Ranked in order of appearance.
As though Rockstar wasn’t enough, Ranbir is all set to steal maha-praise and fan-worship again for his mad skillz in the upcoming Barfi – if the trailer is anything to go by.
The movie is undoubtedly a risky proposition at the box office (it’s foolish to even peg films like this with the big money-spinners) but that’s precisely why I love Ranbir so much. Most of the choices he’s made haven’t been safe. He chooses roles based on what the film offers him as an actor – and with each film in the last 2 or 3 years, we’ve seen different shades of Ranbir, every performance bettering the last.
While it’s true that he has the luxury to be picky because of his surname, at least he doesn’t take the privilege lightly. It’s clear that he takes the acting craft seriously and is more focused on getting into the skin of characters and growing as an actor, than he is on being a star-hero.
He knows how to strategize his career, has his pulse on the tastes of his generation and doesn’t make the mistake of trying to compete with the 100 crore Khans, Kumars and Devgns at this stage of the game. Instead, he’s quietly carving out a niche for himself – deliberately and carefully, much like Aamir did during the second phase of his career.
Ranbir is everything a nextgen star should be – charisma plus craft. What sets him apart from his contemporaries is that he is popular across all pockets of fandom – from gaga girls to film snobs and casual fans alike. There is no question that he is leagues ahead of his contemporaries, both in terms of popularity and in terms of strategy.
Oh Imran. I know he’s trying. I’ll give him that. But for me, Imran is the polar opposite of Ranbir in that he neither has a natural flair for charisma (quite laughable actually) and neither has he grown much in his acting capacities. I feel like I’ve seen more or less the same Imran since Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na, and sometimes I can’t tell the difference between Imran on-screen and Imran off-screen. It all seems like the same guy to me.
It’s also clear that he’s desperately trying to break out of this undefinable, milquetoasty one-note act by signing films with “off-beat” directors that are so out of his comfort zone that it can only go one of two ways – crash & burn, or emerge & shine. Time will tell how he does with Once Upon A Time In Mumbai Again (title-groan), Vishal Bhardwaj’s Matru Bijlee Ki Mandola and Tigmanshu Dhulia’s Milan Talkies.
I’m all set to have my mind blown. But it will take some serious digging on Imran’s part to eke out some intensity and power from his screen presence.
While Ranbir took his sweet time and finally arrived with Rockstar, and I’m still waiting for Imran to arrive anywhere at all, there’s no question that Ranveer arrived with a pataka-bang with his very first film Band Baaja Baarat. Immediately hailed as the next SRK, Ranveer was the first star I’d seen in a long time who really did explode off the screen.
It was a kind of energy that had almost become extinct. The debutantes before him were so very immaculately groomed and highly self-conscious about themselves. Ranveer was fresh, uninhibited and alive with sparkling energy.
Of course, all this resulted in so much positive press that some of it went to his head – a fact that he noted quickly and corrected. You can’t fault this new lot for not being self-aware. But no matter how flashy your arrival, the true test begins only after your first hit because that’s when you have to set about actually building a career and more importantly a loyal fan following.
His second release, Ladies Vs. Ricky Bahl was highly anticipated but met with a lukewarm response at the box office. Say thanks to the YRF formula-making machine for that, Ranveer.
But I’m not worried about Ranveer’s hits and misses. No matter what the fate of his next few films, I think Ranveer’s presence and energy are so electrifying – he was so born to do this – that it’ll sustain him through the first few rocky years of trying to settle into the industry and find his niche.
If Ranbir smoulders, then Ranveer blazes high and loud. Both have loads of that indefinable It factor. Ranbir has figured out how to make the most of his – Ranveer, I think, is still in the process of figuring it out.
Like Ranveer, Ayushman’s first big-screen offering also took the industry by storm. Though he was already an immensely popular TV host on MTV and other channels, he literally stole everyone’s heart in the instantly lovable Vicky Donor. Despite his many talents though, I’m cautious about Ayushmann’s place in big bad Bollywood.
Though he was perfectly cast in Vicky Donor and sings like a dream, I’m having a tough time imagining him in a huge variety of roles. My feeling is that he will be the top pick for smaller, urban-independent films with crackling scripts – like Vicky and that frankly, might be the kind of film he’s best suited for.
In other words, he’s totally tracking Abhay Deol territory (Team Dimples FTW!) and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Despite the hype around the 100 crore club, there’s no question that there’s also a profitable market for character-driven films.
And anyway, if films don’t work out, there’s always music. He’s too adorable to go to waste.
Arjun is so uncannily reminiscent of Abhishek Bachchan on-screen that it’s hard to pinpoint anything about him that’s very unique. (Yes, I FINALLY got around to watching Ishaqzaade – what a nutty film, review coming soon!)
He’s got the same rugged-urban charm (but scores much higher on sex appeal) and what’s more, I wonder if he might face the same sort of up and down challenges that Abhi’s faced in his career. Because Arjun is good, no doubt. But he’s not special.
There’s nothing standout about him. He doesn’t have Ranveer’s fire and flamboyance or Imran’s cuteness – nothing to really make him mark you out as your favorite. Because he’s an industry kid (he is, of course, Boney Kapoor’s son) the hunger and drive that can be seen in Ayushmann & Ranveer are missing. There is a danger of complacency with him.
Of course, it’s premature to judge. There’s Aurangzeb with YRF and Two States with Dharma on his plate and Arjun is one of the few guys in this lot (along with Ranveer) who can pull off an action-masala hero, say with a Rohit Shetty or someone – right off the bat. If he wants to milk the herogiri thing he can, he’s perfectly suited for it.
It’ll be interesting to see what he chooses. But that’s just it – from his interviews, one can’t really get a sense of what his tastes, preferences or strategies are. Seems like he’s kind of just winging it and happy to be working.
Sushant Singh Rajput
If there’s anyone Arjun is likely to be pitted against most often in years to come, it just might be this guy.
It’s rare to see a newcomer (who isn’t a star son) generate so much buzz before his film has even released, but all eyes are on Sushant Singh Rajput. We’ll see him featured in Abhishek Kapoor’s Kai Po Che, a film that is already hot property simply because we’ve been anxiously awaiting the Rock On director’s next film for years now.
The bigger news is that Aditya Chopra wanted to sign Sushant for one of YRF’s infamous 3-film contracts – the most coveted prize in any young actor’s wishlist. I dunno, maybe it’s a good thing that his stint with UTV (who is producing Kai Po Che) didn’t allow him to sign outside contracts. He might get to do more interesting films now.
In the ginormously popular TV serial Pavitra Rishta (which I was an unabashedly guilty consumer of) he was likable enough, but it seems the industry really started buzzing because of his performances on various dance shows, starting with last year’s Jhalak Dikhla Ja. And gotta say, dude is pretty impressive. Has a killer smile and emotes incredibly well. See for yourself!
That’s not a bad little brat pack, is it? I say that should tide us over while we wait for Aryan Khan to grow up.