What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of Ranveer Singh? A vibrant, uninhibited person exuding loads of energy. While Ranveer has confessed his love for masala films and more specifically the films made in the 80s and 90s in several of his interviews, his film choices have been quite different from what he professes to be his favourite kind of films. Your first film chooses you, they say. ‘Band Baaja Baaraat’, though produced by Yash Raj Films, was not the kind of lavish, launch vehicles most newcomers, especially the ones who have industry connections get. Ranveer has himself candidly admitted that when the first poster and the trailer came out, the audience was quite unkind towards his unconventional looks and many were of the opinion that he was not hero-material. His performance and the success of the film forced most of those people to change their mind about him. His next film ‘Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl’ was with the same production-director team. The film was a moderate success and did not find as much appreciation coming its way as ‘Band Baaja Baaraat’ did.
After a no-show in 2012, Ranveer reappeared on the screen with ‘Lootera’ directed by Vikramaditya Motwane. Though the film was co-produced by a big production house like Balaji Telefilms and the lead actress Sonakshi Sinha had delivered back-to-back successes, this was a fairly offbeat film which could not make much of an impact at the box-office despite glowing reviews. Maybe, Ranveer should have attempted a film like this at a later stage of his career and not in 2013 when he was far from being the bonafide star he is today. The same year, he had another release which proclaimed that he is the new star on the horizon. Kareena Kapoor Khan, who had earlier been signed to play the lead role, walked out of the film a few days before the shoot was to start and Ranveer found his heroine (for life) in Deepika Padukone. Though Ranveer got to play a boisterous and loud character in ‘Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela’ which had certain similarities to his off-screen persona, it was a layered film firmly entrenched in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s world of complex characters. The actor went on to form a formidable partnership with Bhansali and did two more hugely successful films namely ‘Bajirao Mastani’ and ‘Padmaavat’ with him. In fact, apart from the films he did with him, he either tasted failure (‘Kill/ Dil’, ‘Befikre’) or moderate success (‘Dil Dhadakne Do’) with the directors he worked between 2014-18.
Commercial potboilers or masala films as one would simply call them – this is the kind of home-grown genre which most young actors have stayed away from. Ranbir Kapoor tried his hand at it with ‘Besharam’ and ended up burning his fingers. ‘R…Rajkumar’ is Shahid Kapoor’s biggest grosser but an average success. The only young actor who ventured into this space and came out with flying colours was Varun Dhawan who also boasts of a hundred per cent success rate in his six year long career. Ranveer Singh had a personality that was screaming to burst out on the screen in a hard-core commercial masala entertainer and that is finally happening with ‘Simmba’ – with Rohit Shetty at the helm of affairs, no less. A remake of Telugu hit ‘Temper’, Ranveer will be seen reprising the role played by Junior NTR in the original. Though the character graph seems to the same, they come across as two different personalities. As evident by the box-office performance of films like ‘Badhaai Ho’, ‘Stree’, ‘Andhadhun’, among others, the audience is more accepting towards slightly offbeat content than it was a few years back. However, there is nothing that can compete with a well-made masala film that gets its ingredients right. A ‘Thugs Of Hindostan’ might have tanked at the box-office, it still managed to register an opening day number of Rs. 52.25 crore. This proves that the audience loves to see their favourite stars in a tent pole film mounted on a huge scale. As a director, Rohit Shetty has had more hits than misses. One hopes that this combination of Rohit and Ranveer does wonders at the box-office.
In a time, when more and more young actors are veering towards alternative cinema, there is a need for someone who takes the onus of doing that one true-blue masala film once every couple of years. Varun is already doing it and Ranveer should follow suit. And just like Varun, who makes sure that a ‘Badlapur’ is followed by an ‘ABCD 2’, Ranveer can strike a balance between his choices as well. His next film is ‘Gully Boy’ he will be seen playing Kapil Dev in Kabir Khan’s ‘83’. While the former is set in a realistic space, the latter should have more to offer to the masses because of its core subject. Ranveer has the charm, personality and most importantly, the star power to invest in such films. Here is hoping that more young guns wake up to the power of commercial Hindi cinema.