‘Pick-Bait’: How Bollywood Magazines Wooed Readers to Pick Them Up

Before the dawn of the digital era, film glossies were the source of Bollywood news, gossip, posters and trivia. A whole generation of us grew up on magazines like Star & Style, Stardust, Filmfare, Cine Blitz, Movie and so on, which could be bought for just Rs 15 or borrowed from the local “lending library” in the 90s.

So, when you have 5 colourful Bollywood monthlies staring at you from your neighbourhood magazine stall, which one do you pick?

Just like websites today run content that’s clickbaity, these magazines put out stories that can be termed as ‘pick-baity’. Here’s a look at some of the stuff that I came across on a few old magazine covers via the internet. Some clever, some tacky and some totally crass - but all of them chuckle-worthy.

AIDS Scare In Bollywood!

(Photo courtesy: Google Archive)

Having Govinda and Karisma on the cover would ensure that this magazine sold like hot cakes in the 1990s. But, add to that a blind item on a “top actor” who’s a victim of AIDS, and you can bet that this issue must’ve been sold out.

“Salman Hit Me Because....”

(Photo courtesy: Google Archive)

“Sex, scandal..” screams the cover, “and Juhi Chawla” says the small print. Yawn! But what’s interesting is the second item. An interview with Somy Ali, where she apparently said, “Salman Hit Me Because He Cares.” OK!

Govinda’s Challenge to SRK

(Photo courtesy: Google Archive)

This 1993 issue of Movie magazine, raised eyebrows then because of Pooja Bhatt’s cover photo in body paint. It would raise eyebrows now for the article which says - Govinda’s open challenge “Let’s See How Long Shah Rukh and Ajay Will Last!”

The Million Dollar Question About Rajesh Khanna

(Photo courtesy: Google Archive)

The biggest question about Bollywood’s ‘original superstar’ after his skyrocketing success in the early 70s was - “Is Rajesh Khanna Married?”. Getting an exclusive Rajesh Khanna interview must have been next to impossible in 1971, so why not ask the million dollar question and still cash in?

The Rajesh-Dimple Divorce

(Photo courtesy: Google Archive)

Stardust usually carries more than a couple of eye-grabbing headlines on its cover. However, in 1980 when they claimed to have the “whole truth” about Rajesh Khanna and Dimple Kapadia’s divorce, the magazine didn’t need anything else.

Scoop of the Year!

(Photo courtesy: Google Archive)

Getting Dharmendra talking about Hema Malini was surely a scoop in 1978. Also, this cover photo must’ve made this Super issue a hot seller. Mind you, this was a couple of years before the two stars officially got married.

Dilip Kumar Married Again

(Photo courtesy: Google Archive)

Cine Blitz seems to have got it all covered when Dilip Kumar created a stir in 1982 by marrying a lady named Asma. The legendary actor had reportedly left his first wife, Saira Banu, for Asma and it was the biggest scandal to have hit Bollywood in quite a while. This magazine seems to have got exclusives with both Dilip (“I will never divorce Asma!”) and Saira (“I will not accept her!”) on the controversy, besides a third angle - and interview with Asma’s ex-husband!

Should Neetu Marry... WHO?

(Photo courtesy: Google Archive)

In 1974, six years before Rishi Kapoor married Neetu Singh, this magazine carried a cover piece asking if Neetu should marry underworld don Haji Mastan. WHY?

The Gulzar Listicle

(Photo courtesy: Google Archive)

Playboy bunny and then aspiring Bollywood actress, Katy Mirza, was a popular cover girl for film glossies in the 70s. But what’s interesting on this cover of Super’s Diwali issue is - “The Women Gulzar Used”. That would make for quite a controversial listicle today.

Rekha Did WHAT?

(Photo courtesy: Google Archive)

It’s Katy Mirza again, but what’s important is that this issue of Film Mirror has an article that states, “Rekha Tested and Tasted 4 Men”. And they call the present generation of publishers click-baiters.

Before Kiran Became Kirron

(Photo courtesy: Google Archive)

Apart from Jaya Prada making up with Sridevi and Naseeruddin Shah’s daughter being “discovered” what makes this cover interesting is that rare photograph of Anupam Kher and Kiran Thakur Singh before their wedding. A first interview with the Khers together, would’ve had huge interest because this was right after the release of Saaransh, which launched Anupam in Bollywood in 1984.

Soothsayer...Not Really

(Photo courtesy: Google Archive)

Surprising how this 1978 issue of Stardust got it so wrong. “Tomorrow Belongs To Them” promised the magazine, but only Mithun Chakraborty and Naseeruddin Shah managed to make a real dent from that collage of faces.

Raj Babbar’s Mystery Wife

(Photo courtesy: Google Archive)

Stardust introduced us to Nadira Babbar in 1981 with an exclusive that said, “Meet Mystery Wife Mrs Raj Babbar”. Mind you, Nadira was an accomplished theatre actor and gold medallist at the National School of Drama.

Satish Shah on the Centrefold

(Photo courtesy: Google Archive)

A candid cover photo of Hema Malini with her daughters and a scoop about “Amitabh’s Betrayal and Sunil Dutt’s Heroism” should have sufficed to sell this issue of Star & Style. What caught my eye was - the Satish Shah gatefold. Why would you have a Satish Shah centre spread? Must check on Satish Shah’s popularity ratings in 1986.

No More Women for Jeetendra

(Photo courtesy: Google Archive)

Jeetendra and his wife Shobha feature on this cover of Cine Blitz’s 1986 issue. “Confronted by Shobha, Jeetu Confesses: No More Women!”, says the headline. The 80s was indeed a far more simpler time.

Salman Khan’s First Magazine Cover?

(Photo courtesy: Google Archive)

Yes, there was a time when Amrita Singh could claim that she should be number one. Also interesting is the fact that this could probably be Salman’s first appearance on a film glossy’s cover. Remember, Salman’s debut was in Biwi Ho To Aisi, which released in August 1988 and this issue of Star & Style came a few months eariler.

Aamir Khan Is Declared “The Hottest Teenage Sensation”

(Photo courtesy: Google Archive)

A few months after the release of Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, this magazine decided that it’s time to announce Aamir Khan as “the hottest teenage sensation”.

Who’s Hot, Who’s Not

(Photo courtesy: Google Archive)

Movie magazine declared Sanjay Dutt and Jackie Shroff as “hot”, while Aamir, Salman Khan and Anil Kapoor made it to the “not” category (LOL!).

Amitabh Bachchan Is Finished!

(Photo courtesy: Google Archive)

Though not a film glossy, the popular Illustrated Weekly of India carried Bollywood cover stories from time to time. This 1989 issue declares that Amitabh Bachchan is finished after the superstar’s Gangaa Jamunaa Saraswathi, directed by Manmohan Desai, tanked at the box-office. Almost three decades later, the actor continues to hold the audience with films like Pink.

And now for some...

Cover Pics That Tried Too Hard

Rekha’s Die by Thai

(Photo courtesy: Google Archive)

Mithun & Kimi Get Gory

(Photo courtesy: Google Archive)

Copy the Cat

(Photo courtesy: Google Archive)

Rajesh Khanna, Tina Munim and... Money

(Photo courtesy: Google Archive)

“Rekha Exposed” Literally

(Photo courtesy: Google Archive)

Akshay Attacked and How

(Photo courtesy: Google Archive)

Kimi ‘Cat’kar

(Photo courtesy: Google Archive)

Mithun Chakraborty & Shabana Azmi Do the Disco, After the Yoga

(Photo courtesy: Google Archive)

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