On Ranbir Kapoor’s birthday, we defend 3 of his biggest flops: Rocket Singh, Jagga Jasoos, Bombay Velvet
Ranbir Kapoor turned 35 on Thursday, and to celebrate his birthday, we decided to defend three of his biggest flops - Rocket Singh, Bombay Velvet and Jagga Jasoos. The reception these films received upon release ranged from middling to negative, which turned away audiences. While there are other flops in his filmography, these three deserve a second chance.
Jagga Jasoos (2017)
One of the rare Bollywood musicals, Jagga Jasoos is truly ‘cinematic’. It’s smart and inspires you to think in a particular way. No doubt, director Anurag Basu has been inspired from Tintin and Sherlock Holmes, but he has created a world exclusive to Indian children. It takes us to our childhoods when we dreamt of solving puzzles beyond our capacity, and fantasy wasn’t restricted by any physical boundaries.
The true success of any such film lies in its power to make the audience a part of the story. Jagga’s riddles entice us to be a part of his journey. See, Jagga Jasoos isn’t a traditional film that would mean what is shown on the screen. It goes much beneath the outer layer. The more you peel off, the more you realise the hidden ideas.
It’s long but enjoyable. I don’t want to take the conventional route here and say it comments on social evils because that would be underestimating its impact. Most of the good directors try to get as close as possible to their vision. Basu replaces his vision with dream-like situations and goes beyond his limits to express that on the screen. Ranbir Kapoor is his vehicle.
Jagga Jasoos shouldn’t be judged on the basis of its three act structure. It’s more than just a grammatically correct film. It’s dream come true, literally.
Bombay Velvet (2015)
Bombay Velvet is Ranbir’s biggest flop, simply on the basis of how much money it lost. The film, made on a budget of Rs 120 crore, could only manage Rs 40 crore at the box office.
Ranbir has often been compared to Robert De Niro, and without going too deep into whether or not he justifies the comparison, Bombay Velvet game him an opportunity to play the sort of character that has long been synonymous with De Niro - the intense loner, a damaged young man with terrifying rage buried within his soul.
In Anurag Kashyap’s lavish ode to James Ellroy’s LA Quartet - a series of four novels set in an around Los Angeles - he plays a small-time crook who rises up the ranks of a criminal organisation. It’s a classic set-up, but that’s what it’s meant to be.
While most of the criticism directed at it called the film’s script unoriginal and the romantic subplot heavy handed, there’s a reason behind that. It’s a homage to a very particular kind of movie - the American gangster films of the ‘40s and ‘50s. Even Ranbir’s performance draws heavily from Al Pacino and of course, De Niro. So if the movie seems reminiscent of older film, it’s on purpose. And then, there’s the attention to detail and the sort of music most producers would warn against having in your film. Bombay Velvet is a noble failure - one that deserves to be revisited without prejudice.
Rocket Singh (2009)
This film came out when Ranbir Kapoor was a mere boy, a lot like his wide-eyed character in Rocket Singh Salesman of the Year. His Harpreet Singh struggled through school and college but now he is ready to sell. And he wants to do it with his morals intact. His story ends as it should in a world still dealing with global financial crisis, the film released in 2009, rightly chalked up to greed.
Only Rocket Singh and his scruples are not ready to give up. He sets up his own company based on friendship, faith and the dictum that customer is god. Shorn of spectacle and beautifully understated, the film captured the middle-class life in India, warts and all. Maybe it was “too much reality – a complaint that Indian films, good ones, still fall prey too – or maybe it was the sluggish pacing but Ranbir Kapoor’s sincere attempt took it a long way. Whether it was the trite lines or the aim to present Ranbir as some sort of desi Jerry Maguire, the film – even the critics accepted – established the boy as an actor. He was already a star.
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