Hrithik on fire!

Published On: 2014-09-19

Author: Shashi Baliga

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Hrithik on fire


Source: The Hindu Businessline


Hrithik Roshan is the kind of actor who gives star kids a good name (there are others too — Aamir Khan, Ranbir Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor to name a few but we'll keep that story for another time). In fact, Hrithik shares two very impressive, interlinked qualities with Aamir — the courage to take risks coupled with the ability to say no.


This means that Hrithik does far fewer films than most other actors. His average in the 11 years since his debut in Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai is less than two films a year. He can afford to be choosy: he is the son of one of Bollywood's most successful directors, Rakesh Roshan. So money has never been the prime motivation for this actor. What has been is a desire to excel, to learn, to grow.


The results haven't always been spectacular; in fact some have been outright disasters, but that hasn't deterred Hrithik, who is one of the industry's hardest-working actors. So diligent is this astonishingly good-looking, incredibly committed, overwhelmingly sincere actor that he seems to have made a habit of pushing himself to the extremes of pain and endurance for his movies. If he has a fault it is that he sometimes tries too hard — and the effort shows on screen.


He has never tried to hide the fact that he hashad to work very hard at every aspect of his star persona — the acting, the physique, the projection — and has had to overcome a bad stammer as well. Unlike a Shah Rukh Khan or Salman Khan, Hrithik is not a natural-born star. Off screen, or rather, off-camera, he is a patently earnest, sincere and likeable guy, but he doesn't have the strut of the stud or the easy charm of the flirt. He is polite, pleasant and never greedy for the limelight.


But switch on a camera and he is a man transformed. The physicality erupts and dazzles, his eyes glimmer with invitation. It is a cultivated sex-appeal that Hrithik has worked on very hard, as he has on his other attributes as an actor.


You're going to see all of it on display in Agneepath. Perhaps not the blazing, tanned sexuality of Dhoom 3, but an earthier, less polished one, for Agneepath is unabashed old-style Bollywood formula. It has a hero who is more than heroic, a villain who will turn on the meanies full blast, the pretty young love interest who will dance seductively, lots of dishum-dishum and of course song-and-dance. None of your fancy-shmancy foreign locations, we're back to amchi Mumbai, chawls and Ganpati processions. It's the kind of film Hrithik has not done for close to a decade.


Which makes Agneepath an interesting choice, because most of his successes in these years have been off-beat or off-beat formula films. In fact, as I ran my eye over Hrithik's career graph, I realised that he has made a conscious choice to toss up the genres for the last decade or so. To go in reverse order there is Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011: an adult coming-of-age movie), Guzaarish (2010: well, let's say it's that indefinable but instantly recognisable genre called a Sanjay Leela Bhansali film), Kites (2010: Hollywood Latino romance), Luck By Chance (2009: wry, intelligent insider film) Jodhaa Akbar (2008: historical), Dhoom 2 (2006: eye-candy caper) Krrish (2006: superhero) Lakshya (2004: coming of age film) and Koi Mil Gaya (2003: shall we say sci-fi or ET rip-off?). The only repetition of sorts were from Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and Lakshya (both from the Farhan-Zoya Akhtar stable) and Krrish (a sequel).


The years before Koi Mil Gaya are, on the other hand, peppered with formula romances, most of which bombed, the only real successes being his father's Kaho Na Pyaar Hai and Karan Johar's Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham. In fact, it was after a string of four rom-com flops — Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon (2003); Mujhse Dosti Karoge! (2002); Na Tum Jaano Na Hum (2002) and Aap Mujhe Achche Lagne Lage (2002) that Rakesh Roshan took charge of his son's future and came up with Koi Mil Gaya.


The role of a mentally challenged geek was an audacious choice for an actor whose career was teetering on the edge in spite of one of the most sensational debuts in recent times.


That appetite for risk has marked Hrithik's choices since the overwhelming success of Koi Mil Gaya. Unlike Shah Rukh and Salman Khan, who have tended to play safe for the most part and played the same kind of roles over and over again, Hrithik has gone the way of Aamir Khan, who takes his time choosing his films and makes sure he doesn't fall into the pit of predictability.


To make that kind of career choice requires not only the courage to take risks, but the ability to say no. Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan have largely done films with friends, worked with directors they have a comfort level with. Aamir, on the other hand, rarely works with the same director and has moved from sub-genre to sub-genre within the parameters of the classic Hindi film formula.


Hrithik Roshan is getting there. Like Aamir Khan, he has the advantage that comes from growing up in a family where the film business is discussed at dinner. Unlike Aamir Khan, he also has a canny, hugely successful producer-director advising him at the dining table, and making a showcase film for him every few years.


To take on a role made famous by Amitabh Bachchan requires some courage and confidence in one's ability to deliver the goods. That Hrithik Roshan will do that commercially in Agneepath is as close to a certainty as you can get it in this business. Will he be able to do himself proud as actor?