Crossover Stars: Priyanka Chopra & Kapil Sharma

01 Oct,2015


By Shailesh Kapoor


Crossover (definition): The process of achieving success in a different field or style, from the one in which success is already established.


Crossover remains a much-used (and abused) word in the Indian entertainment business. But much talk on the subject has been fringe talk, whereby talent that’s not even successful in their own field has “crossed over” to another field, again to meet with limited or no success. In other cases, successful Indian film actors have crossed over to the West, but not made an impact, being reduced to fringe parts in Hollywood films or TV series.


There have been only four true crossover successes so far. Amitabh Bachchan reinventing himself and taking up KBC at a fairly low point in his film career would be on the top of my list. Shah Rukh Khan is the shining example of the opposite – a TV star who made it big in the films. AR Rahman has crossed over comfortably to world cinema, and even has a fatwa to show. Irrfan has discovered his niche at the world stage, at times in small parts, at times in major ones. There may be several other examples, but how successful they have been can be debated.


With just four case studies over all these decades, we could safely say that the crossovers are not our cup of tea. Until this week. As if to compensate for years of crossover failures, we had two huge success stories this week – Priyanka Chopra crossing over to the West with Quantico going on-air, and Kapil Sharma crossing over to films with the release of Kis Kisko Pyaar Karoon.


Chopra’s achievement is towering in its impact, and has been written about earlier in this column too. The show is now on-air and early reviews are a mix of positivity and skepticism. But even in the not-so-positive reviews, Chopra has been hailed as an accomplished actor and her casting has been described as a big strength of the show. Her international acting career could be on the verge of acquiring very long legs.


Sharma’s success is very different in nature. Kis Kisko Pyaar Karoon became the highest Bollywood opener for a debutant ever. It also registered higher weekend collections than many recent films featuring young stars. Importantly, the film achieved this by converting theatre non-goers to theatre-goers. Television is often seen as an “inferior” medium to films because it’s “free”. But when Sharma’s fans from television thronged the multiplexes to watch him on the big screen, that argument went out of the window.


If Sharma sticks to clean family comedies and chooses his scripts carefully, he could have a huge film career ahead of him. Family comedy is the most popular genre in Bollywood, and one that’s hugely under-served too, with very few releases in the genre over the last 4-5 years.


The future will determine the true degree of the crossover success achieved by Priyanka Chopra and Kapil Sharma, but my list has extended from four to six. And it looks a very powerful one too: Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan, AR Rahman, Irrfan, Priyanka Chopra and Kapil Sharma.




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