Ranveer Singh turns 37 on Wednesday. It’s not as round as 35 or 40, but a significant one nonetheless. Because in the Hindi film industry this usually means you’ve been around for 10-12 years and are about to enter the ‘senior actor/star’ category. Actors older than Ranveer – the OG superstars – are no longer sureties for success at the box office. So at this pivotal moment when the film industry is hoping for a revival, it’s up to Ranveer and his contemporaries to do just that. And he might have the best chance of doing that† Also read: Ranveer Singh on SRK: ‘He built this mall, we only have small shops there’
There has been talk for months about the revival of Bollywood. So the industry needs one? A look at the numbers suggests so. None of the biggest-name movies have made it to the box office, certainly not to the extent expected of them. The three biggest hits of the year were a Sanjay Leela Bhansali movie starring Alia Bhatt, a Kartik Aaryan horror comedy and (surprise, surprise) a Vivek Agnihotri film about the exodus of Kashmiri Pandit. And even these three pale in comparison to the astronomical numbers achieved by Southern movies like RRR, KGF: Chapter 2, and Vikram. Bollywood’s success rate definitely needs to improve.
But who should take the lead? Covid-19 and the lockdowns have changed the game. Five years ago you would have expected the Khans and… Akshay Kumara take the lead. But most of these veterans have fallen flat so far. The only ‘hero’ who has succeeded is Kartik Aaryan and quite magnificent. And that’s where Ranveer Singh comes in. Together with Kartik and Ranbir Kapoor, he has the best chance of giving the Hindi film industry a much-needed boost.
Kartik Aaryan has worked hard for years to get to where he is today – at a stage where he can headline a hit. His acting gets better with each release. He may not be a great actor, but he shows constant improvement. Ranbir, on the other hand, has acting credentials that no one can doubt. From Rockstar to Sanju and even Barfi, he has always delivered. However, he has yet to give the mass entertainer hit that has become the most desirable form of entertainment after the pandemic. With Shamshera and Brahmastra, of course, he has the best chance of correcting that as well.
Ranveer has achieved that balance needed in the post-pandemic era here. The public is skeptical of theater and only wants to go out if it is ‘worth it’. The one common thread running through all successful Indian films after the pandemic is that they were either pure entertainers or largely rave reviews. That encouraged people to go out and look at them. Ranveer has had quite a few movies that fit this cross-section, be it Gully Boy or Padmavat. And his latest blockbuster Simmba is as close to massive action entertainment for the KGFs and Pushpas as Bollywood can get.
You could say that the thing that works against him is that both of his films released after the pandemic – 83 and Jayeshbhai Jordaar – underperformed at the box office. But there too, Ranveer and his performances shone. He has a chance to correct this 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 directing return after seven years – Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani.
Ranbir’s huge big movies are a gamble, which can pay off very well. I mean, if there’s one Hindi movie that has the 1000 crore club, I bet my money on Brahmastra. But given the track record of Hindi cinema in recent years, there is a certain amount of trepidation. Ranveer’s two films may not make as much as Brahmastra when things go well, but they’re safer mediocre bets. Ideally, the movie industry needs all of these movies to work, including Kartik’s Shehzaada (remake of an Allu Arjun movie so you know it has mass entertainment potential). Also read: Circus Poster: Ranveer Singh’s Dual Roles, Crazy Cast, Release Date & More Revealed
The next six months will define not only what the Bollywood landscape will look like, but also how the second innings of these younger stars will take shape. For ten years they have been the ‘youngsters’ who live in the shadow of their seniors. But now they have the chance to stand out and be the leaders of Bollywood, for the foreseeable future. And Ranveer Singh may already have an inside track there.