Time was when Hindi films were known for famous teams – composers, lyricists, directors and producers all formed famous teams with each other and with stars and even playback singers.
Composers Laxmikant-Pyarelal with lyricist Anand Bakshi, lyricist Majrooh Sultanpuri with Nasir Husain, producer B.R. Chopra with his director brother Yash Chopra, Kalyanji-Anandji with filmmaker Prakash Mehra, filmmaker Shakti Samanta with Sharmila Tagore, director Vijay Anand with his actor-producer-brother Dev Anand, lyricist Anjaan with Amitabh Bachchan, Mukesh for Raj Kapoor, Lata Mangeshkar for Nargis and last but not the least Dharmendra and Hema Malini were examples of illustrious teams that not only represented high commercial viability but distinct yet sustained creative excellence.
When the ethos of filmmaking changed from loyalty and comfort-zone excellence to project-specific associates, and cold professionalism and the mantra of trying out new things began to rule over emotions, teams as we knew them began to quickly take a backseat. For example, today's male superstars prefer young female co-stars, so much so that the maximum we can expect from a lead pair is three or four spaced-out films in their careers, unlike Dharam-Hema's record of over twenty-five films!
To be fair, the quantum of films made simultaneously by one banner often necessitates multiple teams in music and cast and crew. Films today are shot in a more organized manner, increasingly at one quick stretch, and contracts tend to be almost water-tight due to spiralling economics, planned release dates, insurance and other factors.
But it is a moot point whether the art is still as good as the craft. However, the heart quotient has, beyond any doubt, diminished. In such a scenario, it is almost touching to see some teams still surviving or even flourishing.
However, while Rajesh did both the songs and background score of all of Rakesh's films (and specially scored with brilliance in the sci-fi Koi…Mil Gaya), he was replaced by Salim-Sulaiman since Krrish in 2006. This remains a blow to Rajesh Roshan fans who know his brilliant record in this field even outside his brother's banner. Whatever be the reasons, the background score continues to be Salim-Sulaiman's terrain through Krazzy 4 and Kites to the forthcoming Krrish 3.
When Farhan Akhtar turned filmmaker, it was a given that all his films would have lyrics by his father Javed Akhtar. But even here the recent Fukrey has been an exception – the lyrics were shared by the film's director Mrighdeep Singh Lamba with Munna Dhiman and the film's writer Vipul Vig. Farhan made light of the issue when asked about this and said, "Is this our first film minus my father? Well, Mrighdeep came to us with his team!"
When the home turf can have such exceptions, what can we expect from purely professional associations in the days to come?
The loyal breed And so once again, teams are something cheering. A few days ago, there were reports of Salman Khan wanting Himesh Reshammiya to sing for him – in a Sajid-Wajid song! While there is said to be no love lost between the duo and Himesh, they are both protégés of the superstar (who were introduced with a song each in the 1998 Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya) and individually have great rapports with him.
With Sajid-Wajid, it's been smooth sailing with Salman throughout and so they have done many more films with the actor (Hello Brother, Mujhse Shaadi Karogi, Partner, Wanted, Veer, Dabangg and Dabangg 2 among others) than Himesh and are now scoring for Mental.
With Himesh Reshammiya, the grapevine claims (and Himesh denies) that things had soured in between with Salman. However, their impressive resume includes Hello Brother, Tere Naam, Maine Pyar Kyun Kiya and the allegedly patch-up film Bodyguard, with Kick on the way.
From the other two Khans, Aamir Khan seems to have suddenly developed a yen for Ram Sampath. Following Delhi Belly, the music maker also scored a remix in Peepli [Live] and composed the songs of Talaash.
Shah Rukh Khan may have had a tiff with Vishal-Shekhar over the use of Yo Yo Honey Singh's 'Lungi dance' in Chennai Express but another good friend of the duo, Farah Khan, has engineered a quick truce between them and the duo are still scoring Happy New Year for the SRK-Farah combo after the 2007 Om Shanti Om. Vishal Shekhar also did RA.One for Shah Rukh Khan and Tees Maar Khan for Farah Khan. Incidentally, Farah is back to SRK too, with whom her directorial innings began with Main Hoon Na in 2004, after going Akshay Kumar-wards in Tees Maar Khan following her own rift with him!
Vishal-Shekhar as a duo have also largely flourished in their careers thanks to their tight friendships with other filmmaker names like Sujoy Ghosh (the 2003 Jhankaar Beats down to Kahaani), Siddharth Anand (the 2005 Salaam Namaste down to the forthcoming Bang Bang) and Karan Johar (the 2008 Dostana, Student of The Year, Gippi, Gori Tere Pyaar Mein, Ungli).
Farhan Akhtar's first outside film as a director, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, has music by his old friends, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy. They have also been an inseparable part of his productions that he directed (Dil Chahta Hai in 2001, Lakshya, Don, Don2) and the directorial outings of his sister Zoya (Luck By Chance, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara) in which he acted, besides Rock On!! in which he made his singing and acting debut. Their friendship goes back to the time when Farhan knew Ehsaan through a common friend, and Farhan had observed S-E-L at work during Breathless, his father Javed Akhtar's non-film album with them.
Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy have two more strong loyalists – directors Nikhil Advani and Shaad Ali. The former, who recently directed D-Day and in the past has done Kal Ho Naa Ho (their first association in 2003) and Salaam-E-Ishq among others states, "They are my voice. They understand what I want without my needing to tell them!" Shaad has worked with them on Bunty Aur Babli (2005) and Jhoom Barabar Jhoom and is now doing Kill Dil.
Pritam loves working with Anurag Basu since their first outing in Gangster (2006), through Life In A…Metro and Barfi and Basu's next planned films, of which Jagga Jasoos will now be made first.
Ramesh Taurani has stuck to Pritam too since the 2007 Naqaab through Kismat Konnection, Race, Race 2 and now Phata Poster Nikla Hero. The last-mentioned film's hero, Shahid Kapoor, despite a very dry run in recent times, has also preferred the composer in almost every film since the 2007 Jab We Met through Kismat Konnection, Badmaash Company, his home production Mausam and another forthcoming film, Rambo Rajkumar.
And even if by default, Pritam seems to have a set team with Ranbir Kapoor as well (Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani, Raajneeti, Barfi, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, Jagga Jasoos) too. Another filmmaker who cannot work minus Pritam is Kunal Deshmukh, the director of Jannat, Tum Mile and Jannat 2.
Music director Vishal Bhardwaj has stuck to lyricist Gulzar in his own films as producer and director since Makdee in 2002, through Maqbool, Omkara, Kaminey, Ishqiya and more, and intends clearly to remain loyal even in the future, with Dedh Ishqiya as their next.
Producer Sajid Nadiadwala, who is into multiple projects now, is back with old favourite Salman Khan in his directorial debut Kick. They had worked together in the 1996 Jeet followed by Judwaa, Har Dil Jo Pyaar Karega, Mujhse Shaadi Karogi and the 2006 Jaan-E-Mann. The last two films had also starred Akshay Kumar, and so will Sajid's next in the Housefull franchise (both of which starred Akshay), whenever it is made. Akshay Kumar, whose relationship with Sajid dates back to the 1993 Waqt Hamara Hai, has also done Heyy Babyy and Kambakkht Ishq with him.
And it does not seem to be a coincidence that after Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham… (2001), Kurbaan and Ekk Main Aur Ek Tu, Karan Johar is producing Gori Tere Pyaar Mein, Budtameez Dil as well as Shuddhi with Kareena Kapoor!
Last but emphatically not the least, we have the unusual case of Shah Rukh Khan taking Deepika Padukone, his own discovery in Om Shanti Om, in two more home productions – Chennai Express and now Happy New Year. This is a remarkable team-up indeed for a top male and top female star in today's times! A hat-trick of hits seem to be in the offing!