Hall of Fame 7-The Grand Resurrection

Published On: 2012-08-21

Author: unknown

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2003 The Grand Resurrection

Source: Hall of Fame
Typed by Vanita

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More than a decade ago, director Sooraj Barjatya had turned into a brand name when he made Maine Pyaar Kiya that had turned Salman Khan into a superstar to reckon with. Years later, the filmmaker chose to change tracks because, instead of having Salman as the hero, his forthcoming film Main Prem Ki Deewani Hoon had Hrithik as the main star along with Kareena Kapoor and Abhishek Bachchan.

Before the film was being released, the actor was hugely upbeat about its chances. Said he: “The fact that MPKDH is directed by Mr. Sooraj Barjatya sets it apart from the other films, you will know what I am talking about. His film takes on a different level of energy and the characters are so full of life.”

Barjatya and his production Rajshris had come up with the same name for Salman’s character in the three consecutive films. He was called Prem in Maine Pyaar Kiya, Hum Aapke Hain Kaun and Hum Saath Saath Hain. Hrithik’s character was also called Prem in MPKDH, but this is what the hero had to say about its on screen interpretation: “The Prem I am playing is poles apart from the Prem Mr. Barjatya created in MPK, HAHK and HSSH. Salman has always portrayed Prem as this shy, and loveable guy, as someone who is aware of his charm. This time, Prem is loud and full of life.” The stories doing the rounds suggested that the Rajshirs, who are known for making family films without any kind of ‘bold’ material, had chosen to move on with the times and come up with a film that was a departure from its predecessors in terms of content, treatment and presentation. Perhaps, Barjatya wanted his critics to believe that the click in the Rajshri office didn’t have static plans and was ticking along with its counterparts elsewhere.

Actress Himani Shivpuri acted with Hrithik in this Rajshri venture, and she had loads of affection-tinged memories of him: “He’s a very sweet boy. Polite to everyone on the sets, he shared a great camaraderie with Abhishek and Kareena. Whether it was the director or the spot boy, Hrithik had no airs while interacting with him.”

Himani describes his approach to acting more succinctly: “He comes from the school of acting where spontaneity is supported by plenty of homework. He literally slogs to try perfecting his expressions, delivery and diction.” She also refers to an incident that occurred when she was shooting with the young superstar: “Once while shooting with him in New Zealand, I did not see a pedestrian chain and went sprawling on the ground. Before I could gather myself Hrithik had come charging down. Within a flash, he picked me up and said ‘Are you okay?’ I said ‘Yes’. He said ‘Are you sure?’ Courteous and respectful to the core, Hrithik is not only a great actor, but a great human being as well!”

Compliments to anybody are usually most welcome, but what Hrithik needed to do was silence his critics. This did not happen, not this time atleast. After the film was finally released, the verdict came out in the open very soon. It had flopped putting a question mark next to the names of three people: Hrithik who needed a hit badly, Kareena who was also sailing in the same boat, and Abhishek whose talent was unquestionable yet who had no been able to deliver a single box office success in his entire career.

A web site reviewer of came up with a short but incisive summary-cum analysis of the film: “A small-time book publisher gets a call from his married older daughter informing him that Prem Kumar, a millionaire businessman and acquaintance, will be visiting their town Sundernagar soon. Hearing that he’s single and highly eligible, the publishers wife plans breakfast, lunch and dinner meetings in an effort to arrange a match for the younger daughter Sanjana (Kareena Kapoor)- who, as it happens, refuses to go along with her plotting mother’s shenanigans. Prem (Hrithik Roshan), meanwhile arrives in the town and is subjected to some elaborate hospitality. After horseback riding, some river rafting, and a little deep sea diving, Prem has woven a web around a now-willing Sanjana”

The review went on to state: “But just as the parents begin to hear wedding bells, news arrives that this Prem is only a namesake, and that the moneyed Prem (Abhishek Bachchan) is scheduled to arrive shortly after an unexpected detour. Director Sooraj Barjatya paints the good guys in broad strokes and types the rest as buffoons: It’s the most one-dimensional sort of characterization you can imagine. But if you’re able to believe that New Zealand is bumpkin land Sundernagar, and that some people are saccharine-sweet, then this might be your brand of escapism.”

While conjuring up realistic dreams is a part and parcel of making flicks in the mainstream genre, the facts remain that the film had not worked at the box office and also that Hrithik had to bear the brunt of criticism. Trade analyst Komal Nahta observed: “Hrithik Roshan overacts in many scenes. His performance is marred by his over-enthusiasm. The feeling one gets is that he is trying too hard to impress. There is not subtlety in his performance except in the couple of emotional scenes.” Khalid Mohammed who had directed Hrithik in Fiza remarked that the actor had gone “extra-ballistic.”

However nobody blamed Hrithik entirely for the films failure: the right thing to do because the movie is after all the director’s medium. As Nahta said: “Part of the blame for Hrithik’s poor show should go to the director who should have kept him in check. A well-known filmmaker who knows Hrithik from close quarters lamented: “This is the last straw,” while a producer who also spoke under the condition of anonymity, affirmed: “He will have to reduce his price by more than half after such a sad show.” The signs of the time were very clear. What Hrithik needed most urgently was a film to ensure that he did not come under the spell of a total eclipse into oblivion.

In an interview to the India Abroad News Service, Hrithik was to introspect not much later: “In hindsight, I feel the audience at which MPKDH was targeted has moved on. It no longer exists. But I stand by the film and performance. My aim was to do what the director told me. Sooraj Barjatya had the character completely etched in his mind. I just followed what he wanted.” That his performance had not been appreciated at all is something he had been able to figure out for sure. But in an industry such as Bollywood, nobody has the time to sit back and mull over a failure for an endless period of time. Hrithik had to move on, and hopefully in a direction that was marked by a change for the better.

The magic happened with the very next film, a path-breaking venture of Rakesh Roshan titled Koi Mil Gaya. The director had been planning the film for a long time, and Hrithik had explained why so in an interview to Stardust way back in 2001: “The subject demands a lot of space and a lot of time. The character is not anything a Hindi film hero has ever played. I’m not going to say anything about the subject but its very, very challenging, and I’m just trying to keep myself focused for this role. It is comforting because my dad knows my plus and minus points. But I can’t take things for granted. I need to work hard to cope with the pressure because of the complexity of the script.”

That the film had been inspired by the noted director Steven Spielberg’s ET was the hot buzz in town even then, but Hrithik refused to reveal any part of the plot during that time for obvious reasons. When the film had been conceived, everybody felt that something special was going to take place. The ones who were speculating positively without bothering to mull over the actor’s failures would be proved right once the film was released in August 2003. 

Among those who had seen the film’s preview and found him brilliant was the young and hugely successful director Karan Johar: “After you see the film, you would want to adopt Hrithik.” Said an insider: “The movie will be an milestone atleast in terms of Hrithik’s performance.” Trade analyst Taran Adarsh had observed: “The film has generated a huge buzz especially among the youth. The music of the film has already caught on and that is a major plus point.”

On his part, Hrithik went into a self-analytical mode sometime before KMG graced the theaters countrywide. Reacting to the criticism that he had looked similar in most of his films, he admitted with characteristic dignity: “I agree that I have repeated my look in my films. The concept of having a different look in different films has always existed in Hollywood. But the Hindi film industry had been bitten by that bug only recently. I never had the time to sit back and plan a particular look for a film. But I have learnt my lessons. I’m not going to repeat the mistakes I made in the past. I’m working at having a new look for my forthcoming films.”

To incorporate a ‘new look; that many thought was very essential for Hrithik, what could have been a better platform that KMG? Because of the films conceptual novelty, he could have carried off a new look and conceived the viewers that he was, indeed, all set to make a change as far as that critical department was concerned. As he was to tell Showtime: “In my home production I am not only looking different but the entire concept of the film will make people realize that its not only the look of the actor in a film that’s important, but the entire film needs to have surprise elements in it to make people sit back and realize that it is actually a good product.”

A good product the film indeed was, in fact, classy in its own right. With one sweeping stroke, the film eclipsed all the unsavory memories of Hrithik’s failures and brought him back into the limelight. To every one right from SRK to Aamir Khan, he was serious competition again. KMG was the story of an innocent and mentally challenged man facing a corrupt modern-day world, and how life for him changed completely once he came across Jadoo, an alien who had failed to return to his spaceship that had touched the planet earth. Hrithik in the role of the protagonist was absolutely outstanding, and his chemistry with the three main players of the film was equally brilliant: the three being Rekha who was superb as the mans mother, Preity Zinta who was the bubbly best as his companion, and the alien who became this mans friend once they got to know each other. 

For young Hansika, who was one of the main young friends of Hrithik in this path-breaking film, working with Hrithik was a very special experience. The youngster is overjoyed as she recollects the first moment when she got drawn to the young superstar: “I became a fan of Hrithik when I saw Kaho Na Pyaar Hai. I just loved the way he danced to the song ‘Ek Pal Ka Jeena’. Truly, it was like a dream come true when I was selected to play a role with him in Koi Mil Gaya. I just couldn’t believe that I was actually in the same film as Hrithik!”

What Vrajesh Hirjee had to say about Hrithik- that is his friendliness with this kids-echoes in the thoughts of if Hansika who says: “What amazed me was that in spite of being so famous, Hrithik is so down-to-earth and friendly. He actually used to play with all of us. We had a ball during the shooting of the entire movie. On my birthday on the 9th of August, Hrithik and Rakesh uncle threw a surprise party for me. I was so delighted! I also remember the time when we had visited a Mc Donald’s outlet in Canada and we had a blast over there.”

There are times when taxing outdoors take their toll on the most hardcore and seasoned among professionals. No wonder Hansika confronted the same dilemma once. “I fell ill on an outdoor. But Hrithik got me out of my mood. Not only did he take care of me, he also made me cheerful again. Same was the case with the other children. Whatever problem we had, he was there for us.”

Even a youngster could spot that very key quality in Hrithik: which is that he is industrious to say the least. “He is a big star, yet very hard working. I remember how he worked day and night to play Rohit. All the time, he used to experiment with his slur and look. He was always amazing, but never hesitant to take a second shot. He also helped all of us while acting. He even used to enact the scenes for us.”

The child loved every moment of shooting for the film, and cant help praising her elder co-star’s performance time and again: “I think he is fantastic. He was so convincing and I loved all the scenes between him and Jadoo! I think he is just amazing in the second half, especially in the sequences like the song ‘It’s Magic’ and the basketball game. I have liked him in all his films. Some of them may have been flops but Hrithik has always been wonderful. But, KMG is of course special to me, I hope I get another opportunity to act with Hrithik.”

The film appealed to the elders and the tiny tots alike, and Hrithik was back to where he belonged: that is, the top. Reviewers went ga ga over the product. The portal said: “KMG has all the ingredients of a wholesome entertainer with lots of action and adventure mixed with great performances by Hrithik Roshan and Preity Zinta. Hrithik Roshan, especially, deserves the accolades for portraying a complex character so well.” Another portal remarked: “KMG is a fun-filled joyride driven by an outstanding performance by its star, Hrithik Roshan. Rohit Verma, a twenty-year-old may not exactly fit the profile of a conventional hero. But we love the underdog and constantly root for Rohit and stayed glued to our seats until he emerges a true winner.” In brief, KMG was one of the rare films about which writing a bad review was an impossible job, even if the writer happened to be idiosyncratically bitchy and filled his pen with vitriol instead of normal ink when he set out to write a review. 

When the website asked him what factors were responsible for the films success, Hrithik said: “There are not secrets as such. All I can say is that dad gets the best out of me. Though he never treats me like a star but at the same time he never takes me for granted. Here he described the character to me and left it to me to give the right touches and nuances. Once I understood the character I went on the sets and gave it my all. Dad knows that I am not a talented but a hard working guy that’s why he gives me complete freedom. He has got immense faith in me, he believes in me and the results are before you.” Modesty personified, but then the guy has been that was ever since he began. Happiness, yes, but no ego trips for him even when he had recaptured his lost glory in such an emphatic manner.

When the interviewer posed him a tricky question as to whether or not other filmmakers understood him well enough, the actor replied: “No, I never said that. Infact, things changed drastically after KNPH became such a huge hit. It altered the whole perspective of filmmakers about me. They thought my name could sell anything even if the story line and direction were poor. Things didn’t work that way and you can’t fool the audience. A lot of my films clipped and I was labeled a one-film wonder after KNPH. After k3g became a huge hit I became a two-film wonder. Now you guys are calling me a three- film wonder. It really doesn’t matter to me as long as I can keep doing my job well.”

What made this interview significant was Hrithik went on to analyze his previous films one after the other, which he normally abstains from. “Lets talk straight, film by film and I’ll tell you my side of the story. Lets take one film at a time. Fiza was released after KNPH and was successful. It was a great feeling to be acclaimed critically because earlier every said I looked good, I danced well, my physique was great- everything except my acting abilities. Fiza gave me the recognition as an actor.” Then he spoke about Mission Kashmir: “I signed the film before KNPH was released, since KNPH became a hit, my character was altered and I was made to do all those Matrix kind of stunts. That affected the original concept of the film.”

About Yaadein, this is what he said: “Mr. Subash Ghai wanted to do a movie with me. He never disclosed anything to anyone until the shooting began. Actually we were all puppets on the sets and we did what we were told. As a result things didn’t work out the way they do in a Subash Ghai film. Then came Aap Mujhe Ache Lagne Lage. It was an attempt to cash on the success of KNPH. The makers repeated me and Amisha, put it a couple of dance and song sequences and other flavors of a formula film. It bombed, as it was not a good film. K3G was a smash hit but it would be unfair to give the credit of its success to any single person. The credit of its success should go to everyone.”

He asserted that NTJNH was a very good subject. “But I feel that it came ten years too late. In the time of E-mails and Internet the lead pair was sending letters through snail mail. The next film, Mujhse Dosti Karoge took the audiences for granted and we paid the price.” He was defensive about MPKDH though: “ I wouldn’t call MPKDH a flop, as it is still in the theaters. Sooraj Barjatya experimented by doing a film in a modern setting. Though it has not been accepted on the scale of his previous movies, it cannot be called a flop.”

Had Hrithik had a series of flop minus KMG in which he was brilliant, it is highly unlikely that many would have bought his argument at their face value. But after his return to popularity in a way no one could have overlooked, he had to be taken seriously. Very, very seriously. Because just as he had ensured that many hearts throbbed wildly after his KNPH, KMG not only added to his list of fans but had firmly established that he was up there with the best and the biggest, not only in terms of charisma but also his acting skills.

A superstar and also a fine actor: isn’t that combination tough to find? Should you wish to make your life infinitely tougher, here is a suggestion. Just keep put his name and make a list of those big stars in Bollywood who combine both virtues. Such an attempt will give a guarantee that a few want: that is, a sleepless night.