Classic director-actor jodies in Bollywood
Filmmakers build a crew around them, and once they find people they are truly comfortable with, they repeat the formula over and over -- knowing that they're onto a truly good thing.
And so it is that music directors, cinematographers, editors all become key parts of a director's team, and -- when a director is indeed lucky -- so is an actor.
It's been happening for ages, and while examples like Guru Dutt and Dev Anand pop instantly to mind, here's a look at actor-director combos in Hindi cinema since the 1970s, starting currently and moving backwards:
Karan Johar - Shah Rukh Khan
Johar might be evolving as a filmmaker and taking on more serious themes, but the director has no qualms in confessing that we are never going to see a KJo production without his favourite actor front and centre.
Khan too goes out on a limb for Johar, playing a variety of parts -- single parent, limping loser, autistic Muslim -- for his coffee buddy.
Image: Shah Rukh Khan and Karan Johar
Priyadarshan - Akshay Kumar
Akshay Kumar openly declares that he doesn't even read the script for a Priyadarshan film, he just signs up as soon as asked.
Not a big surprise, considering it was Priyan who made us all realise Kumar was a naturally gifted comic actor with Hera Pheri. This year, the duo are readying for their sixth film together, Khatta Meetha.
Image: Priyadarshan and Akshay Kumar
Rakesh Roshan - Hrithik Roshan
It's a pretty transparent father-son relationship, but the box office results the Roshans have ratcheted up are worthy of much applause.
Rakesh gave son Hrithik a dream launch with Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai, and since then created massive moneyspinners Koi... Mil Gaya and Krrish. He's also the man who has produced Hrithik's next, Anurag Basu's Kites.
Image: Rakesh Roshan and Hrithik Roshan
Sanjay Gupta - Sanjay Dutt
Their romance may be on the rocks now, but it began over 15 years ago with Gupta's Aatish. After that came Jung and Khauff.
Things were slow till Gupta gave up directorial dreams and became a celluloid copy machine, ripping off films with Dutt in each of them, mostly making money while at it: Kaante, Musafir, Zinda and Dus Kahaniyaan.
Image: Sanjay Gupta and Sanjay Dutt
Ram Gopal Varma - Amitabh Bachchan
It's one of the few modern actor-director combos you can count on.
After RGV took Bachchan back near the top with Sarkar, the Big B's been paying back the favour by starring wherever Ramu needs him.
The result: Darna Zaroori Hai, Nishabd, Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag, Sarkar Raj and Rann. Now we hear Varma's setting up Sarkar 3.
Image: Ram Gopal Varma and Amitabh Bachchan
Sooraj Barjatya - Salman Khan
He might have appeared in the little-seen Biwi Ho To Aisi a year before, but Salman truly made a splash only with his second film, Barjatya's Maine Pyar Kiya. The film was a historic success, and Sooraj followed it up with an even bigger smash, Hum Aapke Hain Koun...!
The duo came together one more time with Hum Saath Saath Hain, and even though they haven't made a film since, Barjatya's heroes all use Salman's most popular screen name, Prem.
Image: Sooraj Barjatya and Salman Khan
Mansoor Khan - Aamir Khan
Aamir's cousin Mansoor directed him in his big, mega-successful starry launch, Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak.
Four years later came the college classic, Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar, followed by the Kramer Vs Kramer take, Akele Hum Akele Tum.
Aamir chose not to do Mansoor's Josh, following which the latter hasn't directed a film. Recently, however, he came out of semi-retirement to produce Jaane Tu... Ya Jaane Na with Aamir.
Image: Mansoor Khan and Aamir Khan
Subhash Ghai - Jackie Shroff
The showman director gave Shroff his first big break with 1983's Hero, and since then the two have collaborated together many a time -- often alongside Ghai's other golden boy, Anil Kapoor.
Shroff starred in Karma, Ram Lakhan, Saudagar, Khalnayak and Yaadein, and remains a key part of Ghai's Mukta Arts stable, popping into productions whenever the hat-wearing filmmaker calls on him.
Image: Subhash Ghai and Jackie Shroff
Manmohan Desai - Amitabh Bachchan
Indian cinema's big entertainer, Desai made Amitabh a legend with massive hits like Amar Akbar Anthony, Naseeb and Coolie, among several others.
The formula-defining director was all about sending audiences home happy, and tapped into Bachchan's natural comic gifts and his fabulous spontaneity. Hooked onto the Big B, Desai worked with Bachchan right upto his last film.
Image: Inset: Manmohan Desai and Amitabh Bachchan
Prakash Mehra - Amitabh Bachchan
If Desai explored Bachchan's crowdpleasing potential, Mehra found the actor's intensity.
Singlehandedly responsible for creating Bachchan's Angry Young Man persona with films like Zanjeer, Laawaris and Muqaddar Ka Sikandar, Mehra played off Amitabh's fiery screen presence to give the masses a hero like no other.
Image: Amitabh Bachchan. Inset: Prakash Mehra