The Hangal Game

Hollywood star Kevin Bacon has claimed that he has worked with every major star in Hollywood. Now, some philanthropic souls have made a game out of it. They try to connect every Hollywood star with any other through commonly acted films. The idea is that if Bacon’s claim has to stand, he will be the link between everybody. Of course, the claim is a wild exaggeration though he has indeed acted with a very wide variety of co-stars.

Essentially, it is figuring out the Degree of Separation between film stars, where the link is not just any connection but the films they have acted together in.

Nilendu and I chatted about this game and tried adapting it to Bollywood.

As you can see, both of us are serious professionals working in IT and Marketing, always discussing best practices from around the globe and making them relevant to the Indian context!

We realized a few things when we were discussing the game.

Character actors like A K Hangal, Iftekhar, Anupam Kher, Kader Khan and the like are the Kevin Bacons in the Indian scene. Between them, they have been around for huge periods of time and have acted with the entire gamut of stars, starlets and enthu cutlets.

Game Tip: Durable character artistes have the potential to reduce the Degree of Separation big time.

In fact, we have named the Indian version The Hangal Game, after our favourite and India’s most durable character artiste – A K Hangal. One observation about the great man is that he still looks and acts exactly the same as he did in his first film!

We also realized that it is pretty much impossible to get a Hangal Score beyond 4, leave alone 6!

Let me show you.

Starting with a simple one: Dilip Kumar and Abhishek Bachchan.

Dilip Kumar and Amitabh Bachchan acted together in Shakti. Amitabh and Abhishek Bachchan acted together in Sarkar (and many others). So, their degree of separation (Hangal Score) is 2, since you can connect them in 2 movies.

Next one: Neetu Singh and Preity Zinta.

Neetu Singh + Amitabh Bachchan = Yaarana. Amitabh + Abhishek Bachchan = Sarkar. Abhishek + Preity = Jhoom Barabar Jhoom. Hangal Score = 3.

Question: Can we lower the Hangal score? For that, we need to find a guy who has acted with both Neetu Singh and Preity Zinta. Who is that guy? Who else but the Big B.

Yaarana. Amitabh + Preity = The Last Lear. So, Hangal Score can be brought down to 2.

Third one: Guru Dutt and Ranbir Kapoor.

Guru Dutt + Waheeda Rehman = Pyaasa. Waheeda + Amitabh = Trishul. Amitabh + Deepika Padukone = Om Shanti Om. I admit this is a little sly because AB only had a guest appearance in the film. Deepika + Ranbir = Bachna Ae Haseeno. Hangal Score = 4.

Can we reduce? Of course, we can!

Pyaasa. Waheeda + Sonam Kapoor = Delhi 6. Sonam + Ranbir = Saawariya. HS = 3!

The other ones that we discussed were as follows:

Navin Nischol and Dino Morea.

In a moment of inspired genius, Nilendu came up with – Navin Nischol + Anupam Kher = Khosla Ka Ghosla. Anupam Kher + Dino Morea = Dus Kahaniyan. Hangal Score = 2.

Game Tip: Multi-story – multi-starrer – films like Life In A Metro, Dus Kahaniyan, and Darna Manaa Hai go a long way in squeezing the Hangal Score.

Sachin and Tusshar Kapoor.

Again, we got it in 2. Sachin + Amitabh = Sholay. Amitabh + Tusshar Kapoor = Khakee.

The game play rules are simple.

Long Version (Solo Player): Player tries to think up star pairs with the highest Hangal Score. This version needs a gaming group to compare scores and exchange notes.

Short Version (Multi-player): Player A gives Player B a star pair. Player B names the linking films and gets a Hangal Score. If Player A gets a lower score (thanks to an obscure link up his sleeve), he gets a point. Else, Player B gets the point. A timing element can be introduced to entertain the T20 addicts.

What we love about this game is that not only does one need a decent knowledge of Bollywood, one needs to scan the memory fast enough to bring about the connections.

And the game can be made easy or difficult by including clauses like guest appearances allowed / not allowed, co-stars mean being in the same film / same scene and so on. We can even be very star struck and refuse to admit character artistes in the connections but then, what is Hindi cinema without Guddi Maruti, Laxmikant Berde and Satyen Kappu?

In fact, we were thinking of announcing a prize for getting a Hangal Score of 5 or 6. But then, a drinking session at Olypub with us followed by Chelo Kababs at Peter Cat does not really qualify as a prize!

Don’t let that dampen you, though!

Think of the oddest pair of stars… or stars who have never acted with Hangal!

Game Tip: Think of present day debutants (few number of films) and pair them with stars from as far back as you can!

Baithe baithe kya karenge? Karna hain kuch kaam –

Aao kheley Hangal Game, le kar Kappu ke naam!


Rimi said…
Balraj Sahni and Abhijeet Sawant. Try that, and no Om Shanti Om AB-Deepika style sneakiness!
Balraj Sahni + Shashi Kapoor = Waqt.
Shashi + Naseeruddin Shah = Junoon.
Naseer + Mukesh Tiwari = China Gate.
Mukesh Tiwari + Abhijeet Sawant = Lottery.

@ Rimi: This is TOTAL sneakiness. Even I had to Google Lottery for its stars and came up with Mukesh Tiwari. Lottery did not even release outside Abhijeet Sawant's house!
bricks said…
Kunal Khemu and Kishore Kumar
Kunal Khemu + Aamir Khan = Hum Hain Raahi Pyaar Ke.
Aamir Khan + Sunil Dutt = Parampara.
Sunil Dutt + Kishore Kumar = Padosan.
Anamika said…
Ask us to think about some odd pairs. This is fun. And in the meantime...

Karan (Bombay Dyeing) Kapoor and Chunky Pandey
Nilendu said…
Last one was easy. Karan Kapoor-Kimi Katkar in "Zalzala"; Kimi-Chunky Pandey - every movie other than "Tarzan" and "Hum" ;)
Nilendu said…
Let's go thematic - singer kids --

Amit Kumar / Neil Nitin Mukesh
Nilendu said…
Or, Industry kids (this one is easy)-

How about the rule is modified for these two -- no opposite sex link of the chain.

1) Armaan Kohli - Uday Chopra
2) Rajeev Kapoor - Kamal Sadanah
3) Suneil Anand - Kunal Goswami
4) Meenakshi Shirodkar (Namrata's grandmom) - Tanisha Mukherjee
5) Asmit Patel - Adhyayan Suman
Unknown said…
Naseem Banu and Faraaz Khan.....try that!
Nilendu said…
Naseem Banu - Raaj Kumar -> Pakeezah
Raaj Kumar - Naseeruddin Shah --> Police Public
Naseeruddin - Kunika --> Takkar
Kunika - Faraaz Khan --> Fareb
Nilendu said…
OK -- I lost a point. Naseem Banu - Faraaz Khan should be no more than 3 degrees separated. Here's how --

1) Nassem Banu / Raaj Kumar --> Pakeezah

2) Raaj Kumar / Govinda --> Marte Dam Tak

3) Govinda / Faraaz Khan --> Dil Ne Phir Yaad Kiya

Trying to get it to 2.
Amit Kumar / NN Mukesh: 3.
Amit Kumar + Ashok Kumar = Badhti ka naam dadhi.
Ashok Kumar + Dharmendra = Bandini.
Dharmendra + NNM = Johnny Gaddaar.

Armaan Kohli / Uday Chopra: 2.
Armaan Kohli + Amrish Puri = Jaani Dushman, Ek Anokhi Kahaani.
Amrish Puri + Uday Chopra = Mohabbatein.

Rajeev Kapoor / Kamal Sadanah: 3
Rajeev Kapoor + Raza Murad = RTGM.
Raza Murad + Om Puri = Gupt.
Om Puri + Kamal Sadanah = Victoria No. 203.

Suneil Anand / Kunal Goswami: 2
Suneil + Rakesh Bedi = Anand aur Anand.
Rakesh Bedi + Kunal = Kalakaar.
I got it in 3 initially. Then, checked IMDb for the 2!

Ashmit Patel / Adhyayan Suman: 2
Ashmit Patel + Emraan Hashmi = Murder.
Emraan + Adhyayan = Raaz 2.
This was apparently difficult but quite easy in the end!
bricks said…
This is an addictive game.
Kunal Goswami + Sachin Khedekar
Rimi said…
What can I say, I like being sneaky. This is a super-awesome game, however. Well done, Dipta and Nilendu! :-)
Kunal Goswami / Sachin Khedekar: 3.
Kumal Goswami + Sridevi = Kalakaar.
Sridevi + Amitabh = Khada Gawah.
Amitabh + Sachin Khadekar = Viruddh.
But I am quite sure that this can be done in 2.
Bit Hawk said…
Hahaha...very interesting game!
Was playing this yesterday - linking Prithviraj Kapoor and Emraan Hashmi :))
Shashank said…
But unless you have veered off from the original version of the Kevin Bacon game, the Hangal game would have to include Hangal himself in each of the links.

That is what the six degrees of Kevin Bacon does: link Kevin Bacon to all the others.
Sanjay GT said…
Dipta, you deserve a Nobel Prize for this post (which category, I wonder)?

Anyway, here's my shot:
V Shantaram and Bipasha Basu. First person to shoot less than 5 gets a beer...
Unknown said…
Here is the answer:
V Shantaram/Bipasha Basu=

V Shantaram/ Sandhya: Do ankhe Bara haat
Sandhya/Gopi Krishna: Jhanak Jhanak Payel Baaje
Gopi Krishna/Jeetendra: Kinara
Jeetendra/Bipasha Basu: Om Shanti Om.....

Trying to get down the score at 3
shampa said…
V Shantaram/Rajshree: Stree
Rajshree/Jeetendra: Geet gaya patharon nen
Jeetendra/Bipasha: Om Shanti Om
shampa said…
Kunal Goswami / Sachin Khedekar
This can be brought down to 2.

Kunal Goswami-Anant Mahadevan: Vishkanya
Anant Mahadevan-Sachin Khedekar: Aap Ka Suroor
@ Shampa: *bows till nose touches ground*

Sheer genius!
Nilendu said…
Kunal Goswami - Anant Mahadevan -> Vishkanya. When I write my "Best of 2009" -- this gets a shining mention there. Brilliant!
Alok Sharma said…
not taking into account OSO... 'coz that movie just about connected all Bolly stars!

V Shantaram- Bipasha Basu : HS-3!

V Shantaram & Sandhya Shantaram- Do Aankhen Barah Haath

Sandhya Shantaram & Dina Pathak- Jal Bin Machhli Nritya Bin Bijli

Dina Pathak & Bipasha Basu- Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai !!!