The other day, over our morning cup of tea, my colleague and I were debating as to who has done more varied roles in his career. Abhay Deol or Ranbir Kapoor.
While my friend, like every other girl in the country, swooned over the dimpled Deol and declared that he has done a wide variety of roles in a very short span, I argued that Ranbir would win in this ‘category’ hands down.
The Kapoor lad could have chosen an easy route. Thanks to his illustrious last name, which the industry still swears by, he could have easily been the poster boy and done some hard core commercial potboilers and secured his spot at the top.
But here is a man, who from the very beginning chose unconventional, <i>hatke</i> films and has slowly, stealthily grown on audience, much like his recent film ‘Barfi!”.
When he first came on the silver screen in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s abnormally slow and somewhat vague ‘Sawariyaa’, I disliked him. In fact, I had labelled him as just another star son who would do a couple of films and fade away from public memory soon enough. His towel act was laughed at, spoofed and ridiculed, the film was panned, but Ranbir managed to shine on.
Next came a somewhat interesting yet clichéd film, ‘Bachna Ae Haseeno’ where he played, to-put-it-mildly, a rascal who broke hearts of <i>haseenas</i>. The film was light and breezy, but I was still adamant about my theory and decided to not like him. There is nothing extraordinary about him, I argued with some already ardent fans of RK back then.
But he bowled me over with ‘Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year’. A film, which had him playing a smart alec Sikh, had such a unique storyline that it failed to impress the masses. It was also one of the biggest risks that a newcomer could have taken in the films, especially for someone who was being scrutinised and who critics were eagerly waiting to write off as just another star kid with no talent.
But talent seem to be there in abundance in this actor. Coupled with some very smart and intelligent choices that he has made very early in his career, Ranbir has done very selective films and has been able to achieve a very unique feat which none of the Khans have till date been able to. Ranbir has actually done very different kind of films and some extremely varied roles in a short span.
Abhay Deol may have done some very interesting roles, but his films have mostly been for a select audience, barring one or two. No doubt this Deol is very talented and has managed to carve a niche of his own which is diametrically opposite to the kind of films his family members are associated with. But Ranbir has managed to do the same in the realm of commercial cinema.
Ranbir’s palate of films is very varied and yet it cannot be bracketed as art house or multiplex cinema which Abhay has somewhat become a poster boy of.
I personally had reservations about ‘Rockstar’ which was a shining glory in Ranbir’s filmography till Barfi came about. But Ranbir’s performance as a confused lovelorn singer was flawless. Being a South Mumbai rich brat, it perhaps wasn’t easy to don the character of Janardan Jakha, a Haryanvi from the bylanes of old Delhi.
With Barfi, Ranbir has reiterated the fact that no one in the current lot can be as versatile as him. The man takes up the role of the happy-go-lucky Barfi’s so effortlessly that in spite of his handicap, you smile with him instead of feeling sympathetic. The role wasn’t an easy one and could have easily gone over the top with his deaf and mute act, but the actor made him appear like a normal goofy guy who loves life.
He chooses his scripts well. From a manipulative scion of a political family in ‘Rajneeti’, to a mindless good for nothing fella in ‘Ajab Prem Ki Gazab Kahani’, to the coming of age Sid in Wake Up Sid, each role has presented Ranbir the actor and not the star - a tag which traps many actors in the film industry from experimenting.
Surprisingly, in spite of so much of experimentation, Ranbir’s films work. They may not be getting in Rs 100 crores, but they do good business and filmmakers want to narrate stories to audience with Ranbir as their lead protagonist.
What is even more heartening to see is that in a country where 40 plus middle aged heroes rule the roost and still romance heroines half their age, 30-year-old Ranbir is being welcomed with open arms and not because of his family credentials but because of his talent. He may have had it easy to get a break in the big bad world of cinema initially due to his last name, but from there on he has tread on a path which is less travelled in Bollywood.
Now the big question is, will Ranbir Kapoor take over from the Khans? Will he be the next superstar? A reluctant or rather a convert fan like me would sure hope so. If his unconventional films and his unique performances can be lauded, then why can’t he also have the same sort of blind following like the Khans or a certain Mr Kumar has? Agreed, they have been in the industry for a longer time, but if we see Ranbir’s graph as an actor, he is definitely moving fast ahead to secure his place in the super league.
And till that happens, let Ranbir charm us, surprise us and entertain us with every film of his.