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Generation Next: Ranbir, Imran, Ranveer, Ayushmann, Arjun & Sushant Singh Rajput

Ranked in order of appearance. :)

Ranbir Kapoor

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.

Imran Khan

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.

Ranveer Singh

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.

Ayushmann Khurrana

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 Kapoor

Courtesy Filmfare

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. ;)

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13 comments on “Generation Next: Ranbir, Imran, Ranveer, Ayushmann, Arjun & Sushant Singh Rajput

  1. I am a little unsure how I feel about the Barfi trailer – a little TOO derivative of both Amelie and APKGK to win me over, especially Ranbir’s performance in the trailer – VERY Happy club ka President it seemed to me. But I do like both those movies, and maybe Barfi won’t be quite as clone-ish as the trailer implies

    • Stuart,

      I liked the trailer – definitely has the Amelie vibe but will have to see the full movie to see what they did with it – aka just inspired or fultu copied. :p I was actually very impressed with Ranbir in this, feel like there might be more shades than just manic-pixie. Will see.

  2. Same was said a decade ago…when HRITHIK, ABHISHEK, VIVEK, & TUSHAR were launched..& now only HRITHIK ROSHAN is a SUPERSTAR who enjoys almost same Fan Following like Khans…while the rest we know where are they.

    • Hahaha, good point. It’ll be fun to see where they all end up in a few years. My guess is that Ranbir & Ranveer will definitely still be around, don’t know about the rest. :p

  3. ayushmann is the only good thing to happen to bollywood in the past decade after hrithik…all the above are hopeless overactors or non-actors :)

  4. Ranveer is the only hero material in gen next, as far I’m aware:D The kid is bold, loud and shameless, kind of a love child of salman and srk;) Ranbir is really good actor that’s for sure and Imran is really cute altough I allways get this vibe that acting was his second choice career option. I didn’t see any work from rest of them.
    I’m not a fan of Ranbir really, but I’m impressed with his career choices, I don’t know but I feel like that it’s not that is to carve a steady career even when you are star child especially when there are certain expectation what kind of films should you star in. I thin Abishek career would went better if it wasn’t such a pressure on him to match his father popularity.

    • Shachu,

      Totally agree re Ranveer – very different energy from the rest. I became a huge Ranbir fan after Rockstar, and I’m just happy to see that someone that young is taking an approach to his career that is craft-based rather than popularity-based. Think he’s smart to establish himself as an actor now – he’ll probably take advantage of doing more “popular” roles/films later…

  5. Nice review! My views about the actors are more or less similar to yours- impressed with Ranbir’s movie choices and body of work, waiting eagerly for Ranvir’s future projects, feel Ayushmaan would be better in character driven movies (Abhay Deol type, as you rightly said), find Imran so- so and cannot fathom the hype around Arjun Kapoor. The dude did not impress me much in the songs or by his looks/personality, I haven’t seen Ishaqzaade so cannot comment on his acting though.

    But most of all I agree with what you said about Sushant S. Rajput. The guy is good looking, has a lovely smile, emotes well and dances like a dream. (The O Re Piya video you posted is one of my favourites, along with the Chhau on Arambh hai prachand and Salsa on Baakhuda Tumhi ho and Raundhe hain..-Horror Act). From whatever I have followed of his movie will now, Kai Po Che looks like a film which can get critical acclaim (owing to the serious issues like Godhra riots) and will be full of entertainment as well, thanks to the youthful flavour of the story and cricket. Am really looking forward to see what Abhishek Kapoor has in store for us after Rock on, I really liked that movie!

  6. Would like to add, am glad that Sushant is sticking to UTV rather than getting into a three film deal with Yashraj films. UTV is into good scripts these days and markets even small budget films well- something that YRF doesn’t do- remember Luv ka the End and Mujhse Fraaandship karoge?
    But yes, I do want to see Sushant in that dance film with YRF… :)

  7. Nikita,

    Thanks for your thoughts. Totally agree that Sushant is better off without the 3-film YRF contract. A one-off with them would be great, especially if it’s dance based! Totally rooting for this guy. :)

  8. It’s starting to feel lonely in this position but I really like Imran Khan too. He’s such a down to earth, laid back kinda guy and I do like his calculated choices of balancing Rom Coms that guarantee box office return as well bigger chances he takes (Delhi Belly and Kidnap both being very different to anything his contemporaries have done although that might not always be a smart choice) especially as he knows he doesnt have the charisma of Ranbhir who he gets pitted against regularly and unfairly. Ω

    And in another way I feel he has the same subdued Energy Amir has where he is pretty much Amir in every film with different shades (compare I Hate Luv Story to Mere Brother Ki Dulhan)
    Plus I’ve spoken to him on a podcast and had tons of fun so call me biased :-)

    I saw Ishaqzaade too recently and wasn’t really impressed, and I straight out hated Vicky Donor so don’t see at all why that movie was such a success? Maybe the “authentic” North Indian flavour? The story was mediocre to me.

    Btw no love for Ali Zafar? He has some cracking energy, great choices, and totally and outsider?

    • Asim – Ha! So THAT”S why so much high praise for Imran ;) I think he’s a great guy off-screen, chilled and laid back but to me he is absolute cardboard on screen. Just does nothing for me and I think he’s absolutely the same in every film. Aamir at least brings some shades of the character in while Imran is just…Imran.

      You didn’t like Vicky Donor?!!! OMG, LOVED that movie. so funny. Wasn’t about the story so much as how it was written – awesome dialog, great acting by everyone.

      I did miss out on Ali Zafar didn’t I? Maybe coz I’ve only seen MBKD and wasn’t as impressed by him as everyone else was…somehow he’s not on my radar, but that’s just me.

      Also, now there’s Varun Dhawan to add to this list – that guy’s here to stay – I predict. :p

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