I have an obsession with firsts. First films, first appearances, first time I've seen someone in a film -- all of these are important to me.
I mentioned that my first exposure to Bobby, his first film, Barsaat, had me totally smitten. And my first exposure to Sunny was Arjun Pandit, which was enough to put me off him, at least for a while. First films, first encounters -- they can make or break your relationship with an actor, if you let them.
I love first or debut films (for actors, for directors, for writers) because I love to think of them as the seeds for whatever comes next in their career. In Bollywood, in particular, where there's this tendency for whole families to go into the business of cinema, and for one generation to launch its sons or daughters, first films take on a whole new meaning -- we're not just talking about an actor getting his or her big break, we're talking about a manufactured, carefully prepared launch, and as such, often those first films are tailored to show off what the young actor can do, to introduce them carefully and lovingly to an audience, and often project the kind of image or avatar the family hopes they'll take on in the industry.
I find it interesting that in the case of Sunny, Bobby, and Abhay -- all three were launched by Dharmendra, all three were paired with a heroine also making her debut (Amrita Singh with Sunny; Twinkle Khanna with Bobby; and in the case of Abhay, Ayesha Takia -- though it wasn't the first of her films to be released, in the end.), which stands a little bit in contrast to the trend today, to pair the debutant(e) in question opposite an established star. And although each of their films is different, there are also these strong core messages in each of them that are dear to the Deol clan.
I'll be writing about each of their debut films here during Deol Dhamaka. Alas, I do not own Dil Bhi Tera Hum Bhi Tere, listed as Dharmendra's first film everywhere. Everywhere, that is, except in the Encyclopedia of Indian Cinema, which, curiously, has one film listed prior to DBTHBT: Railway Platform, from 1955, directed by Ramesh Saigal, and featuring amongst its cast one Sunil Dutt, making *his* film debut.
I have not seen Railway Platform (yet. It's on one of my endless lists....), but I was incredibly curious, so I went trolling videos on YouTube, and sure enough, I found Dharam-ji, in the video for the song "Andher Nagri Chaupat Raja":
Seriously, he's there: watch carefully from around 0:30 to 0:37, he's in the back on the right. Yeah, I know, blink and you'll miss him:
I love it. Just love it. I don't know if he's anywhere else in the film, but he's not in any of the other videos from it that I've watched on YouTube. But still. I love it.