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Sammir Dattani: Flop film, successful debut

Wednesday, June 23, 2004 • Hindi Comments
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The lead in Rajshri's recent teen love story "Uuf Kya Jaadoo Mohabbat Hai", Sammir Dattani, has sailed through his unsuccessful debut film and is actually listening to two scripts a day.

Sammir was only 17 when he shot for a music video for Rajshri films. Today, at 22, the lead actor of "Uuf Kya..." has already moved beyond his flop debut and is charting out a new career course.

Though his Hindi debut was a miserable failure, the film industry seems to think he's the only newcomer worth a second look.

Every day, Sammir listens to at least two script narrations though he very candidly admits: "They aren't all of a very high quality, nor are they offers from the best banners. But some of them are very promising.

"This includes an international project '48 Hours In Chicago' to be co-produced by the Pakistani actor Omar Sharif. I play an Indian pop singer stalked by a fan in the US. It's a very interesting subject and I will probably do it."

Sammir has also met Manish Malhotra for his directorial debut. Malhotra found him "promising". Being a romantic musical, his directorial debut has a tailor made role for Sammir.

But being an insider, Malhotra might be tempted to sign star son Shahid Kapur instead.

"It's funny you should mention him," smiles the sensible youngster. "A lot of offers coming my way are those that would have gone to Shahid had he gone on being the new teenybopper sensation after 'Ishq Vishq'. But he has chosen a different path."

So is Sammir happy being what Shahid Kapur was expected to be?

"Not really. With due respects to Shahid, I'd rather be Sammir. I've been facing the camera since the age of 17... have done dozens of ads."

Interestingly, Sammir made his feature film debut as a leading man in Kannada films two years ago. His first film "Nanna Preetiya Hudugi" was a hit and so was the second "Mona Lisa" which made him a teenybopper sensation in Karnataka.

"And I don't mind going back to regional cinema. Even Bhoomika Chawla first became successful in Tamil and Telugu before Hindi. My next project might be another Kannnada film before I go on to my second Hindi film."

There are offers from several producers including the Bhatts and the Barjatyas who probably want to make another film with Sammir in the lead.

Being an outsider with no links whatsoever in the industry, does he feel isolated and persecuted?

"Not the least. In fact I've been welcomed without any struggle. The Rajshri banner, no less, chose to launch me in Hindi cinema. And no matter what its fate at the box office, I'll always be happy and proud to have done 'Uuf Kya Jaadoo Mohabbat Hai'. I and co-star Pooja Kanwal shared some very happy experiences."

Unfortunately, as often happens with a debutant pair (Kajol and Kamal Sadanah in "Bekhudi", Karisma and Hareesh in "Prem Qaidi", Madhuri and Tapas Paul in "Abodh", Manisha Koirala and Vivek Mushran in "Saudagar"), only one of the pair seems to have grabbed the attention.

Sammir isn't analyzing his flop film-successful debut status. Instead, he's honing his skills: yoga and diction classes in the morning, dancing and singing classes in the evening.

He clearly senses the onset of a successful spin in his career, and he's prepared for it.

He isn't the first debutante to have been noticed in a disastrous film.

Rajesh Khanna in "Raaz" and Amitabh Bachchan in "Saath Hindustani" were hardly the stuff superstars are made of. They suffered a spate of duds before "Aradhana" and "Zanjeer", respectively, happened to their careers.

"And before we forget, the Rajshris' own Madhuri Dixit took a few years to go from 'Abodh' to 'Hum Aapke Hain Kaun'. I can wait. I've age on my side. And I've no financial worries -- my family business waits for me. I can afford to be selective," says the 22-year old who's likely to get all the Best Male Debutant awards at the end of the year.

"Will I?" he wonders. "I don't know. If I do, I'll make my parents and sister proud. To them, my film career is an extremely strange passion. They know nothing about the film industry. And to them their son is the biggest superstar.

"Now if only the rest of the world would listen to them," chuckles the promising newcomer before he sits down patiently to listen to another producer's offer for a teenage love story. "The story of life!" Sammir smiles.

"I guess I'm the youngest, so I fit the bubblegum slot. But I don't want to be the youngest aspirant. I want to create a place for myself beyond the puppy love slot. Is that a tall order?" he asks.

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