Hall Of Fame 6: 2002 Blues

Published On: 2012-08-16

Author: unknown

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2002 Blues

Source: Hall Of Fame

Article typed by Vanita

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2002 was the one-year which both Hrithik and his fans would like to forget for sure. Director Vikram Bhatt, who had made his presence felt in a few flicks on the trot, had assembled a team that many would have given their right arm for. Hrithik and Amisha, the super hit pair of KNPH, had been signed up for this film. Given Bhatt’s track record this one would be a hit and, perhaps end up being the film with which Hrithik would bounce back in the industry.

But alas, that did not happen, courtesy Bhatt’s muddled vision and weak script that ensured the film’s failure at the box office. A strange love story centering around the romance between a young man and a girl who happens to be the daughter of an underworld don, Aap Mujhe Acche Lagne Lage had nothing in it that would grip the masses. Two questions preoccupied the average viewer one he had seen the film. What had gone wrong with Vikram Bhatt, the man with the Midas touch? Why did Hrithik choose such a script and agree to play the hero?

Such questions had no answers, and what the web site had to say about the flick summed up the quality of the flick most aptly: “What marks the downfall of AMALL is the terrible performance by its lead actors. Amisha Patel, considered a fairly competent actress, turns in a howler with exaggerated mannerisms, affected dialogue delivery and heaving bosom. Quite inexplicably, Amisha wheezes through every teary sequence. She is especially terrible towards the climax.”

About the lead actor, the site noted: “Hrithik Roshan, one of Hindi cinema's biggest stars, is a letdown. His sinewy biceps and drop-dead looks don't salvage his nonexistent characterisation or lack of credible dialogues. “ As for Bhatt, this is that it said: “Director Vikram Bhatt's inconsistency takes you by surprise ge most. After the slick Ghulam [starring Aamir Khan and Rani Mukherji], the passable Kasoor [with Aftab Shivdasani and Lisa Ray], and the reasonably spooky Raaz, Bhatt comes up with a disaster. “ Disaster: that was the key word, the bottom line, the essence of the story. 

Bhatt’s tasteless turkey had managed to find very few buyers at the counters, and those who had essayed to consume a slice of this horridly prepared cinematic dish had been left with very bad tastes on their mouths. For the young actor who was still a huge star despite a few failures, this debacle was a reason for genuine concern. He had to get out of the flop trap, and convince the world around him that he had a lot more to deliver not only in terms of mere releases but also big successes that showcased his potential in a far more coherent and credible manner.

When will Hrithik Roshan get out of the mess that was pre occupying many, and the answer did not come with Na Tum Jano Na Hum directed by Arjun Shablok. The filmmaker who had worked with Yash Chopra earlier opted for Hrithik, and one of the major reasons was that he knew him very well. As he says “I’ve known Hrithik for the last 15 years, I’ve seen him grow in front of me. He was very shy, innocent, sweet, very alert and dedicated as a kid. He hasn’t changed at all since then. He’s still very shy and innocent and extremely hard working. And the funny thing is that he’s still so innocent and simple that you could fool him with a false story very easily and he would believe it. And when you tell him it’s not true, he just gives a very shy smile. He’s just like the character he played in Koi Mil Gaya, only he is not slow like Rohit in the film.”

Sablok has many stories to share about his film, and that includes why he chose Hrithik for the lead role. “When I was casting for my film Na Tum Jano Na Hum, I was looking for a character who had a boyish charm about him but was very strong at the same time. I needed a child-man so to say. And, I realized that Hrithik was one such man, if you look at his eyes, he comes across as a child. But if you look at his whole structure, he’s a very strong man. He has this combination of a child and a man and he seemed the right guy to cast in Na Tum Jano Na Hum.”

Like everyone else in the industry- practically- Sablok too is full of praise for his hard work and dedication. “Hrithik becomes too involved with the process of film making because he comes from a film family. Working with Hrithik inspires you because when he’s there, he’s your man and he’s with you 24/7 as an actor. He sits and checks his shots on the monitor, improvises and works on it. And he remembers each and every shot, take and retake three or four months later too. Like, once we were checking some takes for continuity and Hrithik wasn’t happy with the shot and he says, ‘Arjun I think we should include the third retake. It was looking much better.’ And this was like three months after we had shot! I couldn’t believe it.”

The filmmaker remembers one occasion when he actually experienced the hysteria of the masses when it came to Hrithik. ‘I remember once we were shooting in Pune and there was a huge crowd waiting to get a glimpse of Hrithik. So, when he came out of his van and waved to them, the entire crowd went into a frenzy shouting for him. it was like a Dolby sound system. The sound ascended simultaneously with his hands. My jaws dropped looking at the craze. I asked Hrithik to put his hands up again and again it happened and it was AWESOME! That was the first time I realized the magnitude of hysteria that he can create.

That he has no starry airs is a virtue most cant keep away from emphasizing on, Sablok is no different when he says: “On the sets he doesn’t behave like a star at all. He’s a most down-to-earth person. He comes and sits on the monitor and doesn’t need a special chair for himself. We never had a problem that oh my god, this is Hrithik Roshan and we need to get so and so things available for him.”

As an actor, one quality of his which need not word at all the time is Hrithik’s unquestioning faith once he reposes his confidence in a maker he is working with. “If Hrithik trust’s you, he’ll believe everything you say. Then he wont be finicky about how he wants the show. And if he hasn’t given a short properly, he won’t sulk about it and let the rest of the day be spoiled. He just forgets about it and carried on with the next shot, because he think s that its foolish to spoil ten shots at the cost of just one shot that you have given badly.

Sablok recollects a special moment that occurred during the shooting of the film in Canada with this unassuming star. “When we were shooting at Canada, we went to a mountain peak that was really high. Hrithik was standing on the top and I saw him from my helicopter and though ‘Man, it looks like he’s on the top of the world.’ And I prayed that he stays there forever. When we were having dinner that night, I asked him, ‘so, what did it feel like being there?’ and he smiled and said, ‘It felt like I was on the top of the world’. He picked up a rock from the mountain top and he has kept it in his bedroom and says. ‘This is my place, on top of the world!”

That he is a focused actor is something all speak about, and Sablok goes to the extent of admitting that Hrithik’s attention to details have changed him as a maker thoroughly. “He’s a completely dedicated actor. And he has completely spoilt me as a director. You just don’t have to work hard with him. When he’s acting he gives in a lot of input. So now when I have to work with the other actors, I have to work a lot harder and I tell Hrithik, ‘you have completely spoilt me!”

In the film, Hrithik’s co-star was Esha Deol, the daughter of legendry actors Dharmendra and Hema Malini. Sablok recollects what happened when Hrithik met Esha for the first time for the film. “When I was casting for Na Tum Jano Na Hum, I took Hrithik to Esha’s house to introduce them to each other. When I did introduce them, they both were blushing so much, like they were meeting each other to fix up marriage. I couldn’t decide who was pinker. Esha told Hrithik, ‘I think you are a fantastic dancer’. And Hrithik said, ‘No, I think you are a fantastic dancer.’ And when we left from there he told me, ‘God, she’s such a brilliant dancer, she’ll kill me in the film!”

That he is a modest guy is clear from what Sablok has to say. His other strengths? “Hrithik’s strength is that he’s very emotional, and has a feel for drama. One thing I also like about him is he’s keen towards discovering things. “A quest for exploring the novelties to understand life- in other words, acting- in a much better manner is a special quality that is so necessary to make a mark as an actor worth his salt. That Hrithik has this quality in abundance possibly explains why he is up there with the best in the industry today.

Back to the Sablok movie, however, what needs to be asserted is while some reviewers were kind to the film, it did not click at the box office, which is what matters the most. The film was a romance in the Yash Chopra mould and about Hrithik’s performance, a reviewer in the web site observed: He walks through the film with little effort. The role is certain not award worthy and neither is his performance, but he does do a nice job. Smiling all the way (crying much less than in AMALL, thankfully!), Hrithik proves that AMALL was just a bad film. He hasn’t earned the title of a good comedian but his presence is surely felt and is a pleasant surprise after his last dud.”

The same review didn’t trash the film completely either: “It seems that if the name like Yash Chopr, Karan Johar etc were attached to this project; the film would have probably been better accepted by the media and even more the audience. Since Sablok is just an old assistant, Na Tum Jano Na Hum faced a much bigger task in getting recognized for its few distinguishing qualities. Truthfully, Na Tum Jano Na Hum is certainly not a bad film.” What could have happened had a Yash Chopra or Karan Johar made the film is a matter of pure speculation though: and even if one were to keep in mind that Karan has a 100% record as far as successes at the box office are concerned. 

The only thing worth looking into, and with a lot of seriousness at that moment in time, was that Hrithik had failed to ensure that viewers gravitated towards the halls. Sorry, he had failed to do so once again. No matter how talented he was, who could have bet that Hrithik would be able to recreate the magic of KNPH once again? Very few, except maybe the actor himself whose confidence was shaken but not shattered, despite the media’s declaration that he had turned into a phoenix who could never ever rise from the ashes. Writers of epitaphs had finished out their quills to scribble with matter of fact seriousness that the phenomenon of yesterday did not have a tomorrow in the industry, that his future was as bleak as his past was bright. 

That theory would be endorsed once again, when debutante director Kunal kholi, who had made a mark by making popular music videos, ventured towards a big screen project with Mujhse Dosti Karoge. Young and full of zeal, Kunal was not at all perturbed by Hrithik’s failures at the box office a few days before the film was being released. Around the time the film was about to hit the marquee, he told the website that an actors should not be judged by a couple of failures and also that Hrithik was not only the biggest star at that point in time but would continue to be one for years to come. 

But Kohli’s film that promised a lot because of the hype that surrounded its release fell flat on its face a few days after its release. The web site carried what was one of the most acerbic reviews of the film. It said: “Mujhse Dosti Karoge has all the gloss and glitz that one associates with the Yash Chopra banner but that cannot hide either the spectacular vacuity of the film’s stale plot or the inescapable fact that Kunal Kohli, the writer-director of this soggy piece of candy floss, is in desperate need of a crash course in filmmaking. Wee pals Karan Johar and Adi Chopra looking the other way when Kohli was at work?”

The review went on to ass: “The actors certainly were not their fault given Kohli’s utterly listless script. Its littered with lines so corny that it hurts. Raj (Hrithik Roshan), Pooja (Rani Mukherji) and Tina (Kareena Kapoor) are childhood buddies in Shimla. They are separated when Raj’s father migrates to London. Raj has a soft corner for Tina and asks her to stay on tough through e-mails. Tina has no patience for such niceties, so Pooja pretends to be Tina and exchanges e-mails with Raj. Love blossoms.”

While discussing thing boringly predictable flick, it was not at all kind to the protagonist either: “Hrithik Roshan looks as prim and proper as Aishwarya Rai would if she were to ramp-walk again, Kareena Kapoor cant decide whether she wants to ape Shah Rukh Khan or look like Britney Spears and Rani Mukherjee can only make attempts to survey the ruin around her. Her lack of inches comes in the way. “

So, the conclusion? The review said “Mujhse Dosti Karoge is so fatuously fluffy that the only moments of genuine joy it offers are during a medley of old Hindi film songs enacted by the films characters late in the second half. Sadly, it is rather likely that your interest in MDK will last that long.”

This is the around the period in which the media went on a Hrithik bashing spree to conclude that his tottering career might just have reached a climax that mo one would have dreamt of couple of years ago. Showtime used just one word on its cover to indicate the direction in which Hrithik’s career was headed. The word, well, was FINISHED. The cover stated in no uncertain terms; “As the disastrous fate of his recent movies point out, the crowds have literally diminished. There is a virtual panic situation within the Roshan camp. And its not been an overnight occurrence certainly- the signs were there for everyone to see in the last few months. Sometime back, Hrithik attended an event at a prominent music store at Mumbai; even the local photographers were shocked by the number of onlookers present. What happened to the Hrithik Mania? More recently, when a TV channel had a repeat telecast of Hrithik’s only major concert, it simply went unnoticed.”

Analyzing the decline of Hrithik-Mania, the article went on to question: “So what is it really? Does the audience suffer from Hrithik fatigue? Has there been too much of the actor too soon? Or has the young man just not been able to deliver what was expected of him? Truth of the matter is that Hrithik Mania has ended. And despite all the excuses and the justifications, the lost hysteria will never return. And the sooner the Roshans come to terms with this fact, the better.”

No star has been pedestralized the way Hrithik had been after the release of just one film in which he played the hero. And no star had been brutalized by not just the film journalists but also the main stream media the way Hrithik had been. The weekly magazine outlook came up with a description that could have worried any star in Hrithik’s place: “The smoldering green eyes now leave you cold, the cleft chin seems a bit too sharp, that noble nose looks a wee too pointed, the muscles provoke ennui, the dancing we have seen before and the six fingers in that famous hand aren’t proving lucky anymore.”

India today, the other leading weekly, went thus: “With a succession of suds, the question being asked is: is Hrithik Roshan a one-trick pony?” The Week that happens to be the third major weekly publication arrived at its own conclusions: “Perhaps Hrithik never tried to mould his image. His dance steps looks repetitive, his clothes look similar, and his expressions and the intensity in his eyes are much the same.”

Columnist Jerry Pinto observed in Sunday Mid Day: “Hrithik Roshan looks dated. This is partly because that is the way the fortune cookie had crumbled for a hundred little boys who were launched in chocolates box collections.” Pinto went to the extent of saying: “Hrithik cannot act. His comic timing is terrible. His emotional scenes are syrupy with the cliché of the wet eye and the clenched jaw. His directors seem to be relying on his pectorals and his pelvis; the size of the former and the flexibility of the latter. While these were definitely assets in KNPH, they have lost their novelty value.”

Papa Roshan who was obviously taken aback by his son’s debacles told Sunday Mid Day: “There are good filmmakers and there are your usual directors who will only capitalize on something that is successful and give it to the audience again and again. A good filmmaker would bring out something different from his actors, something that would surprise the audience. “ Yet Showtime sources were privy to the information that a huge portion of NTJNH had been re-shot by the father himself. The end result, however, was a complete fiasco that led to nothing except non-existent queues in front of ticket counters in cinema halls across the country. 

Whether or not the audience’s love for Hrithik had decline is debatable. But the fact that the media had lost interest in his works was summarized by The Hindustan Times that noted in a scornful manner: “Would someone tell Hrithik not to hog the screen with his close shots with distorted facial expressions in the name of acting?”

Never mind, Rakesh Roshan insisted time and again that the young actor had signed all his films before KNPH turned him into a huge phenomenon. The very same media that had once called him a superstar was not branding the actor as a super flop who could never make a comeback. That Hrithik had lost out to Shah Rukh Khan is what the papers stated. That he would be a dinosaur soon was what the average film journalist felt.

During the period, the actor was getting used to constant negative reactions for his performances. But he responded to these phenomena in an unruffled manner to G Magazine: “I don’t believe in good periods and bad periods. I believe that good films so well while bad films don’t. When I sign a film, I believe in it. I strive to do my best. But the audience is the final judge. It they say it is bad, it is bad. If my flops were a reflection of my talent, it would hurt. But I have been lucky. My work has been appreciated even in my worst flops. No one ever pointed a finger at me and said that the film did not work because of me.”

The media’s militancy as it indicated the possibility of a bleak future ahead was there to be seen: and read. But Hrithik claimed to find the development most amusing as he reacted to Showtime’s criticism in no uncertain terms: “Last year, one magazine put me on the cover with a single word: Finished! That issue sold out so they again carried me on their next cover. That really entertained me. If I were truly finished, the magazine would not have given me so much importance. I was chose from the entire lot of film stars to be put on the cover of the mag. Since it was the bread and butter for the employees of that mag, I was happy enough. It’s such an irony really. You are saying I am finished but you put me on the cover repeatedly knowing that the face sells. Once you understand this paradox, it makes you laugh. “ While saying what he did, was Hrithik absolutely relaxed with his state of being?

No matter what he might have said, the fact that the media had written him off with reasons to back its perspective during that point in time was bothering the actor for sure. Few questioned his talent, but he had failed to deliver at the box office, which is what mattered. Why his films had flopped was inconsequential. The fact that they had was the real issue. 

A couple of years later, would it be right to say that the press had been presumptuous? Or should one assert that perhaps Hrithik’s succession of failures had given the media enough reason to believe that he was well and truly finished? Both the perspectives sound logical in their own diverse ways, there is not denying the truth that Hrithik did come across as a kind who had been crowned ahead of time, infact so quickly that he had lost sight of his kingdom for a long time. 

Now was the time when he had to make an impact. He did not have a choice. To prove his fans right and his critics wrong, he had to come up with something truly special. Just a good film would not have been enough. What he needed was a minor classic.