Shahid Kapoor has not delivered a solo hit in ten years. Sounds bizzare? Well, if you analyse the actor’s career, you will realise that is very much true. Despite being one of the most popular young actors to have arrived on the Hindi cinema horizon in the last fifteen years and featuring in some of the most well-mounted films right from the beginning of his career, Shahid Kapoor has had a chequered career with the number of flops/average/below average performers outnumbering the films that managed to make a mark at the box-office. Shahid made his debut with ‘Ishq Vishk’, a youthful romantic comedy in 2003. Though it was director Ken Ghosh’s first film, it was backed by a renowned music label-production house like Tips and had a hit soundtrack by Anu Malik. The film was a commercial hit and announced the arrival of a new star in the form of Shahid Kapoor.
A good start, however, did not result in subsequent success. His next five films ‘Fida’, ‘Dil Maange More’, ‘Deewane Huye Paagal’, ‘Vaah! Life Ho Toh Aisi’ and ‘Shikhar’ crashed at the box-office. 2006 was the year that brought some respite for him. Abbas-Mustan’s ‘36 China Town’ and Priyadarshan’s ‘Chup Chup Ke’, two films that had him paired opposite his then-girlfriend Kareena Kapoor Khan, were moderate successes but what really gave his career a push was his third release that year. ‘Vivah’ was an important film for Sooraj Barjatya as his last film ‘Main Prem Ki Deewani Hoon’ (2003) was a major flop and the director who had helmed blockbusters like ‘Maine Pyar Kiya’, Hum Aapke Hain Koun!’ and ‘Hum Saath Saath Hain’, needed to prove to the audience that he still has his mojo intact. Vivah turned out to be a blockbuster and gave a much needed shot in the arm to Shahid’s career.
After delivering a dud in ‘Fool N Final’ next year, Shahid appeared in ‘Jab We Met’, another landmark film in his career. Imtiaz Ali, the director of the film had earlier directed a film called ‘Socha Na Tha’ for Dharmendra and Sunny Deol’s Vijeta Films. The film, starring Abhay Deol and Ayesha Takia, was a flop when it released, though it has a very good following amongst Imtiaz’s fans today. Imtiaz was supposed to make ‘Jab We Met’ (the film did not have a title then) for the same company and had cast Bobby Deol and Ayesha Takia in the lead roles. For various reasons, the film did not take off then and Imtiaz ended up making the film for Shree Ashtavinayak Cinevision. Contrary to what a lot of people think today, ‘Jab We Met’ was not a blockbuster or even a superhit at the box-office success. It was a respectable success and today, it clearly has more fans than several other films that released that year and did bigger numbers than ‘Jab We Met’.
After two successful films in two subsequent years, the actor must have hoped for his career to tread a stable path. But, that was not meant to be. Right from ‘Kismat Konnection’ in 2008 to ‘Shaandaar’ in 2015, he appeared in a barrage of films that failed to make a mark commercially. He did garner a lot of appreciation for his performance in films like ‘Kaminey’, ‘Haider’ and ‘Udta Punjab’ but these films merely did average business at the box-office. There was also a ‘R…Rajkummar’ which despite being panned by the critics, managed to do above average business at the box-office.
Despite being (as what some would say) the third wheel in ‘Padmaavat’, Shahid managed to leave a huge mark with his portrayal of the Rajput king Ratan Singh and the massive success of the film benefitted him in more ways than one. His new film ‘Batti Gul Meter Chalu’ has been directed by Shree Narayan Singh who has a hit film (‘Toilet Ek Prem Katha’) behind him. Though the film is based on a social issue, it has several commercial trappings like a romantic angle, dance numbers that make it a seemingly good mainstream film for Shahid to follow up his ‘Padmaavat’ act with.
Despite not giving enough box-office hits, Shahid Kapoor has managed to sustain himself as a leading man in the industry for fifteen years because of his sheer talent and the massive fan following he has. It is interesting to note that a majority of his films (regardless of their outcome) have had impressive openings. This shows that the audience is keen to watch him on the screen. Many of these films, despite middling box-office results, have also been watched by a large number of people on television and home video. Now, the onus is on the actor to be more careful with his choices and do the kind of films that will help him consolidate his position at the box-office as a lead actor.