2018 has proved a bountiful year vis-à-vis over two decades of Hindi cinema. It has given the first successes or comeback hits for so many filmmakers as well, and also for a couple of actresses.
But these six heroes have truly got going with the fare we have got this year.
John Abraham - Debut and first hit: Jism (2003)
Initially considered just a great bod but a hunk of wood as an actor, John Abraham, gradually, was proving his critics wrong, with his free-flowing comic roles in Dostana and Housefull 2 in particular, and a few more. The non-actor image, however, ruthlessly stuck to him despite even the sensitive Madras Café turn. The tide turned only with his home production Parmanu, in which his performance was underplayed but nuanced, and which earned him, as a producer, the respect that even Vicky Donor and Madras Café mysteriously did not.
And then, just a month later has come his ace, Satyameva Jayate, a film in which he finally showed that he was capable of carrying a mainstream commercial film solo on his solid shoulders. His film RAW now carries tremendous anticipation, something that had never happened with John before. Correction: Anything he does will now be spurring great audience interest.
Shahid Kapoor - Debut and first success: Ishq Vishq (2003)
One hit in Jab We Met and scattered average or breakeven films with many flops dotted the Shahid Kapoor landscape for almost 15 years. Never mind some good performances and his boyish appeal—and the fact that he luckily kept getting films even after catastrophes like Chance Pe Dance, Mausam, Rangoon and more. But Padmaavat saw him enter not just the 100 crore club but slalom straight into the 300 crore league. He finally had a super-hit too to his name.
It did not matter that his role was secondary, tertiary or whatever. It showed that he was a consummate actor who chose films now, not projects. Today, he is doing films that on face value evoke interest—Batti Gul Meter Shuru has a decent buzz, and the remake of Arjun Reddy will be another mainstream attraction. At the b-o., Shahid is no longer an economically or qualitatively dangerous word.
Ranbir Kapoor - Debut: Saawariya (2007), First success: Bachna Ae Haseeno (2008)
He always glittered as actor, but survived almost a decade on just four hits, multiple flops and a few also-rans. After his career-biggest hit in Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani mid-way, he plummeted with four disasters in Besharam, Roy, Bombay Velvet and Jagga Jasoos.
For these very reasons and the choice of subject, very little was expected from Sanju. However, with a towering turn that must rank among the ten best male lead performances of the decade (though we would say his Jagga Jasoos also romps in here), Ranbir not only reasserted himself as a pedigreed Kapoor, making dad Rishi Kapoor immensely proud, but showed that he had a dormant fan following that erupted with uninhibited glee when he carried this Sanjay Dutt biopic singly on his shoulders. The Kapoors and stardom can never be separated.
Rajkummar Rao - Debut and first hit: Love Sex Aur Dhokha (2010)
He was the modern counterpart of midstream actors like Naseeruddin Shah, Farouque Sheikh, Manoj Bajpayee and Irrfan Khan. His repertoire of acting triumphs (more than half of which were box-office losers) included Ragini MMS, Gangs Of Wasseypur, Queen, Shahid, Aligarh, Trapped, Newton, Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana and Bareilly Ki Barfi.
But as someone recently pointed out, “Awards do not run homes or give security to your children.” Happily, Rajkummar was always considered a versatile boy-next-door and juggled commercial leads (like the last two films above and Queen) and even romanced Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in this year’s flop Fanney Khan.
But it is Stree that has made Rajkummar a star to reckon with and confirmed his credentials as a box-office allure, getting him, for starters, Anurag Basu’s next multi-star film.
Kartik Aaryan - Debut and claimed success: Pyaar Ka Punch Nama (2011)
He showed his mettle in his debut film, but what followed was a mixed bag, but for Pyaar Ka Punch Nama 2 that showed his star potential. This was finally realized this year with Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety, which can be said to have made him a star, as different from a bankable actor. He will now romance Kriti Sanon in Luka Chhupi and more films will be coming up.
Tiger Shroff - Debut and first hit: Heropanti (2014)
He scored a triumph with Heropanti, and backed it up with Baaghi, a bigger hit. Intelligent enough to know his limitations as well as core strengths, Tiger Shroff seemed to, however, take his fans for granted when he green-lit debacles like A Flying Jatt and Munna Michael, seemingly out of emotional reasons.
But Baaghi 2 made everyone forget that. As a human blast of avenging fury, Tiger Shroff and the spectacular action he did, apparently minus a duplicate stunt artiste, fired on all cylinders to take the film well past the Rs. 150 crore with virtually no heroine.
Statutory Warning: None of these six actors can take this success for granted. They need to keep their head and feet on terra firma and reject projects that can harm them. Reliable feedback and qualified sounding boards who know what they are talking about will be a help, like writer Sanyukha Chawla Sheikh is for John.
After all, come Padmaavat, Parmanu, Satyameva Jayate, Sanju, Stree, Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety or Baaghi 2, the genres may differ, the content may vary from fluffy to weighty to even dark, but the bottomline is always that sacred mantra—Entertainment! Entertainment! Entertainment!
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