Ranbir Kapoor: The Rise. The Fall. The Resurgence.
It’s who you know, not what you know. Now, I’m not saying ‘filmi’ family dynasties are the sole preserve of Bollywood, but you have to admit the plethora of star kids is ridiculous, so much so that when a Ranveer Singh or a Sidharth Malhora achieve a loyal following, we’re all but slightly taken aback. Stark outsiders you see, no leg up… No fast track. It's getting so ludicrous that certain *cough* bloggers are even pairing current star foetus' into prospective ‘jodis’! Give them a chance! It doesn’t take rocket science to figure out who’s being referred to here. *eye roll*
Rarely though, do these star kids achieve the level of success that their parents have. For every Sunny Deol there’s a Tushar Kapoor or a Fardeen Khan, heck even Sunny's own sibling Bobby Deol, had limited success in the limelight. Twinkle Khanna’s another prime example… where history books were re-written regarding dad Rajesh Khanna’s popularity in the 70’s, Twinkle’s on screen shenanigans, can at best, be termed gawky or awkward.
Hands up those cynics who thought the very same when another star kid, Ranbir Kapoor made his debut with another star kid, Sonam Kapoor in Saawariya. For director Sanja Leela Bhansali to debut these newbies was major – after all SLB is synonymous with established actors du jour.
Kapoor is not only a star-kid, he’s a star grand-kid, son of not only Rishi Kapoor but also Neetu Singh a stalwart of 70's/80's cinema, Randhir Kapoor’s nephew and subsequently, divas Karisma and Kareena’s Kapoor’s elitist cousin. And yes original showman Raj Kapoor’s grandson and therefore Prithviraj Kapoor’s great grandson (yes I went that far). With those credentials, this young scion at the very onset, definitely had A LOT to live up to.
Despite the big ticket and the accolades awarded industry wide for this debut, Kapoor and even Sonam for that matter, didn’t really manage to crack the market and in hindsight this has been a blessing.
Kapoor followed up the colossal failure that was Saawariya by diligently portraying diverse characters in a slew of varied movies. Whether it was the man child Sid in Wake up Sid discovering his first love for an older woman from a different background, Rocket Singh an everyday tale of the everyday man working an everyday job trying to make it, the love struck second fiddle in the cartoon-ish farce Ajab Prem Ki Gazab Kahani, Kapoor aced them all achieving the kind of success that heralded the arrival of a new emperor.
Each outing showed a capability to become the character – he was not merely Ranbir Kapoor, he was utterly believable as the hapless Sid, the angst ridden Rockstar or the tortured Samar in political drama Raajneeti where he was saddled with bearing the burden of the family profession (irony, much?)
It wasn't until Barfi! released in 2012, some five years after his debut that we really started to notice this kid. You know, the one who didn't bulk up and rip his shirt open for item numbers and wasn't your archetypal Bollywood brat – well not in public at least.
Enacting the role of a deaf mute with virtually no dialogue, Kapoor’s Murphy spoke to the audience with his silences conveying both angst and joy with unprecedented passion. His slapstick persona, a throwback to his grandfather Raj Kapoor, which we were first introduced to in Ajab Prem..., was revisited. Barfi/Murphy may have been disabled but was no less able to cause mischief and mayhem with his desperate disruptive antics. Stellar performances by Kapoor and leading ladies Priyanka Chopra and Ileana D'Cruz and a multi-layered story line weaving back and forth through time makes Barfi! a modern day classic, at least in my eyes. My heart still breaks each time I watch it and this is only because of Kapoor who can express more emotion in a look than most muster with a page of verbosity.
Barfi! was followed by Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani which with its fluorescent hues, dazzling locations and killer soundtrack and that unmistakable chemistry with ex Deepika Padukone which exploded at the box office with six digit figures, and it seemed like there was no stopping this czar from the Kapoor dynasty.
But alas the law of averages ultimately kicked in, and all that success bit the dust when the super-publicised Besharam which also starred his parents, tanked, beginning with it a media created death knell for the actor who was once heralded as the next best thing.
In the midst of all this professional drama his doomed off-screen love life with both Padukone and Katrina Kaif were the centre of every media event, every blog and gossip column.
So, failure permeated every area of his life. Was he cursed? Was all that early glory to no avail?
It would seem so yes. Besharam was followed by Bombay Velvet and Tamasha, both which boasted of a superior turn by him, but neither did much at the box office to revive his sagging popularity.
Bombay Velvet was an expensive turkey but. But. It still had a lot going for it. It was essentially a brassy period film revolving around a hood and a moll, both looking for a way out, a way up, to be accepted. Kapoor’s Johnny was cold and calculating, violent and aggressive all at once. The intricate attention to detail, highly stylised, ensured that the viewer was consumed by the larger than life setting. But because the film tanked, Kapoor’s work in the film went largely unnoticed which was a darned shame.
So where are we now?
Here we are. Just released a teaser trailer and a few songs from Karan Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil watched, mulled, digested, especially the recently released soul-wrenching ‘Bulleya’. To say this film is highly anticipated would be an understatement. Social media means we don't miss a second of any tidbit deliberately dropped, eagerly lapped up, frenetically explored to give recipients an in road.
We see four actors (Kapoor with Anushka Sharma, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in all her splendor, and newbie Fawad Khan), we see tears, angst, pain, we feel the hurt conveyed with those expressive eyes, the plaintive vocals of the songs imploring the viewer to understand the torment Kapoor’s character seems to be going through. What happened to the happy guy, what transpired to make the characters so tortured? The film can't come soon enough if you believe the hype.
Nearly a decade later and Kapoor has had quite the mixed bag, but one thing’s for certain – there's no finer actor in his generation and whether it’s genes or genius or a mixture of both – true talent always shines through.
Here's to your next decade Ranbir *raises glass* – ching ching.