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And the contenders are...
Ranbir Kapoor's recent unerring blockbuster instinct is most unsettling for the current generation of superstars (all of whom are 40+ ) — the Khan trio, Akshay Kumar and Ajay Devgn. "I am not insecure", "There is enough room at the top for everyone" and "I am my own competition" are film industry homilies that they should now be practising in front of a mirror. But Ranbir Kapoor's real competition comes from a slew of actors closer to his age. Kalpana Nair takes a look at who amongst the new order comes closest to putting up a fight...
Onscreen | With his first film receding from public memory, and the second one (Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl) underperforming, Ranveer Singh has something to prove with Vikramaditya Motwane’s period love story Lootera. That he is not a flash-in-the-pan. Playing a man of few words, against his natural personality type this could be the role that shows us a new side to the actor that is far removed from Bittoo and bread pakoras.
Next up is Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Ram Leela where he plays Romeo and which should take him to heartthrob territory and the Yash Raj Films bannered Gunday where he is one half of a duo of petty thieves. Ranveer possesses a natural conviction for playing rougher and earthier characters which Ranbir would find hard to pull off making him his closest rival.
Offscreen | Prone to being brash with an infectious enthusiasm as opposed to Ranbir who comes off as an ultra-meditative and chilled out young monk. But like Ranbir, Ranveer is a hit with the ladies and (reportedly) very good at charming their pants off and being in the news. Without industry connections, Ranveer also has the ‘self-made outsider tag’ working for him.
Onscreen | He made his debut within months of Ranbir with JaaneTu…YaJaane Na. Saawariya was a disaster at the box-office and for a while their rivalry was neck-to-neck. However with time, the impression has faded a little. With the exception of Delhi Belly and maybe Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu, Imran’s choice of films have been either safe (I Hate Luv Storys) or bad (recently with Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola). Is attempting to shake off his ‘romantic hero’ tag with Once Upon a Time in Mumbai 2 next.
Offscreen | Has considerable metrosexuality street cred and displays a sense of individuality in fashion that is absent in his acting. Is refreshingly articulate and forward thinking and has come out in support of a roster of youth issues. Also happily married with zero instances of tabloid dirt making any appearance on his resume.
Onscreen | Critics have run out adjectives to describe Siddiqui’s flood of roles in the last year. There is no parallel acting talent in sight and Ranbir Kapoor’s favourite performance last year was Siddiqui’s Faisal Khan in Gangs of Wasseypur 1 & 2. But so far he’s been sticking to alternative cinema or minor roles in mainstream films. His attempt at a more accessible Aatma, did not work. Siddiqui may not be a direct replacement for Ranbir’s slot but his sheer force of onscreen magic makes him very hard to ignore.
Offscreen | Is painfully shy and reticent which poses a bit of a hurdle in Bollywood where being media savvy can sometimes unfortunately be a substitute for talent. But he is the real underdog who worked his way up struggling painfully for years which lends his journey a unique poignancy and depth.
Onscreen | Positioned midway between the old gen and new gen is Emraan Hashmi who suddenly became an interesting actor making interesting choices last year with Shanghai. Balancing his mass appeal with run of the mill roles, (Jannat 2), Hashmi’s recent box-office record has been patchy but he has been crossing genres expertly with horror (Ek Thi Daayan) and his next Ghanchakkar, a whacked out comedy. Coming up is an international project with Oscar winner Danis Tanovic and Rensil D’Silva’s Ungli.
Offscreen | Is a producer’s actor known for punctuality. Happily married and keeps his personal life away from the media glare.
Onscreen | Is going through a lengthy rough patch after spending two years making Mausam and attempting a mini comeback of sorts with Rajkumar Santoshi’s Phata Poster Nikla Hero and Prabhu Deva’s Rambo Rajkumar. But as Kaminey showed, when Shahid is good, he is very good so it’s too soon to write him off as competition.
Offscreen | Has a long history of throwing tantrums and script interference which may have precipitated the rough patch.
Onscreen | Made a much-acclaimed debut in Habib Faisal’s Ishaqzaade playing a hard to love Parma. His next Aurangzeb flopped and Arjun now has Gunday coming up with Ranveer Singh, Two States opposite Alia Bhatt and the Hindi remake of Okkadu. Kapoor has a wicked streak usually running in his characters and is an interesting actor to watch out for. He is working with newer, less-established directors and might also be a long race horse like chacha, Anil Kapoor.
Offscreen | Doesn’t do a lot of press and is usually in the news for party brawls and link-ups. Like most second gen actors born into priviledge (Kareena Kapoor, Sonam Kapoor, Sonakshi Sinha, Alia Bhatt) Kapoor was an overweight child who hit the gym when he got serious about being a leading man. It’s a narrative that makes him endearing and relatable but he will need to move on if he wants to transition into full blown Bollywood macho adulthood.
Sushant Singh Rajput
Onscreen | The role of Ishaan in Kai Po Che is as unconventional as that of Barfi!. Ishaan is not a solo lead, has no love interest and dies in the end. But Rajput, best known as Manav from the TV serial Pavitra Rishta, threw caution to the wind and played it with dedication and screen presence, working his cricket skills till he was totally believable as a burnt out cricketing prodigy. Rajput is the only actor from his peers working with Rajkumar Hirani in P.K.
Offscreen | Comes across as earnest, focussed and in a steady relationship with Ankita Lokhande. Not part of the Ranveer-Ranbir-Arjun bratpack and is seldom seen at parties, which may not be a bad thing in the long run.
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