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A star and an actor: The importance of being Ranbir Kapoor

Ranbir Kapoor, who celebrates his birthday today, is a Kapoor scion and a deserving candidate to be the rightful heir of its rich legacy.

bollywood Updated: Sep 28, 2018 17:56 IST
Nivedita Mishra
Nivedita Mishra
Hindustan Times
Happy Birthday Ranbir Kapoor,Birthday of Ranbir Kapoor,Ranbir Kapoor Birthday Celebration
Ranbir Kapoor celebrated his 36th birthday on Friday.(IANS)

To be a member of the Kapoor khandaan of Bollywood is to be privileged in more ways than one. Hailing from the first family of Bollywood, one inherits genes, an industry network and a name that is often mentioned as the industry’s most privileged, and one which draws producers like a magnet. If in the past, this privilege would have passed of as a sense of entitlement, today it could well fall under the ambit of nepotism. The good news is Ranbir Kapoor, as a scion of the Kapoor family, pretty much agrees that he is ‘entitled’.

Ranbir has, in fact, on an earlier occasion described himself “disarming product of nepotism”. However, he also believes that his great grandfather worked really hard to create a platform and his descendants have reaped its benefits and that benefit helps only with one’s first film. Post that, talent is only thing that counts.

Which then brings us to the question: does Ranbir have it in him to be counted as a talented actor despite being from an influential family?

As the grandson of Raj Kapoor, great grandson of Prithviraj Kapoor, grand nephew of Shashi Kapoor and Shammi Kapoor, Ranbir has had both the opportunities and immense pressure. His parents, Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh, too were competent actors in their time. While his other relatives like uncle Randhir and aunt Babita too gave films a shot, the success of his cousins, Karisma Kapoor and later Kareena Kapoor, must also play on his mind.

Rajiv Kapoor, Randhir Kapoor and Ranbir Kapoor bid adieu to Lord Ganesha in Mumbai on Sept 23, 2018. (IANS)

Thing with the Kapoors is that they have it both ways — they have seen phenomenal commercial success (brand Raj Kapoor is proof of it) with his showman style of filmmaking while actors like Shashi Kapoor were among the pioneers of realistic cinema in India, despite having a long and fruitful career as a commercial Bollywood star.

Hence, for Ranbir choosing an acting career must have been both a natural progression coupled with a phenomenal weight of expectations. Ranbir made his debut back in 2007 and in these many years, he has had his big highs as well abysmal lows. However, despite a chequered career, one can say with confidence that he is here to stay and perhaps is the best person to carry forward the Kapoor legacy.

Image maker and image breaker
Like all successful Hindi film actors, Ranbir too has an image — he’s urbane, romantic, flirty and good at charming women. In films like Bachna Ae Haseeno, Ranbir stuck to formula. He plays characters who have problems but still fall within the ambit of mainstream hero’s emotional arc, who is a romantic and will invariably come around. With films like Yeh Jaawani Hai Deewani, he adds to the formula—woos his woman, sings and dances, like a pucca star.

Yet, Ranbir has always had it him to go where stars usually don’t — with Barfi! he chose to play an affable speech and hearing impaired man, who is in love with two women. As Murphy Johnson, Ranbir was absolutely believable in his conflicted but tramp-like lover act. In fact, his very first film, Saawariya, was a homage to his grandfather’s Mera Naam Joker. Sadly, it sank. The thing with Ranbir is that he can be the Bollywood star who has no qualms about breaking the rules of the game every now and then.

Ranbir Kapoor with his mother Neetu Kapoor and filmmaker Ayan Mukerji. (IANS)

Even in his films that have been no-show at the box office, Ranbir has shown the stamina and hunger to do things differently. His films Jagga Jasoos (appreciated for its bold attempt at story telling), Bombay Velvet (applauded for its sensibilities and its authenticity) and Rocket Singh (a very mature performance in a believable slice-of-life film) stood out despite being duds at the box office.

A star and an actor
In many ways, Ranbir is cast in the same dye as star-actors of yore such as Dilip Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan and Madhuri Dixit to name a few. Like them, his name has a massive recall value, but unlike them he doesn’t carry the burden of an image. In this aspect, he is quite like Aamir Khan and can transform into the character he essays. Cases could be films like Rockstar and more recently, Sanju. Rockstar’s Jordan remains one of his most inspired performances and he perfected this skill with Sanju — it is quite amazing how he caught every nuance of Sanjay Dutt’s personality and mannerisms while still capturing the conflicts and emotional complexity like a pro. In fact, his work in Rajneeti, where his character has shades of Mahabharata’s Arjuna and Godfather’s Michael Corleone, Ranbir was a delight to watch as an heir of a prominent dynasty in the jigsaw puzzle of Indian politics.

The song-and-dance and comic star
No matter how well you act, in Bollywood success has always means an ability to entertain. And Ranbir can do both. While Hrithik Roshan and Tiger Shroff enjoy the enviable tag of being industry’s best dancers, Ranbir too is a rather conpetent dancer himself. Don’t believe us? Watch him in Badtameez Dil from Yeh Dil Hai Mushkil.

Ranbir has an amazing comic timing too. If Barfi! amply showcased it (particularly his scenes with Saurabh Shukla), Sanju ensured that we accept it as gospel truth. Have doubts? We recommend you watch his scenes with his best bud in America, played by Vicky Kaushal, in Sanju. In fact, Sanju was heavily criticised for its direction and writing (many felt it meant to be a sympathy-garnering vehicle for Dutt) but critics were unanimous in applauding Ranbir’s performance.

With his immense talent and star quality, Rannbir is perfectly positioned to carry forward the legacy of his name. Perhaps, it would be unfair not to name another Kapoor who is keeping the family name flying high and it has to be Kareena Kapoor Khan. Having said so, the tag of Kapoor heir firmly belongs to Ranbir Kapoor.

Author tweets @mniveditatweets

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First Published: Sep 28, 2018 17:55 IST