Ranveer Singh turns 37 on Wednesday. It’s not as round a figure as 35 or 40 but a significant one nonetheless. Because in the Hindi film industry, this usually means you have been around for 10-12 years and are about to enter the ‘senior actor/star’ bracket. Actors senior to Ranveer–the OG superstars–are no longer certainties for box office success. So at this crucial juncture when the film industry is hoping for revival, it is for Ranveer and his contemporaries to do so. And he might just have the best shot at doing that. Also read: Ranveer Singh on SRK: ‘He built this mall, we just have small shops in it’
For months, people have been talking about Bollywood’s revival. So does the industry need one? A glance at the numbers would suggest it does. None of the films featuring the biggest names have worked at the box office, certainly not to the extent they were expected to. The three biggest hits of the year have been a Sanjay Leela Bhansali film starring Alia Bhatt, a Kartik Aaryan horror comedy, and (surprise, surprise) a Vivek Agnihotri film on Kashmiri Pandit exodus. And even these three pale in comparison to the astronomical numbers attained by south films like RRR, KGF: Chapter 2, and Vikram. Bollywood’s strike rate definitely needs to improve.
But who should spearhead it? Covid-19 and the lockdowns have changed the game. Five years ago, you’d have expected the Khans and Akshay Kumar to take charge. But most of these veterans have fallen flat so far. The only ‘hero’ who has succeeded is Kartik Aaryan and quite magnificently. And that is where Ranveer Singh comes in. Together with Kartik and Ranbir Kapoor, he will have the best shot at giving a much-needed boost to the Hindi film industry.
Kartik Aaryan has worked hard for years to reach where he is today–at a stage where he can headline a hit. His acting is getting better with each release. He may not be a great actor but he is showing constant improvement. Ranbir, on the other hand, has acting credentials that nobody can doubt. From Rockstar to Sanju and even Barfi, he has always delivered. However, he is yet to give the mass entertainer hit that has become the most desirable form of entertainment post-pandemic. Of course, with Shamshera and Brahmastra, he has the best chance of correcting that as well.
Ranveer, here, has achieved that balance which is needed in the post-pandemic era. Audiences are skeptical about going to the theatre and only want to venture out when it is ‘worth it’. The only common thread in all the successful Indian films post pandemic is that they were either clean entertainers or received largely favourable reviews. That encouraged people to go out and watch them. Ranveer has had his fair share of movies that fit in this cross-section, be it Gully Boy or Padmavat. And his last blockbuster Simmba is as close to the mass action entertainment to the KGFs and Pushpas as Bollywood can get.
One may say that the thing working against him is that both his films released after the pandemic–83 and Jayeshbhai Jordaar–underperformed at the box office. But even there, Ranveer and his performances shone. He has a chance to correct this wrong with two huge films. First up is his reunion with Rohit Shetty for Cirkus, a larger-than-life adaptation of William Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors. Then comes Karan Johar’s directorial return after seven years–Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani.
Ranbir’s massy big films are a gamble, which may very well pay off. I mean, if there is one Hindi film that can enter the ₹1000 crore club, I’d bet my money on Brahmastra. But given the track record of Hindi cinema in recent years, there is a certain amount of trepidation there. Ranveer’s two films may not earn as much as Brahmastra if it does well, but they are safer middling bets. Ideally, the film industry needs all these films to work, including Kartik’s Shehzaada (remake of an Allu Arjun film so you know it has mass entertainment potential). Also read: Cirkus poster: Ranveer Singh’s double roles, a crazy cast, release date and more revealed
The next six months will determine not just what the landscape of Bollywood will look like but also how the second innings of these younger stars will shape up. For a decade, they have been the ‘youngsters’ living in the shadow of their seniors. But now, they have the opportunity to stand out and be the leaders of Bollywood, for the foreseeable future. And Ranveer Singh may already have an inside track there.