Ayushmann Khurrana, Rajkummar Rao and more: The common man disrupting Bollywood’s narrative of the hero
Films like Bareilly Ki Barfi, Vicky Donor, Judgementall Hai Kya, Masaan, among several others, have opened way for experimental cinema to sustain at the box office.Updated: Sep 22, 2019 14:57 IST
Shah Rukh Khan famously said in Rohit Shetty’s Chennai Express, “Don’t underestimate the power of the common man” and Bollywood seems to have taken the line quite seriously. The “aam aadmi” is indeed the hero of the Hindi silver screen, with the larger-than-life hero slowly fading out.
It is an important and much-needed change , and it has been happening over the recent past. The Bollywood hero is now in the mood to be human. He is still an important ingredient of a film -- but he is as important as any other character in a script. Even hero-centric projects have by and large stopped treating the heroine as nothing but an object of glamour.
The scenario has spawned of a breed of Bollywood heroes. They are the disruptors in the game. Ayushmann Khurrana, Ranveer Singh, Vicky Kaushal and Rajkummar Rao are actors who chose to move away from the conventional hero’s image and yet have struck a balance between thriving critically and commercially.
Barring Ranveer Singh, the common factor defining all of the above is that they have never banked on machismo for hits. And though Ranveer is not hesitant to strut the six-pack on the odd occasion, he, like all of the others mentioned above, is an actor who primarily banks on unconventional roles to woo the crowds.
Ayushmann made his Bollywood debut in 2012 with Vicky Donor and has managed to play the average Indian guy ever since and has portrayed the same, earning awards as well as a place in every Indian’s heart in the process. Not just films, he has not shied away from experimenting with looks and characters. His experimental streak within the commercial set-up continues with his latest, Dream Girl.
Similarly, Rajkummar Rao has played a myriad of characters that are as different as chalk and cheese. Be it the dominating Vijay from Queen, the rookie election clerk Nutan Kumar in Newton, Shaurya in Trapped or the flaky Keshav in JudgeMentall Hai Kya, Rajkummar has never failed to surprise the audience. He has carved a niche for himself in just eight years in Hindi cinema and has never shied away from saying that he enjoys being an “unconventional hero” in Bollywood.
In an interview to IANS last year, he had said: “What’s the fun in doing conventional things? I would rather be known as someone who is unconventional. I like being unconventional. I like doing things which are different. That’s what I like... It gives me a boost as an actor.”
The point to note is not that actors like Ayushmann or Rajkummar -- or Vicky Kaushal -- are experimenting and their experiments are working at the box-office.
The super-talented Vicky Kaushal’s performance as Deepak in the critically acclaimed Masaan and Kamli in Sanju struck the right chords with the audience. He has been scoring with films like Raazi, Manmarziyaan and the career-defining blockbuster Uri: The Surgical Strike. Asked if he feels pressure with so many hopes riding on him, Vicky had earlier said: “It is a pressure that I am craving for and I have been wanting.”
Actor Ranveer Singh, the new superstar in town, has made it clear that he means only business when it comes to entertaining the audience. From the rawness of a typical Indian boy Bittoo in his debut film Band Baaja Baaraat to the vicious Alauddin Khilji from Padmaavat , Ranveer has changed the gameplan of the Hindi cinema. Over his nine year run, Ranveer just has faced only one failure in recent times with the romantic drama Befikre.
Clearly, the realistic actor is the new superstar, and this is a fact that even the superstars are realising. The one to have cashed in on the trend better than others among the established superstars is Akshay Kumar. Bollywood’s Khiladi Kumar, who started as an out-and-out actioners, and later dabbled with comedy in like Hera Pheri, Bhagam Bhaag, Welcome, Singh Is Kinng and Housefull, is, today a National Award-winning actor who balances well between substance and success.
The 51-year-old superstar branched out to play the common Indian man in movies such as PadMan, Special 26, Jolly LLB 2, Holiday, Baby, Airlift and Rustom. The last won him a National Award.
Bollywood seems to be taking the uncommon topic of the house of “commons” to take it forward from here. The industry has entered its age of the disruptors. The unconventional hero is here to stay.
(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)
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First Published: Sep 22, 2019 14:57 IST