Hall Of Fame 8- Hrithik Shining Bright!

Published On: 2012-08-22

Author: unknown

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Hrithik, Hrithik Shining Bright!

Source: Hall of Fame
Typed by Vanita

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The euphoria raised by Koi Mil Gaya hadn’t died when Hrithik Roshan came up with another film that may not have triumphed at the box office but which allowed him to make a huge impact as an actor. Directed by Farhan Akhtar who had made his presence felt in the Indian Film Industry with a film like Dil Chahta Hai not long ago, Lakshya was a war film but not in the conventional Bollywood sense in which Hrithik was the central role.

Released on June 18, 2004, this Farhan Akhtar film will be remembered for one reason: in other words, the performance of Hrithik who had signed no other project except this on to ensure that he could work on the character with single minded dedication that is know to be his greatest asset. He had taken a huge chance by working on one film, which is so unlikely the average Bollywood star who, in clinched terms, believes in making hay while the sun shines. What if Lakshya did not work was an issue that preoccupied many Hrithik fans, and their fears came true when the film received a lukewarm response at the box office. 

But what must have been reassuring for Hrithik was that his performance got nothing except genuinely appreciative acknowledgements from critics and laymen alike. Not surprising, because the actor had given his best host while attempting to strike a balance between working and giving attention to family. 

When he was shooting for the film in Ladakh, he was away from home for 2 whole months, which is the longest he has ever spent while being completely away from his family. In Ladakh, the need to make a telephone call to stay in touch was important and, yet the reality was that he had to cover a considerable distance on foot to reach a place he could have made a call from. This he did, whenever he missed his wife and family, illustrating the old saying that distance made a heart grow fonder.

Farhan’s famous father Javed Akhtar who, along with so-writer Salim, had turned Amitabh Bachchan into the legendary Angry Young Man in the seventies had written Lakshya. Akhtar Senior had left writing movies many years back after giving films like Roop ki Rani Choron Ka Raja and Prem which must have been uninspiring ventures for him to say the least. His return as a writer of films after years of hibernation had raised expectations though. The father-son team was expected to leave a mark, which it did, if not commercially at least aesthetically for sure.

To begin with, Lakshya came across as different from other war films because it did not have the sort of artificial, over the top patriotism that characterizes most flicks of that genre. The film tells the story of a confused young man who goes through the motions of living without being sure of his professional objectives. The plot if about how his character acquires a sense of responsibility and manages to achieve his mission as an army man with poised resolve. 

About Hrithik’s performance in the film, Mid-day noted: “Roshan…carries almost the entire compendium on his two shoulders in a rare performance that gradually progresses from being disarmingly endearing to the gut-wrenchingly engaging.” The web site affirmed: “Performance wise Lakshya is Hrithik’s film. His transition from a lazy dude to a responsible lieutenant is simply superb.” After Lakshya, Hrithik’s career has taken a turn for the better because although the film hasn’t fared well at the box office few can question that it is a good product in which his is the distinctive performance.

Now, that he is back to the top which is where he once belonged, some might be inclined to compare his decision to be choosy with Aamir Khan who had redefined the way in which films should be selected while working in the Hindi Film Industry. Yet, few will refute the thought that Hrithik is taking a chance, and a big fat one. Why does he think such an attitude is worthwhile? In Filmfare, what the actor had to say shows that he has matured over the years: “When KNPH happened, everyone made me feel like the most successful actor in the world. But I also felt burdened and pressurized to do all things I had to do. People were comparing me to the legends in the business, but I was unsure of my standing. I was at the highest peak but was trying to hold on to every rock that I could find to cement my position there.”

“Where I stand now is not the peak and I understand that all this- the success and the failures- is just a journey. But its beautiful and I don’t mind the failures, even those waiting for me ahead. I am not running, I’m not scrambling, and I’m not confused or agitated. I understand the business and life so much better.”

Perhaps why he has chosen to be selective is since he, after having tasted failures in his career, is also aware that debacles and destiny are closely connected in this industry. He also realizes where he had erred after the euphoria generated by his first huge success. As he had said in the same interview: “For success to truly work, it has to be interspersed with failure. After KNPH, somewhere along this way, I started losing myself in a lot of ways. I stopped enjoying so many things that I used to take pleasure in earlier. I thought I was pushing too hard. Whether it was my dance, my appearance or my poses in photo-shoots, I was always trying to be what I was not. I started to become the Hrithik Roshan that I was supposed to be, the person people perceived me to be. I was not me.”

The thinking mind behind the actor manifested itself when he asserted: “After the failures of my next four films, I retreated into my past mentally and tried to find myself again. That’s when I realized how much I use to enjoy my dance, my acting and my work. When I got back to working with dad in KMG, I remembered how things used to be. And then slowly, I reset myself back to normal”

All stars no matter how big and good need to understand the significance of failures when the film expected to be a surefire hit might end up having no takers, while another which the critics might have trashed can have more buyers a the counters than the films producer, director and actors could have ever imagined. Such box office uncertainty can set anybody thinking, which is why Hrithik had to say this about the lack of success in life: “Failure is important in a persons life because it brings you closer to the truth. It filters the peripherals, it makes you realize what is important and defines your priorities.”

Reflective but not pointlessly perturbed: that sums up the state of mind of this young and talented actor who is destined to grow bigger with time. Why things cannot happen otherwise is since he is, today, the only serious rival of the Khans who are not so young any longer. Sometime, and not much later, they will have to switch tracks and opt for performances of what is known as ‘character actors’ in the Indian Film Industry. Apart from the Khans and a dramatically improved Ajay Devgan who is older than Hrithik as well, there is nobody who has offered any sort of serious competition to this guy.

Here, it is important to assert that even when Hrithik was going through a tough patch and people were writing him off, he was occupying more print space than most. Somewhere, the very same people who were hitting out against him must have felt: how could this happen to the guy? He was bigger than anybody else in his generation by a huge distance, and he continues to hold his position without making any sort of hue and cry about it.

That he is an actor with a lot of skills is something we must accept honestly and unequivocally. That the new generation has failed to deliver any star of comparable stature is a truth nobody can shy away from. That he works hard and wants to be brilliant in what he does can be seen from most of his performances. That he has not parted ways with humility is perhaps his most endearing quality, and especially since not many stars who are as big as he is have that virtue in the industry of today.

Choreographer-turned-director Farah Khan’s fist directorial venture is Main Hoon Na, a film Hrithik was supposed to be a part of but which he opted out of following which Zayed Khan got the role he was supposed to play. It is not that the relationship of Hrithik and Farah has soured because of that one decision, as it is easy to realize why: “Hrithik and I’ve known each other for donkey’s years. I remember he was busy grooming himself, as he had decided to become an actor. I have witnessed the transformation of an awkward teenager becoming an incredibly good-looking actor.”

Farah insists that the “Hrithik you see today didn’t happen overnight. It took weeks, months and years of hard work. The first time his father Rakesh Roshan approached me to choreograph for Hrithik’s launch film, he had told me nothing about how good a dancer he was. But Hrithik had researched lots. He had told me that no actor had done swaying in his or her dances in a long time. Trust me, he had rehearsed for months to get those perfect steps.” Hardwork: that one key quality of his transpires through Farah Khans observation because very few doubt that Hrithik is a fantastic dancer with amazing footsteps and a confident body language that are so essential for a good dance routine.

What is it in Hrithik that makes him different from others around him? Says Farah most emphatically: “I’ve worked with a lot of actors but he is one actor who is his own critic. It’s his hard work and dedication that’s bought him to this height. On the sets also when everyone else is busy chatting, eating and gossiping between breaks, you’ll always see this boy somewhere in some corner rehearsing.”

Farah has some interesting stories to tell about Hrithik, the human being. “Hrithik the person is completely different from Hrithik, the actor. Once the camera is switched off, he can be quite a prankster. While filming KMG both he and Preity ganged up against his petite wife Sussanne. She would be the butt of their jokes. I can tell you from the husband-wife interaction that they love each other. Hrithik can also be a very good friend. I was slightly disappointed with him when he opted out of my directional debut, Main Hoon Na. This was the last thing I expected from him, especially after doing the token shot. This even led to some misunderstanding between us. For a brief period we didn’t work together. But we patched up eventually.”

Since Hrithik is such a brilliant dancer, matching him step for step can be tough for anyone. But Farah recollects how Hrithik had persuaded Kareena into performing with him for a song that turned out to be a huge hit. “We were shooting for the ‘Soniya…’ number from Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Ghum. And just before the shooting began Kareena (Kapoor) developed cold feet. She’s told me that the song was one of the best songs of the film and Hrithik was a fabulous dancer. She was scared that she’d goof if up big time. She said that she wasn’t quite sure if she’d be able to match up to Hrithik’s pace and style. This had happened despite innumerable rehearsals. She just wasn’t prepared to get out of her trailer van. Then Hrithik assured her that nothing will go wrong and that this song will break the jinx (they were considered a jinxed pair after Yaadein and MDK).” 

Having seen him on the sets so often, Farah believes that one of the key strengths of Hrithik is that he makes everyone around him very comfortable. “Hrithik has the knack to put his co-actresses and others working around him at ease. They really respect him because he never takes his anger and frustration out on them, like most other actors.”

Not many people have had the opportunity to observe Hrithik from close proximity since childhood like actress Rati Agnilhotri has. “I have known Duggu (Hrithik) since he was born. He grew up in front of me and I remember that even as a child, he was very respectful. Right from childhood when I worked with Rakesh Roshan and J Om Prakash, I remember he was a very shy kid. Even if we pulled his leg, he never got irritated and never retaliated.” Like many people, Rati is eulogistic about the way he conducts himself. “Today, of course, he is one of the biggest stars in the country, yet, he continues to be respectful and humble as before. In my opinion, Hrithik sets an example, which other stars need to emulate. In spite of the mass hysteria he caused after his first film, success never went to his head. Girls go crazy if they see him; he still maintains his cool and makes a conscious effort of interacting with his fans. His behavior is impeccable.”

Clearly somebody who admires the guy who she has seen ever since he was very young, Rati goes on: “Even the way in which he stands before the elders on the sets is something all the young stars of today should take note of. And I have surprisingly never noticed that he has refused an autograph to any fan. At least not in front of me. This is another thing that today’s younger crop can learn from him. It’s so easy to get carried away in the entertainment industry.”

Rati has observed the way Hrithik behaved not only in front of his fans but other around him as well. “Not only in front of his fans, Hrithik is a picture of humility in front of his co-stars as well. During Yaadein’s shooting, for instance, his demeanor with the young girls was friendly and decent. He showed a great amount of respect for Jackie Shroff and that’s where his best quality lies. He always has immense respect for all his costars, whether he or she is a legend or a newcomer.”

Another thing she has noticed is that he never has any problems with the directors he words with, an important quality necessary for an actor’s success anywhere in the world. Whether he was working with a veteran director like Subash Ghai (Yaadein) or a debutante like Arjun Sablok (Na Tum Jano Na Hum), both the films with I was a part of, he was always grounded. I know many people he’s worked with but have never heard him have any ego hassles with anyone. Humility aside, he is extremely hard-working. He used to work day and night perfecting his expressions and polishing even tiny nuances. In both the films I worked with him, he always used to do his homework perfectly, owing to which he acted very well.”

Before the release of KMG with which he made a dream comeback, Hrithik was going through a rough patch. “Prior to the release of KMG, a lot was being written against him and skeptics had begun doubting his acting prowess. However, in my opinion, although he signed some wrong films, he himself always acted well. He was the saving grace of some of the movies he did,” believes Rati. “KMG proved all the skeptics wrong. It was an amazingly sensitive portrayal of a difficult role. The innocence in his character was wonderfully bought out.”

Actress Himani Shivpuri also has several thoughts to share and, not surprisingly, one of them centers his fan following. “The craze he generates among the youth has to be seen to be believed. Girls want him and guys want to be like him. Even the kids are crazy about him, especially after KMG.”

Himani believes that he had made a few errors in judgment while choosing his scripts in the initial phases of his career. “Yes, he did make a few mistakes while selecting his scripts after the euphoria of his debut film. However his own performance never got affected and with KMG, he has silenced all his dictators. KMG was just brilliant! Such a difficult role and he carried it off so convincingly! He has acted well in all his films but this one was something special. He deserves all the awards he got and more. In my opinion, his performance in KMG ranks among the best performances in the history of Indian cinema.”

That he is among the few dignified men in the industry is an attribute even Himani cannot help praising. “Other big stars are pretentious. Hrithik is one of the few Bollywood who has a heart of gold. In fact, he gets along famously with everyone in an industry that is notorious for its aloofness, jealousies and insecurities. He is a true superstar- he has poise, charisma and a great flair for acting. Believe me, his best is yet to come.” Himani is right. We believe her.

On the personal front even while he strives towards making professional conquests, his marriage with Sussanne has been rock-solid, and despite stories of his affair with Kareena Kapoor that the media printed so gleefully. Two years after that story had been ‘broken’, the marriage stands the way it once did. There is no symptom of any sort of turbulence, forget calamity. “A lot of trouble could have been cause because of the lies that were written. But Sussanne had the maturity to see through it all. My family has been my biggest strength,” he admits with justifiable pride today. Exactly the feelings of Farah Khan who repeats his words and thoughts, and adds more to it: “Hrithik’s biggest strength is his family. Look how they stood by him in his worst phase. There was a time when Hrithik mania was at its peak. Then came the downfall. By bouncing back in action, he has not proved he is a toughie and nothing can break him.”

The actor’s most recent release has been Lakshya that, literally speaking, means ‘the target’. The film might have been off target as far as its performance at the box office is concerned, but it has reaffirmed Hrithik’s quality as an actor. Today, the actor is all set to work in his father Rakesh Roshan’s next film, which is a sequel of KMG. After having performed quite extraordinarily in KMG, the sequel will surely offer a set of fresh challenges for the young man who is known to strive for the best as a matter of principle. The sets for the film are being erected in Bangkok, and the film is likely to have Rekha who played Hrithik’s mum and also Preity Zinta in a cameo.

According to the grapevine, the sequel is a story that will have Hrithik in a double role. It is being rumored that he will play the role of both a father and a son, and that the plot hinges on an intergalactic rescue mission conducted by the latter. The film is also likely to have Naseeruddin Shah and Om Puri, two of the best actors in contemporary India, who will be essaying a couple of key characters. Should this turn out to be true, Hrithik will have to act out his skin to make a serious impact. But then, how can anybody forget the way he has managed to triumph even when pitted against the mightiest of circumstantial odds?

Hrithik, lets not forget, is a really fine actor. What’s equally important: he is a young man who knows the equally fine art of survival amongst the fittest.