Exploring 10 year journey of Hrithik Roshan

Published On: 2013-12-17

Author: Joginder Tuteja

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Exploring 10 year journey of Hrithik Roshan


Source: Bollywood Hungama

By: Joginder Tuteja


In this special four part feature, Joginder Tuteja would be taking readers through the 10 years journey of Hrithik Roshan which has been nothing but a roller coaster ride. Seeing early success, Hrithik saw himself staring at the bottom of the barrel before a great resurgence brought a turnaround in fortunes.



In the current decade, if there is one superstar actor who has followed Aamir Khan model of working to the T, it is Hrithik Roshan. Agenda of both the actors is simple. Well, on second thoughts not really simple! They both believe in less films, big risks and bigger gains. If the adage of living on the edge was to be coined for any of the current superstars, that would have to be for Aamir Khan and then Hrithik Roshan.


While other men from the top bracket, whether Akshay Kumar or Salman Khan, have believed in working on multiple projects in a single year, Shah Rukh Khan has always ensured that he is visible on the big screen right through the year. He may be acting as a lead in one single biggie every year but then he also adds on at least a couple of guest/special/cameo appearances every year. Of course that's his way of expressing gratitude for his friends but when it comes to someone like an Aamir or a Hrithik, even an act like this is a big no-no.


This is the reason why a Hrithik Roshan film is always an event. Underexposed on all fronts, whether it is the world of endorsements (he is seen in far lesser commercials when compared to his counterparts), television (he rarely makes an appearance on reality shows, especially between the release of his two films), stage appearances (he is not known for hosting any award ceremonies) or movies (his last release Jodhaa Akbar had arrived more than two years back), Hrithik has ensured that his fans and followers are hungry and thirsty enough by the time promos of his next film come on air.


However, even Hrithik would agree that this hasn't quite been a planned approach for him. It wasn't that one fine day when he began working on Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai, he promised himself to work in only one film a year (in worst case scenario, perhaps one film every two years). He had his share of mishaps; he had a flurry of mistimed released, poorly sketched roles and some sheer bad products. And worst of it all, he has faced the ignominy of being bestowed with a title which is feared by every promising newcomer who begins his career with a bang - 'A one-film wonder on the lines of Kumar Gaurav'.


In the 90s, we have seen that happening to Rahul Roy (Aashiqui) and Ronit Roy (Jaan Tere Naam). Naturally, Hrithik didn't want to face the same embarrassment of being totally written off, especially after spearheading a film which had created new box office records when released in 2000. He sat down, he didn't quite relax, he formulated a strategy, he cut down on his social outings, he steered himself clear of all the wrong influences, he got himself rid of flattering accomplices and he started building it all again brick by brick.


Result? Today in the year when he completes 10 years of being a part of Bollywood as a lead actor, his Kites is being looked at as the saviour of the industry. In the times when the industry has seen only one major money spinner My Name Is Khan, it is Hrithik Roshan who is expected to bring it out of the slump by coming up with a huge success that could possibly set the cash registers ringing across the globe.


How did he manage to reach this position? What is it that made this man, who came with at least a couple of physical handicaps, to become one of the most reliable actors in Bollywood today? What is it about him that despite alleged scandals, he stays on to be the darling of the masses as well as media and comes out unscathed? Let's explore!


Formulating years


When announced, Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai seemed like just another romantic film which came at the time when comedies featuring Salman Khan and Govinda were in vogue. Yes, the name Roshan counted because Rakesh Roshan was making a film after Karan Arjun and Koyla and this meant that a quality feel of the entire enterprise was pretty much on the cards. Hit music by Rajesh Roshan further helped the cause. However, expectations were still limited and the industry was just curious to know that what exactly this young boy had in store to offer to Bollywood.


Meanwhile, audience had already made up its mind. While there were still speculations amongst the industry folks, junta-janardhan put them all to rest by driving in hordes to watch Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai. Those were the days when multiplexes were yet to make their presence felt while single screens ruled the roost. The film opened to 100% occupancy and as is the saying, a star was born. Audience were pleasantly shocked to find that Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai came with just about everything including high octane drama, a chilling suspense and loads of action. A double role debut only satiated their appetite further and it was declared loud and clear that after enjoying a decade of monopoly in Bollywood, there was finally a strong enough competition for Shah Rukh Khan. Though the film was Hrithik's success, there was death kneel already announced for Shah Rukh Khan. The single word headline that screamed aloud for the reigning superstar - FINISHED!


While Shah Rukh Khan just laughed it all away, just as he had done for his other counterparts who had turned out to be a flash in the pan during the 90s, Hrithik managed to hold on, though surprisingly in films that weren't quite an ideal follow ups to Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai. These were some of the films that he had consented to before he became a sensation after his debut effort. Fiza, a half baked film by Khalid Mohammad saw an opening due to the fan base that had multiplied exponentially after Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai. However, audience can't be fooled for days at stretch and the outcome was scathing criticism that came the film's way (with some of it also falling into Hrithik's lap as well). There were danger signs ahead that clearly indicated that audience weren't expecting him to do experimental films or play a role where he was in a supporting role.


This was evidenced yet again in Mission Kashmir which, despite being a good success, had resulted in industry wondering if there would ever be another Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai by Hrithik. Playing Sanjay Dutt's son with Sonali Kulkarni as a mother was looked at rather suspiciously (and amusedly) while the character played by him, that of a terrorist, seemed way too convenient. However, his charisma coupled with some excellent action ensured that Hrithik stayed on while promising something better in quick time.


However, this was not the case to be as Yaadein which followed in the year ahead was a complete compromise affair. A Subhash Ghai film, which was about a father (Jackie Shroff) and his love and affection for his daughters (Kareena Kapoor & rest) turned out to be an out and out cheesy love story with Hrithik ending up playing a pivotal role. It was clear that the script (which was written before the release of Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai) was reworked on to accommodate the big star that the makers had at their disposal - Hrithik Roshan.


The fact remains though, and something which ex-showman Ghai would definitely agree today based on his vast experience, is that a star can never be above the script. The film was rejected by audience and for the first time ever in his eventful last few months; Hrithik experienced the bitter taste of failure. However, the damage was done by then as he had signed a flurry of films, all of which were all set to make life further miserable for the superstar, who was now relegated to merely a star, in the year to follow. In the meantime, he had to find solace in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham which was clearly an Amitabh Bachchan-Shah Rukh Khan starrer and despite its super success, the picture was clear on the wall - Hrithik had to do something on his own rather than piggy bank on big banners, big directors or big co-stars. He had to do it soon and he had to do it fast. Because this was the time when the same old detractors of Shah Rukh Khan were pretty much ready to pass on the placard to him that read bold and clear - FINISHED.


Yes, indeed finished!


Did that happen? Oh yes, it certainly did and in fact sooner than expected. What followed next wasn't something that Hrithik wouldn't have imagined. He knew the films he had signed. He was aware about the work he had done. He was certain about how the films had shaped. And he perhaps may also have had an inkling of what lied ahead. Both his romantic tales - Aap Mujhe Achche Lagne Lage (reuniting him with Amisha Patel after their debut effort Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai) and Na Tum Jaano Na Hum (featuring ice maiden and yet so raw Esha Deol) were huge disappointments from all aspects. Nothing really stood out here, be it performances, music, overall product and of course box office.


Such misfortune would have broken anyone but Hrithik could still at least hope for the best since a film each with Yash Raj Films and Rajshri Productions was pretty much on the anvil. Both Mujhse Dosti Karoge and Main Prem Ki Deewani Hoon featured Kareena Kapoor opposite him and it was expected that he would finally bounce back after his failed efforts with Amisha and Esha.


However, that was not the case to be as the fate of both the films was already sealed. Mujhse Dosti Karogi was totally rejected as a candy floss affair that didn't have any soul to boast. On the other hand Main Prem Ki Deewani Hoon saw itself going past the coverage mark due to past record (Hum Aapke Hain Kaun, Hum Saath Saath Hain) of Sooraj Barjatya but stayed on to be his most negatively criticised film ever. For Hrithik too, these films got quite some backlash and the placard finally landed in his backyard. Expectedly, it read - FINISHED.


Forward planning


Coming from a family made of people belonging to the world of films comes with its own definite advantages and no one other than Hrithik would be able to vouch for this better. When the going wasn't good for a couple of years when all films starring Hrithik were disappointing either critically or commercially, Roshans were busy devising a plan of their own. They were not waiting for the final nail in the coffin to be set before smelling the coffee. They conceived the idea of Koi Mil Gaya and began preparations for modern day India's first authentic sci-fi film. The picture was clear on the wall - Outside film makers had their set notion about Hrithik and they weren't willing to experiment. Hrithik too needed a hit fast and a huge one at that, lest he was crowned 'Kumar Gaurav'. Totally surrendering himself to the vision that his father had, he began working hard on the toughest role of his career ever, that of Rohit Mehra, who had the body of a 20 year old but the mind of a 10 year kid.


It was history revisited all over again as Koi Mil Gaya saw a massive all India opening for Hrithik Roshan. Along with Jadoo, he was back to being the nationwide heartthrob all over again. Being unconventional was suddenly in. For Hrithik, it was not just a matter of box office success coming in, but also a revival of prestige, something that was much dearer to him than all the money which was flowing in. He was hailed as an actor par excellence and before Aamir Khan made it a habit to surprise audience with every release of his, it was Hrithik who showed the world that being unconventional, unpredictable and unassuming can work as well.


Though the film was a massive success, it also kick started the process of some extreme strategising by Hrithik Roshan. Ladies and gentlemen, Hrithik had made up his mind. Multiple films were out, select films were in and spacing of releases by a wide margin was going to be the order of the day. And yes! the placard lying in the backyard finally found its place where it truly belonged - The garbage bin!


The Road Less Travelled


If at all Hrithik's career has to be plotted, it would be pre-Koi Mil Gaya and post-Koi Mil Gaya. Let's just play on sheer numbers here. Before the release of Koi Mil Gaya, Hrithik had 9 releases to his name in 3 years. Post the release of Koi Mil Gaya, Hrithik has been seen in only 5 films (including Luck By Chance where he had an extended guest appearance) in over 6 years. Doesn't that tell the tale? And no, we are not talking about a superstar who turned into a star and then a flop actor and then completely vanished from the face of the earth due to which such a treatment was meted to him. Instead it is by choice and not by chance that he has seen his turnaround from being a superstar to star to being finished and then turning into a superstar all over again.


The strategy had been pretty much put into action and it was only after a year's gap that he was seen on the big screen again in Lakshya. For both Farhan Akhtar and Hrithik Roshan, the film was akin to coming out of their safety zone. But they did that with aplomb. The film opened to mixed reviews and decent box office collections and though super success wasn't quite the order of the day, appreciation did come Hrithik's way as far as his brilliant performance was concerned. It is a different matter though that for many out there, the film enjoys a cult status today and finds repeat audience when it comes to home viewing.


Meanwhile the gaps had started widening as far as his releases were concerned. Audience had to wait for full two years before Hrithik was seen on the big screen again. There was a clear Aamir Khan influence and while Hrithik prepared himself for far more physically challenging Krrish that stays on to be the most lavishly mounted and successful superhero film ever that has been churned out of Bollywood, his fans were turning impatient.


Their persistence paid as Hrithik gave them not one but two reasons to smile. His Krrish was followed by Dhoom 2 and together both the films turned into bumper successes all over. Though Krrish was a worthy sequel to Koi Mil Gaya but it got some tongues wagging that Hrithik could deliver successful films only with his father. The all time highest collections of Dhoom 2 (before Om Shanti Om broke that record) had these tongues on leash. 2006 turned out to be a landmark year for Hrithik and it appeared that he would be primarily choosing action films in years to come.


However, these years were spaced out by quite some gap. Though he made single shot special appearance as himself in I See You and Om Shanti Om, he involved himself completely in the making of his biggest epic drama till date - Jodhaa Akbar.


That scary feel


Jodhaa Akbar had more wrongs going for it than rights throughout its making. An exhausting schedule took it's toll on the actors, period drama meant that research was always a challenge (something which also saw controversies building up around the release), there were tell tale marks of tiredness setting in as the film struggled to come close to the finishing mark, industry detractors too had their daggers out as attacking a period drama is always a convenient exercise, the music (by A.R. Rahman) too didn't find much appreciation before the release and there were talks that even the producers (UTV Motion Pictures) were worried about their product's eventual prospects.


Their worries weren't ill placed though. On release, the morning shows opened to a lukewarm response. This was the age of multiplexes and it was the first weekend that announced a film's success or failure. In case of Jodhaa Akbar, it seemed that the film was headed more towards being a box office disappointment since despite pick up in collections, there weren't any huge roars from audience that would have brought the film into a comfort zone. And then a miracle happened!


The film hung on to his life and started showing good sustenance even on week days. By the time second weekend came calling, the writing was clear on the wall - 'The hit run of Hrithik Roshan was there to stay'. Despite it's near four hour length (with no trimming coming in despite criticism), Jodhaa Akbar found good money coming its way. Of course no major releases for weeks at stretch meant that the film had a clear run but still the fact remained that this Ashutosh Gowariker film added on to Hrithik's successes. It may not have come anywhere close to the benchmark created by Dhoom 2 but ensured nevertheless that audience would have their hearts beating for the man when his next film comes calling.


A landmark year ahead


Though it wasn't designed this way (Kites could have released in 2009 itself), the fact remains that yet again, it was time for a two year break for Hrithik as far as his big screen appearance was concerned. Are the audience complaining? Well yes, they were till last year but not anymore as the promos have finally hit the screens, hence ensuring that the film is pretty much for the keeps. For them as well as industry in general, the film is a huge bet by itself since Bollywood is going through its lowest phase ever, at least in the current year. Roshan family, with an outsider Anurag Basu, had a job cut down for them and this time around, nothing less than extraordinary would be acceptable by anyone. To the film's credit, buzz is quite good already and though there is still a month to go for the release, there is huge amount of anticipation build up that has taken place.


However, the man amidst all the action, Hrithik Roshan, can well be expected to be the most worried (or shall we say anxious?) of all. For audience, Kites is just another film from which they are expecting three hours of non-stop entertainment. For industry, Kites is just one of those 5 odd films this year which come with the potential of doing a business of 100 crores plus. However, for Hrithik it is a big risk which could result in terrific gains or terrible losses. For him, this is one film where he has given two years of his life and faced some in-house issues at work as well as home front. He knows that he cannot disappoint the audience or the industry but the biggest of it all; he can't afford to disappoint himself. Yes, there is a Guzaarish coming before close of year as well but when it comes to Kites, which is a home production where a sum of dozens of crores has been invested, nothing, and really nothing, can afford to go wrong.


Will he get it right? Well, if he is indeed following the Aamir Khan model of working, something which has taken the shape of a magic potion that always works, he certainly will!