vivian Leigh joining the ranks while the entire Barrymore family feature in a stamp of the United States. Lionel, Ethel and John , the grandfather of Hollywood actress Drew Barrymore. Alfred and Lynn Fontane , the famous actor couple too have been featured in a Stamp.

With almost half the Indian couples honoured for Professional and Social excellence by a Postage Stamp hailing from the Film Industry , It must lay to rest the adage that “Filmi” marriages do not result in a fair deal for both. All of them truly had the Stamp of a great Couple.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Earning Potential Sivaji Ganesan or Sivaji Rao (Rajinikanth) ??

Someone asked me the other day , when I remarked that during their heydays actors of the 60s were quite reasonably paid , those who had invested wisely are till today comfortable and those who frittered away their hard earned money are facing tough times.

My friend remarked that at his peak in the mid 1960s Sivaji is reputed to have charged a 1,00,000 or maybe a 1.5 lakhs , whereas today's Heros are all charging several crores - this set me thinking on who will have the greater earning Potential ?

Though the Title suggests the names of two leading actors, these observations are general. When I went through a historical record of the average Gold price for 10 gms of Gold in India , Yearwise I was quite surprised - Just for information , the data is as below.

In 1932 , the Year my father was born it was - Rs 23 per 10 gms ( average price)

In 1956 , when I was born it was - Rs 91

Whereas the price in the 60s ranged from Rs112 In 1960 and it rose to Rs 175 and in 1969.

Let us average it as Rs 150 for the 1960s and the quantum of Gold a Top hero could have bought from a Picture's earnings would have been 1000 , 10 gm coins - assuming 1.5 lakhs as his income.

The 2011 average Gold price is given at Rs 26, 400. ( 2006 . -Rs . 8,400 , 2007 - Rs.10,800 , 2009 - Rs.14,500 and 2010 - Rs.18,500 ).......To Buy 1000 coins of 10 gms , we will have to spend Rs 2.64 Crores now, or 1.45 crores in 2009. This is surely much more than what a top hero gets paid..... Does it mean that Today's stars are getting more ?

The answer is far different if we do some Historical analysis - I have heard that The Bungalow in Boag Road , as it was then called was Purchased for a Cost of One Picture's earnings. At a modest estimate of Rs 4 Crores per Ground (2,400 sq feet) , todays hero will have to shell out More than 60 Crores to acquire such a Property , if available.....Here I am not sure of the price as a single plot can probably fetch more too. I cannot think of any Hero making that kind of Money in Indian Cinema Today in one Film. (Unless he is Producing it as well.)

In the 1960s my father was offered a ground at about Rs 2,500 in Poes garden , When Anna Nagar was formed the price of a ground was even less in the late 1960s and early 1970s , so I think when we compare the Real estate Value of Money , The yester year Heros do fare far better.

Now for the Sting in the Tail - Please remember that In the 1960s , 70s and even 80s for all those declaring a net Income of over 6 figures , the Income Tax Rate was 90 plus percent.....Compare it with the Highest tax slab today....what does it reveal ???

That those who invested wisely , and let the real Estate Holdings just appreciate are far better off ?

I am just as confused at the end of this piece as I was at the beginning.....

Whatever be the amount they earned - Those legends left a telling mark because of their Competence and professionalism , as well as their concern for Society. It is my Prayer that we follow all the Good things they stood for and eschew that which we find bad.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.