After the unsuccessful Agent Vinod, actor Saif Ali Khan will soon be back with Homi Adajania’s romantic-comedy Cocktail, the genre he has had the most success with.
Incidentally, most of Bollywood’s leading men seem to be following a similar trend. Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Ajay Devgn and Akshay Kumar too seem to be returning to the genres that were responsible for their initial stardom.
Saif Ali Khan: The rom-com mascot
Debut: Parampara (1992)
The journey begins: Saif’s first big hit came with Yeh Dillagi in 1994. Then it all went downhill with Aao Pyaar Karen (1994), Surakshaa (1995) and Tu Chor Main Sipahi (1996). His only success during the period came with multi-starrers like Main Khiladi Tu Anari (1994), Imtihaan (1995) and Hum Saath Saath Hain (1999).
Turning point: Saif returned in a new avatar with Dil Chahta Hai (2001). He returned to rom-coms with Kal Ho Na Ho (2003), Hum Tum (2004) and Salaam Namaste (2005). Saif stepped out of his comfort zone with varying degrees of success, with films as diverse as the psychological thriller Being Cyrus (2005), adrenaline-driven Race (2008), the Othello adaptation Omkara (2006), the socio-political Aarakshan (2011) and desi Bond movie Agent Vinod (2012). His next big solo hit again came with rom-com Love Aaj Kal (2009).
Debut: Saugandh (1991)
The journey begins: Akshay Kumar started his career with action films. He was known for his Khiladi series — Khiladi (1992), Main Khiladi Tu Anari (1994), Sabse Bada Khiladi (1995), Khiladiyon Ka Khiladi (1996), Mr. And Mrs. Khiladi (1997), International Khiladi (1999), and Khiladi 420 (2000).
Turning point: Khiladiyon Ka Khiladi earned Akshay, the ‘raw action hero’ tag. The film was followed by action movies like Sapoot (1996), Insaaf (1997), Daava (1997) and Tarazu (1997). None of them worked as well as the Khiladi series. Then with films like Hera Pheri (2000), Mujhse Shaadi Karogi (2004) and Garam Masala (2005), he gained popularity as a comic hero. In 2007-2008, he delivered five big hits including Namastey London, Welcome and Singh Is King.
Comeback: Rowdy Rathore, Khiladi 786
Ajay Devgn: The raw action hero
Debut: Phool Aur Kaante (1991)
The journey begins: He started off as a rugged action hero with films like Jigar (1992), Dilwale (1994), Suhaag (1994), Naajayaz (1995), Diljale (1996), Sangram (1993) and Vijaypath (1994). Till 1998, Ajay continued doing action films — Hulchul (1995), Gundaraj (1995), Haqeeqat (1995), Jung (1996) and Jaan (1996).
Turning point: In 1998, Ajay acted in offbeat films like Zakhm (1998), Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999) and Kachche Dhaage (1999). In the early 2000s, he starred in Lajja (2001), Company (2002) and The Legend Of Bhagat Singh (2003). Towards the end of the 2000s, Ajay dabbled in comic roles with the Golmaal series and All the Best: Fun Begins (2009). In 2011, he returned to his forte with the Singham (2011).
Comeback: Singham, Himmatwala
Shah Rukh Khan: The king of romance
Debut: Deewana (1992)
The journey begins: He started off as the boy-next-door in Deewana, followed by a string of flops like Maya Memsaab (1993), Guddu (1995) and King Uncle (1993). Then, he did several negative characters in films like Darr (1993) and Baazigar (1993).
Turning point: King Khan’s big moment came with Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995). The romantic hero was born. The image became stronger with Dil To Pagal Hai (1997) and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998). Then came Mohabbatein in 2000 followed by Devdas (2002), Kal Ho Na Ho (2003) and Veer Zara (2004). Now, after playing hockey coach, gangster and superhero in Chak De India!, Don and Ra.One respectively, SRK is back to romantic films in picturesque locations with Yash Chopra’s next.
Comeback: Yash Chopra’s yet-untitled film
Salman Khan: Bollywood’s resident Prem
Debut film: Biwi Ho To Aisi (1988)
The journey begins: Salman’s first leading role was in Sooraj Barjatya’s blockbuster Maine Pyar Kiya (1989) as Prem became the boy every girl wanted to meet. Later, he went on to act in several hits like Baaghi (1990), Patthar Ke Phool (1991), Kurbaan (1991), Love (1991) and Sanam Bewafa (1991).
Turning point: Salman’s return as Prem, again in a Barjatya film, saw Hum Aapke Hain Koun..! (1994) become a blockbuster hit. He went on to work in multi-starrers like Karan Arjun (1995), Jeet (1996) and Auzaar (1997). In 1999, he was again cast as Prem in Hum Saath-Saath Hain (1997). Next, Salman went into action and comedy with films like No Entry (2005), Mujhse Shaadi Karogi (2004), Partner (2007, again as Prem), Wanted (2009), Dabangg (2010), Bodyguard (2011) and Ready (2011).
Comeback: Sooraj Barjatya’s Bade Bhaiya in which he will play Prem yet again.