There are very few actors like Hrithik Roshan. In fact, in a little over a decade that he has been an actor he’s truly an exceptional and this observation goes beyond mere acting skills. In the history of Hindi cinema actors, especially stars, have been rarely been peerless and while everyone before and after him had compete with their contemporaries, Hrithik seems to be all alone when it comes to peers.
Every generation of stars in Hindi cinema had a bunch of them vying for space and attention. If Dilip Kumar shared the stage with a Raj Kapoor and Dev Anand in the 1950s, the next decade saw Rajendra Kumar, Manoj Kumar, and Shammi Kapoor battle it out. In the 1970s it was Rajesh Khanna versus Amitabah Bachchan versus the rest that included Vinod Khanna, Shatrughan Sinha, and Dharmendra and by the time the 1980s arrived Bachchan had Mithun Chakraborty and Jeetendra to outwit. The spotlight also oscillated between Anil Kapoor, Sunny Deol, and Jackie Shroff during the mid-1980s and by the time the Khans – Aamir, Salman and Shah Rukh arrived the focus went on a perpetual auto-rotation mode. The kind of frenzy that Hrithik’s debut created ensured that he’d be compared to the top draw of the time, Shah Rukh Khan, as opposed those who were technically his generation. Abhishek Bachchan’s foray into films happened during the time Roshan debuted with Kaho Na Pyaar Hai but barring a very exceptions like Dhoom or Bunty Aur Babli, there wasn’t any serious competition between the two. The year Roshan started off saw him in four roles that covered the entire gamut of emotions popular Hindi could imagine. His debut had him in a double role doing every single thing expected from a commercial Hindi cinema hero and then some. Khao Na Pyaar Hai’s Rohit and Raj had him singing, dancing, being funny, being romantic, being mysterious, fighting, saving the damsel in distress, playing the loveable poor boy, the poor little rich kid and much more. From that he went to Fiza where he played a misguided Muslim youth who takes to terrorism after witnessing communal riots and followed it up with Mission Kashmir where he again played a misguided Muslim youth only this time the setting was Kashmir.
It’s not like Roshan didn’t undergo the necessary rites of passage where he did meaningless films like Aap Mujhe Achche Lagne Lage, Na Tum Jaano Na Hum, Mujhse Dosti Karoge! in a single year but unlike Abhishek Bachchan, his closest equivalent in the manner of speaking, corrected his course without wasting much time. Roshan’s filmography shows just how selective he has been in picking up roles. Looking at Yaadein or Main Prem Ki Deewani Hoon or Lakshya and Kites the director or the scope of the role seem to his only yardsticks. Some might even think that more than anything Roshan simply plays it safe but compare his body of work to an Abhishek Bachchan and suddenly safe doesn’t seem so bad.
What makes Hrithik Roshan an exciting prospect to watch is the manner in which he approaches his roles. Usually the solo lead in films like Agneepath 2 or Guzaarish would roles that an actor would expect to concentrate on but even his smaller roles like Luck By Chance or the multi-starrer Zindagi Na Milegi Doobara are the ones where you see him shining. He’s one of the very actors who isn’t conscious of sharing space with someone else; now it might be a totally different thing that he chews up almost everyone who spars with him. What makes Hrithik Roshan a league of his own is that when you think of him you can’t bring to mind any other actor he could be perfectly substituted with and yes, that does make him number 1 in the field of one.
Hrithik Roshan turned 39 on 10 January 2013.
(The views expressed by the author are personal)
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