He is being dubbed as the true Kapoor scion post Raajneeti. After playing a chocolate boy, a spoilt brat and a salesman, Ranbir Kapoor has now stunned all as the ruthless manipulator a la Michael Corleone in The Godfather.
Audiences and critics are applauding his role as Samar Pratap Singh in Prakash Jha's dark political thriller that is in a sense inspired by the Indian epic Mahabharata.
"Ranbir is fabulous in Raajneeti... He has a natural talent for acting. His screen presence is strong and engaging and he interacts very well with the camera. The best part about Ranbir is that he has no artifice," film critic Anupama Chopra told IANS.
"He is young and should do every role - from that of a psycho man, romantic hero, action star, negative roles, everything," she added.
When Ranbir, 27, made his debut with Sanjay Leela Bhansali's dud Saawariya in 2007, very few imagined he would climb the success ladder in no time and exhibit the potential to carry a complex role like Samar with aplomb.
"Ranbir is a surprise in Raajneeti. He holds his own in the film despite having stalwarts like Nana Patekar and Ajay Devgn. He certainly reminds you of Michael Corleone (played by Al Pacino) in The Godfather," said a film buff.
His transformation from an apolitical, foreign returned, out of the family business boy to a scheming political animal under the umbrella of Nana, much like the character of Arjuna under Lord Krishna's wing in the Mahabharata, has pushed the actor's radar.
"He is actually the backbone of Raajneeti. He brings a reined-in, steel-edged ruthlessness to his character. For sure there is no other actor from his generation who could have played this character," said critic Subhash K. Jha in his review.
Another film critic, Omar Qureshi, claims the young actor has exhibited his talent since his first movie and scribes have highlighted it off and on in their writeups.
"If one looks at Ranbir's career graph and pulls out any review, he has always been praised universally. He takes a very intelligent choice of script whether that is of a goofy romantic in 'Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani', an unconventional pairing, a coming of age story in 'Wake Up Sid' or a grey character in 'Raajneeti'," said Qureshi. "He is here to stay. He is the future," he added.
Ranbir's debut vehicle, "Saawariya", turned out to be a damp squib, but he tasted success with his second release - Siddharth Anand's 2008 romantic comedy "Bachna Ae Haseeno" where he romanced Bipasha Basu, Minissha Lamba and Deepika Padukone.
In the following year, he struck gold with Ayan Mukerji's "Wake Up Sid". Set in the contemporary milieu, the film had an unconventional pairing of Ranbir and Konkona Sen Sharma, but the story as well as the lead pair was loved and appreciated.
The same year he delivered another moderate hit, "Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani", where he teamed up with Bollywood's most sought after actress Katrina Kaif.
Three years in the industry, six releases to his credit, Ranbir has proved himself to be the true scion of the Kapoor family that boasts of stalwarts like his great grandfather Prithviraj Kapoor, grand dad Raj Kapoor and father Rishi Kapoor.
But Ranbir is taking the praises with a pinch of salt.
"I am too new to have an image and I really don't care for it also. All I am doing is working in good stories, with good filmmakers, playing interesting characters and then leaving it for the audience. There is no plan in my head; so I am just going with the flow and enjoying the journey," he told IANS.
Not many know that before venturing into acting, he worked as an assistant director on Bhansali's "Black" (2005) and is now also planning to revive his home banner - RK Studios - with uncle Randhir Kapoor.
Ranbir's future projects include Anand's "Anjaana Anjaani" opposite Priyanka Chopra and Imtiaz Ali's long-awaited "Rockstar". Also, he will be seen playing the legendary singer Kishore Kumar in a biopic by Anurag Basu.
(Robin Bansal can be contacted at email@example.com)