IS RANVEER SINGH a talented movie star or an over-rated actor who has got lucky?
I have always thought it was the latter, but many disagree and believe he is a big screen idol with bags of talent. Now that he has had three epic failures in a row, it is worth taking a deep dive into his career before his next film Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani comes out on April 28.
It has been widely reported that Ranbir Kapoor was the first choice to play the lead in the 2010 romantic comedy Band Baaja Baaraat, but after he rejected the film, Ranveer auditioned for the same role and made his Bollywood debut.
The actor, who was signed up to the Yash Raj Films talent agency, has vehemently denied reports that his parents had paid the production house a large amount of money to launch him as a hero in that film.
His next two films Ladies vs Ricky Bahl and Lootera had received critical acclaim, and his
performances were appreciated, but the movies weren’t big commercial successes. Then something happened,which changed the course of Ranveer’s life, and that career break has been debated a lot in recent years.
Bollywood’s most successful commercial director of the modern era, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, wanted to cast Sushant Singh Rajput in his next three movies Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela, Bajirao Mastani and Padmaavat.
According to multiple media reports, Sushant was persuaded to reject the life-changing offer in favour of international project Paani, which Yash Raj Films was coincidentally producing. The actor was convinced to wait and Ranveer was placed onto the pathway to working with Bhansali on three surefire blockbusters. But like his hit debut, these films were destined for someone else.
Ranveer met his future wife Deepika Padukone, who starred in all three films opposite him, and became a huge star.
Meanwhile Paani was shelved, and what happened to Sushant in the years that followed is a very tragic story that has become part of Bollywood folklore.
Ranveer’s other releases Gunday, Kill Dill and Befikre were all commercially unsuccessful. Befikre became Aditya Chopra’s first failure as a director, and he hasn’t directed a movie since then.
Again, Ranbir was the first choice for Zoya Akhtar’s film Dil Dhadakne Do and like Band Baaja Baaraat, Ranveer stepped in as a replacement. The movie got decent enough reviews and box-office numbers, but was ultimately underwhelming.
Then Ranveer starrer Simmba became a huge success, but that was a remake of far superior Telugu blockbuster Temper. Gully Boy also became a critical and commercial hit, and like most of his previous films, Ranveer’s spirited performance was appreciated.
He had an extended cameo in hit film Sooryavanshi, reprising his Simmba role, but then went
on an unexpected Bollywood death spiral. From the subject matter to a lucrative Christmas release date, his film ’83 ticked every blockbuster box, but was a spectacular failure at the box office. There was a similar disastrous fate for his follow-up films Jayeshbhai Jordaar and Cirkus, with the latter being described by some as the worst in his career.
There are now whispers that the hat-trick of recent flops have cast doubt in the mind of producers planning future projects with the actor.
Away from films, Ranveer has got attention for his odd dress sense and being husband to Bollywood queen Deepika. In fact, the whacky outfits and his behaviour have arguably garnered as much attention for him as his work as an actor.
Ultimately, if you break down Ranveer’s career, it has been filled with failures and successes that were initially destined for others. There is no denying the fact that he is a good actor, but it doesn’t back up him being the big bankable movie star many think he is.
If Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani fails, it will be difficult to see what he does next. Producers
may push the movie back so it doesn’t clash with hotly anticipated sequel Ponniyin Selvan: II –which is set to come out on the same date – but that isn’t a good sign.
The actor needs to establish himself in the big league quickly, or will be seen as an also-ran.
POOJA’S PAIN WITH BOX-OFFICE FAILURES
TWELVE months ago, Pooja Hegde looked like becoming a huge pan-Indian star with the high-profile releases she had lined up in Tamil, Telugu, and Hindi opposite big-name leading men for 2022, but the opposite happened.
Her films Radhe Shyam, Acharya, Beast and Cirkus all badly underperformed at the box office,
which means that instead of reaching great heights, the actress is now on a downward spiral.
Her next film is the Eid release Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan opposite Salman Khan, but from first reports, that also looks like it will fail spectacularly.
MORE BOLLYWOOD NEPOTISM
THE scourge of nepotism in Bollywood isn’t going to end any time soon. Director Rajkumar Santoshi will launch his daughter Tanisha Santoshi in his new film Gandhi Godse Ek Yudh, which is set to be released next Tursday (26).
It will add to the number of newcomers who have got a cinema break instead of more talented aspirants because they are related to someone famous. If the poor standard of star children from recent years is anything to go by, then I don’t have high hopes for Tanisha.
ARJUN KAPOOR’S KUTTEY FLOP
BEFORE the release of Kuttey, I had written that a miracle might happen, and Bollywood flop star Arjun Kapoor could find himself in a successful movie. But being part of a decent cast and having a solid creative team couldn’t stop Kuttey from adding to his painfully long list of failures. Even with the obvious nepotism, I have now given up trying to figure out why such an unsuccessful actor keeps getting signed ahead of far more worthy talent, when his films constantly crash at the box office.
SONAM’S BLIND SPOT WITH FILM CHOICES
SHE might have had a few bright moments like Khoobsurat and Neerja, but Sonam Kapoor’s film career has largely been defined by bad choices. Despite being undeniably talented, she has regularly chosen dud projects.
A perfect example was opting to act in a Bollywood remake of 2011 South Korean film Blind,
with the same title. A Tamil version of the movie had already gone into production and was released first. Her version’s director had only previously worked as an assistant, and setting the story of a blind woman trying to catch a serial killer in Glasgow also didn’t make much sense.
Her last two films in 2019 failed, and Blind doesn’t seem to have turned out well because it hasn’t been able to get a theatrical release. Netflix was reportedly not interested which has led to it being dumped onto streaming site ZEE5.
NANJIANI STRIPS ROLE DOWN TO BARE BONES
RECENTLY premiered drama Welcome to Chippendales is well-worth watching. Kumail Nanjiani is brilliant as Somen ‘Steve’ Banerjee, who made millions after founding male strip group the Chippendales in the late 1970s, and then then went on a rollercoaster journey that led to multiple tragedies.
His terrific turn in the eight-episode Disney+ series is made more remarkable by the fact that the series is based on real events.
There was a planned Hollywood movie with Dev Patel playing the same role, but that will likely be shelved after Nanjiani’s career-best performance.
LIFTING ‘RAJPUT CURSE’ ON BOLLYWOOD
MULTIPLE people have interestingly pointed out that Bollywood seems to be cursed ever since Sushant Singh Rajput died on June 14, 2020.
Most Hindi films that have been released since his tragic death have been disasters and there has been a boycott movement that has held the entire industry’s feet to the fire. Maybe the superstitious Hindi film fraternity should use the late actor’s birth anniversary this week, on Saturday (21), to hold a prayer meet to lift the curse.
Better still, they can offer a bridge-building apology to the public who are still angered by the actor’s death, or make a promise to treat outsiders better.
But they will obviously do neither and can look forward to more pain at the box office. Sushant fans will keep reminding the industry about him, including on his birthday this week, and keep the curse alive.
RAJAMOULI WINS IN STYLE STAKES
WHETHER it is his brilliant blockbusters or the way he is breaking down barriers, there is a lot to love about ace writer-director SS Rajamouli.
One aspect that perhaps doesn’t get the credit it deserves is that he has nearly always worn traditional Indian outfits at the various international ceremonies, premieres and high-profile events. This includes the recent Golden Globes and Critics Choice awards, where his film won trophies.
It has endeared him to many people and shown his humble nature at a time when everyone is chasing after the global spotlight. It may not be a big deal to those in the west, but there are many millions in south Asia who feel like they are being seen and are inspired through this simple act.
SHYAMALAN’S BACK TO HIS BEST WITH NEW THRILLER
IF THE terrific trailer is anything to go by, then soon-to-be-released film Knock at the Cabin could be one of M Night Shyamalan’s best movies in a very long time.
The apocalyptic psychological horror revolves around strangers invading a cabin being occupied by a young girl and her parents, and asking them to make an impossible choice. As with previous films from the Hollywood director, who also wrote the screenplay, this drama promises to have plenty of twists, turns and unexpected surprises.
Those who can’t wait until its release on February 3 can see how things unfold by reading acclaimed 2018 novel The Cabin at the End of the World, which the film is based on.
Look out next week for Eastern Eye’s annual list of the 30 Under 30 Asian talent.
Veteran Indian cinematographer Peter Pereira has passed away at the age of 93. He is best remembered for shooting films like Mr India (1987), and was described by Abhishek Bachchan as one of the greatest.
British singer and rapper Fusion has released his new song Influencer, which has been produced by Kami K.
The good news is an Indian version of hit British drama series The Night Manager is set to be aired. The bad news is that Bollywood flop star Aditya Roy Kapur will play the lead role in it.
The internationally renowned Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in April will have an Asian flavour, with performances from Pakistani singer Ali Sethi, along with Indian sensation Diljit Dosanjh. The huge line-up of global music heavyweights also includes British pop star Charli XCX.
It was great seeing popular TV star Debattama Saha in the trailer of forthcoming film Shehzada, headlined by Kartik Aaryan and Kriti Sanon. The remake of 2020 Telugu film Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo is set to be in cinemas on February 10.