Magazine

Cinema - Generation Next Superstar!

Ranbir Kapoor. Photo: AFP

Ranbir Kapoor. Photo: AFP  

That “Rockstar” will go down in the annals of Bollywood as a cult classic is a given, irrespective of how much money it finally makes at the box office. There could also be no second opinion about the fact Ranbir Kapoor has arrived as the next superstar with this film. Rarely do a film and its lead actor amalgamate as well as they have done in this one. The question whether this film could have been made with any other actor is as rhetorical as asking whether a “Deewar” would have worked without Amitabh Bachchan or any other actor apart from Shah Rukh Khan could have brought in the raw energy “Baazigar” demanded.

The mixed reactions to the film are understandable. Audiences seem to either love or hate it. No one has a middling opinion about this modern day retelling of the epic love story “Heer Ranjha” that has seen previous celluloid versions. Auteur Imtiaz Ali mounts his adaptation on an unusual platform. His Ranjha may belong to a Jat household and get bullied by his older brothers like his legendary counterpart, but his concerns are all contemporary like how to woo the coolest babe in the campus with his awkward gait.

Pitch-perfect portrayal

The references to the original crop up in the subtext of almost every scene that plays out on screen and yet Ali manages to vest the film with a startling originality. Much of this novelty has to do with the way Kapoor interprets his role. There is something magical about the way he works the transformation from the naive and stupid wannabe to a star, who has everything he had aspired for but cannot rid himself of the gnawing pain of heartbreak. It is a phenomenal performance from the young actor, raw as well as crafted, arising as much from the gut as from the head. Kapoor is pitch-perfect in his portrayal of the anguished soul.

His growth as an actor and the accompanying stardom should come as no surprise. They say children own up to the disowned parts of their parents. Kapoor's parents, Rishi and Neetu Kapoor never got the due they deserved as actors or as stars. Both of them were absolute naturals in front of the camera but dwarfed by bigger stars of their generation who may not have been as talented but could lend more charisma to the screen.

Ranbir Kapoor has abundant reserves of both. The genes may have been inherited but his choice of films display a rare acumen. “Rockstar” may be the film to propel him into superstardom but he had already demonstrated his range in the way he picks on delicate nuances to separate his portrayal of a conscientious “Rocket Singh” from a spoilt “Sid”.

It is in negotiating this range that his closest competitors are found wanting. Shahid Kapoor has been waiting in the wings for a long time for the magic of superstardom to happen to him. The reason why it has been so elusive is because he tries so hard. In this respect he is a bit like Hrithik Roshan who displays occasional flashes of brilliance but for most parts goes overboard or hyperventilates. The other Kapoor has also not been very prudent with the roles he chose early in his career. Maybe he didn't have the option of saying no at that time. But that he is not destiny's favourite child is demonstrated by the way he has been let down by his recent release “Mausam”. A venture helmed by his father for which Kapoor invested a couple of years, putting other projects on the backburner. The film copped out after a charming first half and Kapoor has to reinvent the wheel for himself all over again.

Shahid's trials

Shahid Kapoor is no stranger to sudden devastating setbacks. Being ditched publicly by a high profile girlfriend who is a bigger star than him had its own kind of ramifications. The young actor has been trying very hard to reinvent himself as a rake in his personal life but that has not paid off in the professional front. He needs to get back to a Vishal Bhardwaj or an Imtiaz Ali to resurrect himself as an actor and a star.

Imran Khan is also a contender. Or at least the publicity machinery around him seems to indicate that. We don't know how serious either acting or stardom is important for the young Khan. Despite his boy next door charm, there is something unconvincing about him even though none of the films he has acted in has made demands on him to be anything other than himself. His portrayals are curiously limp. He raises his brows, he rolls his eyes, he twitches his lips and ends up delivering performances that suffer in comparison to what his co stars bring to the film. Be it Genelia D'Souza in “Jaane Tu ya Jaane Na”, Vir Das and Kunal Roy Kapoor in “Delhi Belly” or Katrina Kaif in “Mere Brother Ki Dulhan”. All of them have managed to reduce Khan to be a part of the scenery whenever they have shared the same frame as him.

Ranveer Singh is the latest claimant to the throne. He brought a terrific physicality to his role in “Band Baaja Baarat” and got himself overnight stardom. He displays ample potential to be another Govinda but the dancing star always fell short of making it to the number one slot despite acting in a film called “Hero No 1”.

As of now, only Ranbir Kapoor seems to have leapfrogged into the next level. As for the rest, they have to wait for their Friday.

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Printable version | Aug 8, 2020 3:42:00 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/magazine/cinema-generation-next-superstar/article2662658.ece

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