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In this special four part feature, Joginder Tuteja would be taking readers through the 10 years journey of Hrithik Roshan which has been nothing but a roller coaster ride. Seeing early success, Hrithik saw himself staring at the bottom of the barrel before a great resurgence brought a turnaround in fortunes.
Part II of this feature takes readers through Hrithik’s turnaround phase where he was almost finished
While Shah Rukh Khan just laughed it all away, just as he had done for his other counterparts who had turned out to be a flash in the pan during the 90s, Hrithik managed to hold on, though surprisingly in films that weren’t quite an ideal follow ups to Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai. These were some of the films that he had consented to before he became a sensation after his debut effort. Fiza, a half baked film by Khalid Mohammad saw an opening due to the fan base that had multiplied exponentially after Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai. However, audience can’t be fooled for days at stretch and the outcome was scathing criticism that came the film’s way (with some of it also falling into Hrithik’s lap as well). There were danger signs ahead that clearly indicated that audience weren’t expecting him to do experimental films or play a role where he was in a supporting role.
This was evidenced yet again in Mission Kashmir which, despite being a good success, had resulted in industry wondering if there would ever be another Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai by Hrithik. Playing Sanjay Dutt‘s son with Sonali Kulkarni as a mother was looked at rather suspiciously (and amusedly) while the character played by him, that of a terrorist, seemed way too convenient. However, his charisma coupled with some excellent action ensured that Hrithik stayed on while promising something better in quick time.
However, this was not the case to be as Yaadein which followed in the year ahead was a complete compromise affair. A Subhash Ghai film, which was about a father (Jackie Shroff) and his love and affection for his daughters (Kareena Kapoor & rest) turned out to be an out and out cheesy love story with Hrithik ending up playing a pivotal role. It was clear that the script (which was written before the release of Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai) was reworked on to accommodate the big star that the makers had at their disposal – Hrithik Roshan.
The fact remains though, and something which ex-showman Ghai would definitely agree today based on his vast experience, is that a star can never be above the script. The film was rejected by audience and for the first time ever in his eventful last few months; Hrithik experienced the bitter taste of failure. However, the damage was done by then as he had signed a flurry of films, all of which were all set to make life further miserable for the superstar, who was now relegated to merely a star, in the year to follow. In the meantime, he had to find solace in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham which was clearly an Amitabh Bachchan-Shah Rukh Khan starrer and despite its super success, the picture was clear on the wall – Hrithik had to do something on his own rather than piggy bank on big banners, big directors or big co-stars. He had to do it soon and he had to do it fast. Because this was the time when the same old detractors of Shah Rukh Khan were pretty much ready to pass on the placard to him that read bold and clear – FINISHED.
Yes, indeed finished!
Did that happen? Oh yes, it certainly did and in fact sooner than expected. What followed next wasn’t something that Hrithik wouldn’t have imagined. He knew the films he had signed. He was aware about the work he had done. He was certain about how the films had shaped. And he perhaps may also have had an inkling of what lied ahead. Both his romantic tales – Aap Mujhe Achche Lagne Lage (reuniting him with Amisha Patel after their debut effort Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai) and Na Tum Jaano Na Hum (featuring ice maiden and yet so raw Esha Deol) were huge disappointments from all aspects. Nothing really stood out here, be it performances, music, overall product and of course box
Such misfortune would have broken anyone but Hrithik could still at least hope for the best since a film each with Yash Raj Films and Rajshri Productions was pretty much on the anvil. Both Mujhse Dosti Karoge and Main Prem Ki Deewani Hoon featured Kareena Kapoor opposite him and it was expected that he would finally bounce back after his failed efforts with Amisha and Esha.
However, that was not the case to be as the fate of both the films was already sealed. Mujhse Dosti Karogi was totally rejected as a candy floss affair that didn’t have any soul to boast. On the other hand Main Prem Ki Deewani Hoon saw itself going past the coverage mark due to past record (Hum Aapke Hain Kaun, Hum Saath Saath Hain) of Sooraj Barjatya but stayed on to be his most negatively criticised film ever. For Hrithik too, these films got quite some backlash and the placard finally landed in his backyard. Expectedly, it read – FINISHED.
(Visit this space again for Part III of this feature where readers would be taken through a phase where Roshans forward planning resulted in a great revival of fortunes for Hrithik)