Walking, on a serene afternoon, at Bandra’s lively Bandstand, chances are that you will miss the 19 small tile blocks along the promenade. Look closer and you will see the hand impressions and signatures of Bollywood stars imprinted on the tiles. Reminiscent of the Hollywood Walk of Fame, this is India’s own “Walk of the Stars”.
The Kapoor family is present here in good measure. There are palm prints of Karisma Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor, Randhir Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Kapoor, besides those of Shabana Azmi, Sridevi, Sharmila Tagore and Anupam Kher. And, there are signatures of legends who once ruled the silver screen: Nargis, Sunil Dutt, Guru Dutt, Dev Anand, Shammi Kapoor, Prithviraj Kapoor, Raj Kapoor, Kishore Kumar, Ashok Kumar and Meena Kumari.
So far, the impressions of 19 stars have been imprinted on the tiles. Statues of Raj Kapoor and Shammi Kapoor are also slated to come up in a few days. The walk was thrown open on Wednesday as part of a UTV Stars brand initiative.
“This initiative is an extension of our channel’s tagline to bring viewers closer to their favourite stars,” says Nikhil Gandhi, business head, UTV Stars. Another 65 hand impressions will be added to the list, he adds. The aim is to put in place a total of 90 impressions, including signatures and hand impressions. Brass statues of legendary actors will also come up in the area.
Similar walks are also planned for Delhi, Dubai and London. Delhi, in fact, could have its “walk” by the end of 2012. Gandhi says the initiative could be seen as a starting point for the celebration of 100 years of Indian cinema in 2013. The first Indian feature film, Raja Harishchandra, was released almost a century ago, in 1913.
In Mumbai, other areas like Marine Drive and the Gateway of India were also considered for the walk but the honour went to Bandstand for its central location and because several film stars live in this area.
In afternoon and there are not many people at the Walk of the Stars. It is not half as glitzy as its Los Angeles counterpart. The Bollywood look and feel is missing. This staid tribute to an industry which has always been larger-than-life is easily missed by passersby. Security guards in charge of the area say that in the mornings it is only the residents and students from nearby colleges who come to take look at the starry signatures recorded here for posterity. But, they add, “we have hundreds of people coming in the evenings. Once this is properly advertised, people will throng this place.”
Anita Menon, a 56-year-old resident of Bandra West, says that she will start coming to the area for her morning walks more often. “I have been a big fan of Prithviraj Kapoor and it is an honour to have him imprinted on our Mumbai streets. I am looking forward to seeing other legends such as Manoj Kumar and Nadira,” she says.
Suraj Bhatia, a 19- year-old college student who is taking a picture of himself with Kareena Kapoor’s hand print, says the walk will help him score over his cousins in Bangalore. “I have always been teased for living in Mumbai and not meeting any Bollywood star. Now, I can proudly say that I have touched her palms,” says Bhatia with a blush.
Besides Raj and Shammi Kapoor, the 210 ft-long star walk will also see brass statues of stalwarts like Dev Anand, Dilip Kumar, Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan. The list of actors who will find a place here has been decided after consultation with critics, editors and other stalwarts of the industry.