Ranbir Kapoor has portrayed a number of versatile characters over his 15-year acting career, but has never played the macho young man – a quintessential character for Bollywood superstars. His next film Shamshera has all the elements of a classic Bollywood hit – a handsome but tough hero who can fight 10 goons at once, get a dual role, a simple romance and as ruthless a villain as possible. However, can Ranbir be able to deliver box office success and find the superstar he dreams of by taking this risky step in his career? Read also | Ranbir Kapoor says his childhood dream of being a hero is incomplete: ‘Kisi ne na taali maari, na seeti’
The Hindi film industry has changed a lot since Amitabh Bachchan immortalized the ‘angry young man’ archetype with his films like Zanjeer (1973), Deewar (1975), Don (1978) among many others. Anil Kapoor, Sanjay Dutt, Jackie Shroff also impersonated the angry young man in their films and established a macho image with their films. Ajay Devgn wowed audiences with his intense eyes, but things gradually changed in the 90s. Aamir Khan, Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan – the new superstars, played the cliché Hindi hero, but each rose to prominence for different types of movies, mostly in the romantic genre. All have played unconventional and critically acclaimed roles from time to time but have always retained the titles of larger than life Hindi film heroes.
In today’s era, with content from around the world available for public deposition, the fight for fame has become more difficult. There is an opportunity for everyone to shine with the emergence of OTT platforms, as the concept of Bollywood superstars is slowly fading away. Many are of the opinion that the three Khans are the last in the industry to be called superstars, and for good reason, no Bollywood actor has been able to claim the title since then. While critically acclaimed actors, previously popular as character actors, are showered with love, traditional Hindi heroes, especially those from a film family, are subject to criticism.
Ranbir, in his case, managed to gain critical acclaim for his acting even while being in the mainstream. For every classic romantic hero he played, the actor had offbeat roles waiting in his pipeline. Ranbir has played leading roles in 18 movies since his debut in 2007’s Saawariya, but the kind of unconventional roles he chose were unusual for someone who wanted to become a superstar. From the 2009 films Wake Up Sid and Rocket Singh to the 2012 film Barfi and the 2015 film Tamasha, Ranbir has established himself as a critically acclaimed actor. He was never about to lose his mainstream acting status, even though his 2013 film Besharam and 2015 movies like Roy and Bombay Velvet failed miserably at the box office.
However, Ranbir has made it clear that he wants to be a superstar now. Shamshera has many firsts for Ranbir – her first dual role, her first action film, her first role in a hero-villain format, and her first larger-than-life character. While preparing for the release of Shamshera, Ranbir made no secret of the fact that he wanted to change his career chart with director Karan Malhotra. In a promotional video for the film, Ranbir recalled that he wanted to be a hero like Amitabh Bachchan or Shah Rukh Khan, and missed being acclaimed like them by the public. He confessed, “Growing up, the heroes of Hindi films became the heroes of my life. But curiously, when I became an actor, I didn’t choose the kind of films that my heroes would choose. So I may have satisfied the actor of But when I think back to 12-year-old Ranbir, who is obsessed with Hindi cinema, I feel like uska sapna abhi bhi adhoora hai (his dream is still incomplete).”
Ranbir’s father, the late actor Rishi Kapoor, also wanted his son to play the Hindi film hero and said in his memoir Khullam Khulla that he did not understand the kind of roles he took on. On several occasions in recent days, Ranbir has said he now understands what his father was trying to say when he told him his unconventional roles would not make him a “national hero”. Ranbir has made it clear that he plans to follow Rishi’s advice by making commercial films and hopes to become the quintessential Hindi film hero. This had also been the advice of Sanjay Dutt, the villain of Ranbir’s next film, who repeatedly expressed his displeasure with Ranbir’s script choices.
However, becoming a hero isn’t that easy, especially in today’s “content is king” era. There is an additional risk because no one has been able to decode the formula for what works for the public. Bollywood actors have moved into unconventional character roles to provide new content to their fans, but South Indian cinema has gained international recognition and major box office collections with its typical artists at the heavy heroes. Ranbir, who has already been absent from the screen for more than four years, could make a huge mistake by changing the direction of his filmography in one quick move.
The interesting thing is that Ranbir is aware of the risk and still wants to take this step to fulfill his dream of becoming a hero. In a recent interview with Pinkvilla, the actor said: “Being a quintessential Hindi movie hero is the hardest genre. Being part of a good movie is easy – they are genre movies. “a Hindi film par excellence. film that is multi-genre is very difficult. So it takes a lot of hard work and a lot of luck. 10 years ago, I didn’t have the conviction or the confidence to make a film of this nature.
Ranbir has proven his talent but he definitely needs a lot of luck and a number of miracles besides hard work to become a hero in these times. Less than two months after Shamshera on July 22, the actor will mark the release of his highly anticipated film Brahmastra, his first film with wife Alia Bhatt. 2022 is a pivotal year in Ranbir’s career, and he could do well with both mass artists.