Stand-up comedian Sapan Verma made an interesting observation when the poster of Ranbir Kapoor’s latest movie, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, came out.

 

Behind that humorous tweet is a starker, darker truth. When even the posters of his movies are beginning to look like each other, you know something is seriously wrong. Ranbir Kapoor has been typecast. The once-promising actor is going through a dip in his career, what with him taking on the role of the tragic/tortured romantic hero in most of his films. You could say that Ae Dil Hai Mushkil is the final chance the actor has, to prove his box office worthiness.

This is a surprising turn of events for someone who was once touted to take on the Khans of Bollywood and lead the younger generation into the mainstream. Like his contemporaries Vivek Oberoi, Abhishek Bachchan and Imran Khan, Kapoor now faces the prospect of going into hibernation unless things begin to look up for him. How did all this come to pass? The fault lies with Kapoor, and us.

 

Role Play

Let’s look at Kapoor’s career choices first. At the outset, we must give him credit for trying to experiment in a wide variety of roles. So the fact that he is typecast now is the biggest failure of his career. After Saawariya, at a time when Kapoor was experimenting with roles in movies like Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year, we wanted to see him to essay more ‘popular’ roles. When he responded with Anjaana Anjaani, we rejected him. It was when Kapoor essayed more character-backed roles in Rockstar and Barfi! that we saw his acting range.

Bad decisions followed in the form of Besharam, Bombay Velvet and Roy, with box office success eluding him in the eminently watchable Tamasha (2015). Yet, the movies that established him are all romantic stories, right from 2009’s Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani to his biggest hit Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani that released in 2013.

 

A Fault In His Stars?

As an audience, we don’t seem to know how to react to Kapoor’s movies anymore. If ADHM is a hit, we’ll credit the whole cast and Karan Johar – or the controversy surrounding the movie – for its success. If it fails, we’ll be quick to pin the blame on Kapoor once again.

As his career underwent a wobble, we began to take more interest in his love life. Film magazines and websites focused on his break-up with Deepika Padukone and subsequent fairytale romance with Katrina Kaif, before that went kaput as well. Instead of focusing on Kapoor the actor, we were fed with stories of Kapoor the person.

Kapoor himself hasn’t taken a stand on his professional or personal life – a failing on his part. Staying off social media hasn’t allowed him to connect with his large fan base. The actor has been unable to break the mould of his stereotype because there are no avenues where he can express himself. Being media-shy and averse to social media is not the way 21st century stars should be.

It’s not as if Ranbir Kapoor owes an explanation for his choices to anyone but when directors and endorsement deals begin to run away from you, some damage control becomes necessary. Fans want their actors to communicate with them and show they’re human too. That’s one reason his other contemporary, Ranveer Singh, has stolen a march on him. Ranveer has the fame and girl Ranbir should have had only because he connected with his fan base and delivered at the box-office time and again.

For his part, Kapoor is trying to balance his career with two new movies – as a romantic lead in Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani director Ayan Mukherjee’s Dragon!, while also trying the unconventional by playing Sanjay Dutt in Raju Hirani’s next.

 

Kapoor’s career is far from over but there is no doubt that he needs an intervention in the form of a hit movie.

It doesn’t take much to change your perception in front of your fans. He can start by ensuring that the poster of his next release, Jagga Jasoos –which he is also producing – is more original than the ones Verma listed in his tweet.

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