With Barfi!, Ranbir Kapoor once again proves his claim to the Bollywood throne

By Priyanka Srivastava

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Ranbir Kapoor has floored the audience all over again. The actor's deaf-mute act in Anurag Basu's Barfi!, cocktailing Charlie Chaplin, Mr Bean, Monsieur Hulot, grand dad Raj Kapoor and Kishore Kumar, once again confirms his status as Bollywood's new-age chameleon superstar who dares to break stereotypes.

With Barfi!, Ranbir also proves that he is not entirely piggybanking on pedigree. Barely five years in the industry, he has strategically chosen to be experimental to carve his niche. In the process, he has also avoided the standard Bollywood superstar image that mostly rides a largerthan- life six-pack aura.

Indeed, Ranbir's characters have been unique, surprising fans each time. If Imtiaz Ali's Rockstar saw him play a Delhi-based Jat boy who goes on to become a rock musician tormented in love, Prakash Jha's Raajneeti had the actor portraying grey shades as a political heir.

Ranbir Kapoor in Barfi! - a romantic comedy directed by Anurag Basu

Ranbir Kapoor in Barfi! - a romantic comedy directed by Anurag Basu

Shimit Amin's Rocket Singh: Salesman Of The Year, his most challenging role barring Barfi!, saw him don a turban to play a Sikh salesman willing to bend the rules to rise to the top. In Ayan Mukerji's Wake Up Sid, he essayed a slice-of-life portrayal of today's youth.

In fact, Bachna Ae Haseeno and Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani, primarily love stories, saw him play roles that were slightly off the conventional. In Bachna... Ranbir was the outrageous flirt who learns the value of true love after being spurned. Ajab Prem... was a rom-com that cast him in a goofy comic book setup.

Ranbir's own admission is a modest one. 'I just want to do all types of roles,' he says.

His directors, though, cannot stop gushing about the actor, widely hailed as the man who will inherit the Bollywood throne sooner or later.

'Ranbir thinks from his heart and follows his heart while selecting films. He doesn't wait a minute to give his nod if he likes a script and a role. That spontaneity shows on the screen. Ranbir speaks with his eyes and emotes with his heart,' says Anurag Basu, who directed him in Barfi! and is all set to cast him as Kishore Kumar in a biopic on the legendary playback singer.

The talented actor is able to surprise the audience with every new film

The talented actor is able to surprise the audience with every new film

Prakash Jha, who directed Ranbir in Raajneeti, agrees that Ranbir's ability to surprise is what works. Jha, who called the actor a 'surprise package on the sets', is waiting for his dates to start Raajneeti 2. The trade observes how Ranbir has courted boxoffice success despite experimenting. 'At his stage of career, any young actor would want to play safe. More so if you consider Ranbir has the Kapoor surname. Yet, he has broken that mould. While the younger lot mostly looks for authorbacked roles to enhance image, Ranbir is willing to take chances without bothering about the 100-crore club,' says trade analyst Taran Adarsh

While conceptualising Barfi!, Anurag was admittedly restless about his choice for the lead. Once he thought of Ranbir, though, things fell in place. 'Once you see him on screen, you will agree I didn't need to have a second choice because no one could have done the role the way he did it,' says Anurag.

Hailed as Bollywood's crown prince right now, things weren't always this smooth for Ranbir despite his lineage. Being Rishi Kapoor's son and Raj Kapoor's grandson may have made him a celebrity the day he was born, but he did not have a dream launch like Hrithik Roshan. Ranbir's debut, Saawariya, was a huge flop despite being directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali. His second release, Bachna Ae Haseeno, was barely a hit. He tasted multiplex success with Wake Up Sid but the film hardly left any impact in the single screens.

Box-office wise, Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani in 2009 and Raajneeti the next year changed his luck. Cast with Katrina Kaif in both films, it helped that the gossip grapevine at that point was abuzz with rumours about their affair.

But then, Ranbir would tell you he has never cared for rumours to get his career going. Rather, his focus on experimenting with by Priyanka Srivastava roles springs from the fact that intrinsically he has a filmmaker's mind.

Ranbir has always said he would love to direct one day. Reports of his active participation in the creative process of his films are also always rampant. He actually started off assisting Bhansali on Black.

Ranbir films
Ranbir films

Right now, Ranbir is said to be working to revive the RK Banner, which has seen no action over 13 years. Once that happens, the wheels will be set in motion for Ranbir to emerge as an actor-filmmaker like his grandfather Raj Kapoor was.

This cerebral aura about him makes Ranbir special. 'No actor in the current lot comes close to Ranbir as far as thinking ability is concerned. He is bustling with ideas. Only Aamir Khan has a similar trait,' says Adarsh.

The trait itself has made the industry compare Ranbir to Aamir. It is uncanny that he replaced Aamir in Anurag Kashyap's forthcoming Bombay Velvet. The film is reportedly based on the book Bombay Fables and will once again see Ranbir experimenting. This time, he plays a travel show host in a story set against the backdrop of the evolution of Mumbai.

'He fits the role and most importantly his presence puts me at ease as far as the money involved is concerned,' says Kashyap, hinting that box office returns are assured when Ranbir stars in a film.

Ranbir also stars in Dabangg maker Abhinav Kashyap's next, Besharam, a film that will see him play a conman. He will also be seen in good friend Ayan Mukerji's Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani opposite ex-flame Deepika Padukone. 'Every word of script remains in his mind,' says Ayan, who credits his foray into filmmaking to Ranbir. After all, it was Ranbir who came up with the title of their last film, Wake Up Sid.

THE RIVALS

A look at the other GenNext contenders vying for the Bollywood crown right now

Ranbir rivals

Ranbir rivals

THE RETURN OF ANURAG BASU

Anurag Basu exorcises the demons of his last release, the dud Kites, with the success of his latest hit, Barfi!

Anurag Basu

BARFI! is being hailed as a sunshine film but director Anurag Basu is surprised. He was only hoping to recover the money his producers invested in the film and it has turned out to be a huge success.

'The box-office success of the film is unbelievable. I thought that a limited audience would like Barfi! so the hit status came as a surprise,' says Anurag.

At a time, when every Bollywood filmmaker is reeling under the pressure of making it to the 100-crore club, Anurag is unfazed. 'Instead of making 100 crore, I would rather touch a 100 hearts. That's more important,' he says.

Barfi! is Anurag's comeback film in every way considering his last release, the muchhyped Kites starring Hrithik Roshan, flopped despite riding huge hype. The failure of Kites hurt Anurag even more because he was trying to return with the film after battling blood cancer since the mid 2000s. When Kites failed, almost the entire industry wrote him off.

'I have realised that's part of the job. One needs to take these things in stride. I passionately write short stories and one such story was Barfi!. I elaborated the story into a script and that's how the film was born,' he says.

Anurag started off directing saas-bahu soaps for Ekta Kapoor before a dud Bollywood debut with Saaya. The consecutive successes of Murder, Gangster and Life In A Metro changed his tide, and Bollywood was soon hailing him as a mainstream director with a unique sensibility.

'Every time I start making a film I ensure that I do not get into any already existing genre. My aim is to create my kind of cinema that tackles different subjects in a unique way. A film needs almost a year or more to complete. As a filmmaker, I want to be passionate about it in order to make the audience enjoy the product i give them,' he says.

 


 

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