When One Genre Isn’t Enough

Suma Nagaraj

Hollywood, when not churning out its staple romance, usually sticks to the tried and tested ribald comedy (aimed at mostly men who refuse to grow up), mindless action flick (ditto), tearjerker drama/chick flicks (women - of all kinds) or animated adventures for the ageless. But the nineties brought with it a wave of starlets from TV who were looking for their big break on celluloid and what followed was a genre that brought in women in droves and with them, their hapless dates, who in order to keep the "romance" alive in the relationship, tagged along meekly to see mild to offensive comedy swathed in huge layers of feel-good romance and tied up with a big pink bow of a happy ending - leading to the birth of the first mixed genre, the romcom, in contemporary Hollywood.

Hollywood then started experimenting with mixing certain genres to appeal to a larger demographic, or a mix of two or more. Some stars became synonymous with the mixed genres, some genres defined the career graph of others, but for the most part, Hollywood went laughing to the banks. Here's a look at some of the mixed genres and the Hollywood stars that define them, as Real Steel, the Reliance-produced, Hugh Jackman-starring sci-fi/action movie gets ready to release:

Romcom - Jennifer Aniston. In one of the smoothest ever transitions from TV to cinema, Jennifer, TV's most loved friend, went on to lead the romcom brigade. Most mainstream leading ladies of Hollywood, some of them Oscar-winners, have dabbled with one or two romcoms in their careers, mostly to desired effect.

Action-Comedy - Jackie Chan. Ably supported by either smart alecks like Owen Wilson or motormouths like Chris Tucker, or all by himself, Jackie Chan gave this mixed genre its pride of place in the land of cinema. Packed with action sequences that left viewers agape and comedy that had the hall in splits, this genre continues to be popular even today.

Dramedy - Kevin Spacey. The slightly balding, middle-aged man with a droll sense of humour in American Beauty paved the way for many average-looking leading men who could carve a path in Hollywood that was the envy of all the poster boys in tinsel town.

Horror-Thriller - Manoj Night Shyamalan. Probably India's most talked about export (his Indianness being only his origins), and heavily criticised after his first two films, Shyamalan redefined the horror genre, using sound effects, sinister music and the audience's anticipation of/reaction to horror to good effect instead of resorting to the age-old tricks of gore and blood.

Fantasy-Romance - Robert Pattinson. Surging hormones, rose-tinted glasses and fairytale romances got a new lease of life with the love story of the golden-hearted vampire Edward Cullen and his mortal lady love Bella. 3 billion hearts (assuming half the world's population is under 16) beat in tandem and an equal number of voices sighed in absolute rapture to the movie adaptation of Stephenie Myers' vampire-romance franchise, Twilight. (Much to my chagrin, they continue to do so.)

Erotic Thriller - Sharon Stone. Many of the world's hottest women tried to make this genre their own, but even those who paid respects at the shrine of Sharon Stone failed miserably. There could be no follow-up act to the infamous "commando" scene of Basic Instincts. The blink-and-miss peep at Sharon Stone's unclad nether regions in the movie that could be blamed for being the starting point of global warming remains a cult favourite, almost two decades after the movie first hit this world in its gut.

Sci fi-Comedy - Michael Bay. He might be accused of not growing out of his teens mentally, but let's not forget one thing - he gave the world Megan Fox. And the world hasn't been the same since.

Sci fi-Action - Hugh Jackman is poised to take a giant leap from his portrayal of Wolverine and star as a living, breathing man in Real Steel, albeit steering robots inside the boxing ring. Will his name become synonymous with this genre? Take a look at our exclusive on the upcoming movie.

Which other mixed genres do you think are synonymous with their stars?