What is life like behind the arclights? What compromises do women make in their journey to stardom? Do the glitz and glamour come for a price? From Shyam Benegal to Milan Luthria, filmmakers down the decades have tried giving insights to the questions asked by obsessive fans.
It's a recurring trend with forthcoming movies like "Heroine" and "Raaz 3" delving into the same theme. Some are biographical, some fiction and others thinly veiled fiction.
Luthria's "The Dirty Picture" portrayed the darker side of filmdom to much success. From her meteoric rise to her gradual downfall, from her financial crunch to personal dilemma, the film captured the bright and dark moments in southern sex symbol Silk Smitha's life.
Now all eyes are on Madhur Bhandarkar's much-anticipated "Heroine", about the rise and fall of an actress called Mahi Arora, played by Kareena yo
Releasing Sept 21, the drama is a mix of fiction and reality and expectations are high.
Bhandarkar told IANS that "Heroine" is basically a journey of an actress in the contemporary world.
"It's going to portray how an actress reaches the top and how her life goes through ups and downs. A lot of catharsis and trauma is shown in the film.
"The movie is about Mahi (Kareena) and her journey towards stardom... I am not saying it is not inspired by Hollywood or Bollywood; there is inspiration. I would say that 70 percent of it is realistic and 30 percent fiction," he added.
Devika Rani, Madhubala, Rekha, Hema Malini, Madhuri Dixit, Aishwarya Rai... actresses in every era have evoked a great deal of curiosity among fans who are eager to know about their likes and dislikes, food habits, strengths and weaknesses.
Filmmakers have long tried to cash in on that curiosity, of projecting the real life that is so often an antithesis to the screen persona.
If Subodh Mukherjee tried to do it with 1970 release "Abhinetri", Benegal did it with his 1977 offbeat movie "Bhumika", based on the life of 1940s actress Hansa Wadkar. Even Guru Dutt gave an insight into the often tragic compromises that women in showbiz have to make in his classic "Kaagaz Ke Phool".
In 2007, Farah Khan's "Om Shanti Om" showed the dreamy eyed fascination of a fan for his heroine, while Zoya Akhtar's 2009 directorial debut "Luck By Chance" depicted the inside story of Bollywood on-screen.
Mahesh Bhatt portrayed late actress Parveen Babi's tragic end in 2006 movie "Woh Lamhe".
A sequel to 2009 film "Raaz - The Mystery Continue", "Raaz 3" revolves around the life of a film director and two actresses.
Said Bipasha Basu, who plays one of the actresses: "We all go through a struggle but we choose not to show it. But it is very important to address it at times and connect. This is why I agreed to do this character."
Producer Mahesh Bhatt described it as a cocktail of three true stories.
"One is about Shagufta, who has observed how people indulge in black magic to enhance their career. I know it sounds bizarre, but that's the truth."
"Bipasha was in a stage in her real life where she was heartbroken and her career was declining to ground zero. With the landscape filled with new heroines, she had a terrible phase," he said, adding that Vikram Bhatt also was in a similar situation when one of his girlfriends broke his heart.
(Nivedita can be contacted at [email protected])