Will Ranveer Singh be the next Khan of Bollywood? His competitors are many, but his strategy is better
The Khans are ageing. Akshay, Ajay and Hritihik aren't young either. Between Ranbir Kapoor, Ayushmann Khurrana, etc., here's why Ranveer Singh stands out.
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Ranveer Singh must be thrilled. His latest, the Rohit Shetty-helmed masala entertainer Simmba, is yet another success. Six days at the theatres and the film has reportedly grossed Rs 138.75 crore at the box office. Collections should touch the 150-crore mark in the first week itself, which is outstanding.
For quite some time, fervent discussions were on about an ineluctable BO confrontation between the Singh-starrer and the Aanand L Rai-directed Shah Rukh Khan film, Zero, which had released a week earlier.
Sangram ‘Simmba’ Bhalerao is the latest to take the box office by storm. (Photo: YouTube/screengrab)
The masses have given their verdict now. Ranveer’s Sangram ‘Simmba’ Bhalerao, the flamboyant cop with over-the-top mannerisms, has attracted more footfalls than SRK’s Bauua Singh, the man from Meerut.
Singh’s Twitter followers have erupted in joy.
One of them, with the handle @Arjuncapone, has tweeted, ‘Well deserved success...You are a superstar NOW...Do more action comedy masala entertainers...’
Evidently a diehard fan, he might have spoken too soon. Still, there is little doubt that the 33-year-old actor is, slowly but surely, inching towards superstardom.
Singh has big hits under his belt. He can attract followers because he comes across as a cheerful and vivacious person in real life. He can talk and talk, and act a little mad in public, like he did in the controversial All India Bakchod Knockout, a roast comedy show, in 2015.
He is also a confident man, who can make people look at him by wearing mismatched clothes and accessories — an approach to dressing up that Vanity Fair described most delightfully as the ‘scumbro’ look.
Ranveer Singh's clothes have caught viewers' eyes, if not always their fancy. (Photo: India Today)
Singh is good-looking, but not in the Greek-God chiselled-features Hrithik Roshan-sense. Significantly, he is not doomed to be an urban phenomenon with limited reach. His accent and body language indicate that he can connect with the masses living far away from the Westernised megapolises.
If the actor ticks all the right boxes while choosing his scripts, most of his fans will be from the bigger part of India, outside of metros, that turns films into genuine blockbusters — and huge flops.
Singh had debuted in Maneesh Sharma’s lively romantic comedy Band Baaja Baaraat (2010), in which he played a wedding planner. In the eight years thereafter, he has been seen in a variety of roles. He has featured in three films made by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, who has flung challenges at him that he has been quick to accept.
In Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela (2013), a Romeo Juliet-inspired tragedy soaked in bright hues, he is a star-crossed lover. In Bajirao Mastani (2015), an 18th century period drama, he is Peshwa Bajirao I. In Padmaavat (2018), another period film, he is Alauddin Khilji, the king of the Khilji dynasty, who wants to capture the Rajput queen Padmavati and make her his own.
Sanjay Leela Bhansali has thrown many challenges Ranveer's way — and he has met them all. (Photo: YouTube/screengrab)
Singh, who had worked with director Zoya Akhtar in the ensemble cast-driven success Dil Dhadakne Do (2015) earlier, will now be seen as an underground rapper in Gully Boy, her upcoming film. Clearly, he is a man on the move and on the lookout for variety, challenges and good outcomes.
Call it fate or timing, Singh has come into his own when the three Khans (Aamir, Salman, Shah Rukh) have turned 53.
Aamir, the oldest among them, is nearing his 54th birthday. While they are undisputed megastars even today, the trio’s grip does seem to be weakening.
The year 2018 turned out to be a disappointment for all of them. Salman’s action drama, Race 3, didn’t sprint impressively enough. Aamir’s fantasy, Thugs of Hindostan, was a colossal bore. SRK’s Zero, like Aamir’s Thugs, promised a lot but failed to deliver.
Writing the epitaphs of their careers will be blatantly unfair. One must not forget that Salman had delivered Tiger Zinda Hai (2017), a blockbuster, before Race 3. Aamir, a miracle maker, had given Dangal (2016) and Secret Superstar (2017) before Thugs sullied his track record. Of the three, Shah Rukh hasn’t roared for a while — still, he is Shah Rukh, the man who, his fans insist, is the only ‘King Khan’.
It's been a while since 'King Khan' delivered a smashing hit. (Photo: YouTube/screengrab)
Everything that begins must end. Fans of the Khans, who number in millions, may not agree. But while the trio is working on big projects, popular interest in their work will diminish with time — if it hasn’t already.
Akshay Kumar, also in his early 50s, has been remarkably consistent without getting sufficient credit for it. That is because an Akshay blockbuster is smaller than a Khan blockbuster, which prevents him ostensibly from being in the race for superstardom.
Along with his peers, among them, the successful Ajay Devgn, Kumar is working in a liberal era which accepts middle-aged stars far more easily. But the baton has to be given away sooner rather than later.
Gifted and handsome, Hrithik Roshan had made a grand impact with the widely popular romantic drama, Kaho Naa...Pyaar Hai (2000). The dashing actor found millions of fans, making it seem that he might topple the Khans soon. Many years, hits and failures later, one can say that never happened.
Hrithik Roshan was once touted as the successor to the Khans, but never quite reached their league. (Photo: YouTube/screengrab)
Does Ranveer have competitors among the younger stars?
Senior by a few years, Shahid Kapoor fumbled and blundered while choosing his scripts, which destroyed his chances of becoming a much bigger star.
Leading the pack of challengers now is Ranbir Kapoor, who was marvellous in the central role in Sanju, the Sanjay Dutt biopic.
A sympathetic account of the controversial star, Sanju became the biggest hit of last year. The film was the highlight of Ranbir’s career, propelling him back into the reckoning — but it must be said that Sanjay Dutt’s story was a big reason why the film worked the way it did.
Ranbir Kapoor's Sunju was a big hit — but the appeal of Sanjay Dutt had a part to play in it. (Photo: YouTube/screengrab)
Varun Dhawan, despite decent performances in Badlapur (2015) and October (2018), is an actor with visible limitations.
Tiger Shroff has shown that a well-sculpted physique and martial arts skills can produce hits like Baaghi (2016) and its even more successful sequel, Baaghi 2 (2018). Can stunt marketing attract viewers to the theatres repeatedly? That’s highly unlikely in an era when viewers are not only far more selective, but also spoilt for choice.
Modern-day Bollywood has some other young actors, such as Sushant Singh Rajput, Arjun Kapoor and Siddharth Malhotra, who can be also viewed as aspirants for bigger stardom.
The emergence of three talented actors — Ayushmann Khurrana, Vicky Kaushal, Rajkummar Rao — has been a gift from heaven for filmmakers who wish to make offbeat, progressive films. These films can become sleeper hits, but not popular blockbusters that reach out to many viewers nationwide and also in the overseas market.
Ranveer may go for cameos in small-budget movies, but generally sticks to grand stages that produce superstars. (Photo: YouTube/screengrab)
Ranveer Singh defines the idea of the traditional commercial motion picture star. He might chip in with a cameo in a small-budget film like Finding Fanny (2014), in which he played the husband of his now-wife, Deepika Padukone.
But he is the kind of star who will usually select — and flourish in — big-budget films that must earn higher returns to justify investments and make profits.
The young actor has appeared in a few tough examinations in his career. Gully Boy, which will be releasing on February 14, has to take on Indra Kumar’s star-studded comedy Total Dhamaal, which will hit the marquee one week later.
How these films fare remains to be seen. But rest assured, Ranveer’s 11.2 million Twitter followers must be waiting for their release. That includes one @Arjuncapone.