Bollywood top star? Social Survey!: Shah Rukh Khan, the reigning star for over a decade, last had a superhit in 2008 (Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi). Salman Khan has had a resurrection with blockbusters like Wanted and Dabangg. Aamir Khan’s empire (his directorial venture, and production house as well as his movies) is reaching its pinnacle. Then there is Bollywood’s Golden Boy, Hrithik Roshan, and Akshay Kumar, who has given many hits, though recently it’s been more flops than hits. In the film industry, usually one star always shines brighter than the rest.
Shah Rukh Khan
Twitter followers: 7,46,326
Google results: 60,90,000
Hits and misses: Though he debuted with Deewana, Shah Rukh literally burst out of the cinema screens when he played two consecutive negative roles in Darr and Baazigar. Subsequently, he became a huge romantic hero with films like Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge and Dil to Pagal Hai, not to mention director and producer Karan Johar’s favourite actor, delivering hit after hit after hit. It’s difficult to list all his hits (and some misses) – there have been so many. Suffice it to say that he’s been the No. 1 all-round hero for a long time – King Khan indeed.
Hot factor: He’s not at all conventionally good-looking, but Shah Rukh’s energy, spontaneity and self-deprecating sense of humour make him very real to the audience. He’s the ultimate romantic hero, not afraid to cry and to wear his heart on his sleeve. And he also epitomises young urban Indians who are highly ambitious, internationally-minded and not afraid to show it. Men love him, women love him, even kids love him!
Right moves: He understands his audience and plays to the gallery almost every time.
Wrong moves: He’s over-exposed – all over the place in advertisements, in cricket (because of his IPL team, Kolkata Knight Riders), on television as a host, at awards shows as a compere… Plus, he doesn’t seem to be making good script choices these days. He was last seen in My Name is Khan, which wasn’t very well-received.
Up next: Ra.One, a superhero film and his home production and Don 2: The Chase Continues.
Our (gratuitous) advice: He should choose better scripts, cut down on endorsements and remember what his audience wants from him.
Twitter followers: 4,49,561
Google results: 40,10,000
Hits and misses: Began with a bang! Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak was a superhit! And it also established Aamir as something of a romantic hero. Always popular with the audience, Aamir’s time really came with his home production Lagaan in 2001. He established himself as the thinking audience’s actor, someone who will only do quality films and roles that are not stereotypes even if the movies themselves are commercial. From Rang De Basanti in 2006, Aamir has given hits every single year, culminating in the mega successful 3 Idiots in 2009. He also reinvented himself as a director with Taare Zameen Par and as a producer of hit films such as Jaane Tu...Ya Jaane Naa and the off beat Peepli Live..
Hot factor: He comes across as an actor, not a star, and his perfectionist stance is much appreciated. He’s also very likeable on screen, and with such a youthful face, can even get away with playing a college student as he did in Rang De Basanti and 3 Idiots. He is not as intensely romantic as SRK, nor does he have a bad boy image like Salman.
Right moves: He has made much of his perfectionism, whether as an actor, director or producer, so audiences now know that he will give them something different and challenging with every film. He has been consistent with his choice of films, which have been both entertaining and path breaking.
Wrong moves: Because of his height and voice, he doesn’t suit larger-than-life roles, like that of Mangal Pandey in the film of the same name. He also avoids media unless he has a film to promote, which means he isn’t really connecting with his audience. Does this mean his fans don’t see enough of him?
Up next: Dhobi Ghat and a guest appearance in Delhi Belly, both home productions.
Our (gratuitous) advice: Aamir should junk his only-one-film-a-year policy and interact a little more with the media and his fans.
Twitter followers: 5,32,893
Google results: 64,00,000
Hits and misses: Shot to fame with the superhit Maine Pyar Kiya and of course, instantly became a romantic hero. Over the years, he’s been associated with masala entertainment – the real Bollywood deal. But hits are not guaranteed with Salman, there have been many highly forgettable films between the most memorable. His latest, Dabangg, however, is the second highest-grossing film of all time, which means that right now, Salman is very much in the running for Bollywood’s Hero No. 1.
Hot factor: Salman is Salman – he’s made a separate space for himself in the industry. On screen, he doesn’t come across as an actor playing a character, instead he seems as though he’s just being himself. He’s great at situational comedy, has established a bond with the masses, and comes across as one of the boys. Also, he’s a bachelor who’s had highly decorative girlfriends. Now, that’s glamour!
Right moves: Salman isn’t that convincing in an intense role and he doesn’t fit into experimental cinema – and he knows it. So he sticks to what he knows best – cinema that is meant to entertain. He has very effortlessly and with great success made the transition to television and is a likeable and interactive host.
Wrong moves: He doesn’t sound serious enough about cinema. He needs to learn from Shah Rukh how to handle the media, and take lessons from Aamir on how to market his films and himself.
Up next: Banda Yeh Bindaas Hai, Ready, My Love Story.
Our (gratuitous) advice: Salman should stay true to himself.
Going steady: Ajay Devgan
He arrived on Bollywood’s screens in style, doing the split between two motorbikes, and was instantly accepted as a hero. So Ajay’s 1991 debut film, Phool Aur Kaante, did good business even though he isn’t a conventionally good-looking star. But Ajay’s dark brooding eyes are his USP and no one doubts his audience-attracting power. Ajay has had consistently good performances in all sorts of films, from standard Bollywood fare like Jigar, Ishq, Dilwale, to dark, intense movies like Zakhm, Lajja, Company, The Legend of Bhagat Singh, Omkara. He’s just had a stunning year with back-to-back hits: Rajneeti, Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai and Golmal 3.
Twitter followers: 2,69,434
Google results: 1,82,000
Hits and misses: Akshay completes two decades in Bollywood this year. While the ’90s primarily saw him kicking butt in action flicks like Khiladi, Mohra, Sabse Bada Khiladi and Khiladiyon Ka Khiladi, he went on to establish his credo as a versatile actor in multiple genres with Yeh Dillagi and Dhadkan (romantic), Ek Rishtaa (drama), and comedy with Hera Pheri, Mujhse Shaadi Karogi and Singh is Kinng (for which he won quite a few awards). But the real winning streak started in 2007 after he churned out five hits in a row – Namastey London, Heyy Baby, Bhool Bhulaiyaa, Welcome and Singh is Kinng (there’s a Tashan nestled in there somewhere but the less said about the movie the better). A long string of flops began soon after, then Akki landed Tees Maar Khan with director Farah Khan but that hasn’t worked either.
Hot factor: He’s good-looking and fit, and gives good competition to the Khan troika.
Right moves: We do think Akki could do with better scripts but even so, he does end up opposite some of the biggest and hottest Bollywood babes: Deepika Padukone in Chandni Chowk To China, Katrina Kaif in Namastey London and Tees Maar Khan and Aishwarya Rai in Action Replayy.
Wrong moves: Akki’s filmography from mid-2008 onwards is packed with forgettable films like Chandni Chowk to China, 8x10 Tasveer, Kambakkht Ishq, Blue (seriously, what was he thinking??), De Dana Dan, Khatta Meetha and Action Replayy. And nothing about his latest film, apart from a certain Sheila, is generating much buzz either (except how terrible it is!).
Up next: Patiala House, a sports drama with Anushka Sharma; Thank You, a romantic comedy by Anees Bazmee, Desi Boys, an action comedy, and Shirish Kunder’s Joker, with Sonakshi Sinha. Yes, he does seem to do movies at a breakneck pace.
Our (gratuitous) advice: He should choose scripts wisely because that’s the only thing that will make or break him. Oh, also, host more good TV shows like Khatron Ke Khiladi and less nonsense like Masterchef India.
Missed the bus? Shahid Kapoor
When Shahid Kapur starred in Sooraj Bajratya’s Vivah in 2006, we thought he was on a roll! Yes, he did mess it up with that atrocity that was Fool n Final in 2007, but he came right back with a bang with Jab We Met, which became a blockbuster that is talked about even today (it also won him a Filmfare Best Actor Award). Just when we thought it couldn’t get any bigger, he blew us away with his riveting double role as a crook and his lisping brother in Vishal Bharadwaj’s Kaminey in 2009. So what happened then? A string of duds – Dil Bole Hadippa, Chance Pe Dance and Paathshala – from which his career never really recovered. We bemoan the loss of a superstar because with his superb acting skills, chocolate looks and ripped eight-packs, no one can deny that Shahid did have (still has?) superhero potential.
Twitter followers: 4,79,980
Google results: About 30,20,000
Hits and misses: Ever since he burst on to the big screen in 2000 with Kaho Naa…Pyaar Hai, Hrithik has had star status in Bollywood. But the films after the debut did poorly. A temporary reprieve came in the form of Karan Johar’s Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, then disappointments again. But then papa Rakesh Roshan had Hrithik befriend a plasticky-blue alien in Koi…Mil Gaya and Hrithik the hero was back. Though films like Kites and Guzaarish (which wasn’t exactly a bad movie, it just didn’t make too much money) were bad news, Hrithik got rave reviews for Krrish, Dhoom 2, Jodhaa Akbar and Luck By Chance.
Hot factor: ‘Greek God’, ‘Golden boy’, ‘Dances like greased lightning!’ These are the kind of comments Hrithik evokes.
Right moves: At the moment, none! Bold, offbeat roles like his latest in Guzaarish, where he plays a quadriplegic who seeks euthanasia, shows he’s willing to experiment, but when the film flops, the experiment boomerangs.
Wrong moves: Movies like Kites – it was supposed to launch Hrithik’s Hollywood career! Crossing over with bad films seems like a bad idea.
Up next: Zoya Akhtar’s Zindagi Na Mile Dobara opposite Katrina Kaif; Shekhar Kapur’s Paani, co-produced by Danny Boyle, co-starring Kristen Stewart and Christopher Waltz.
Our (gratuitous) advice: Choose scripts wisely. He’s had too many flops lately.
Lost the plot: John Abraham
We can’t remember the name of John’s last movie. Can you? What we do remember – vividly – is half of John’s butt in the scene where he pulled down his yellow swimming trunks in Dostana. He looked so hot that clearly everyone’s memory cells were fried, because no one can really remember what he did after that (except flash his butt again a year later in New York). Then he probably got tired of being half-naked all the time, so he donned some geek glasses and went on a massive promotional campaign for something called Sach Ya Jhootha, or Jooth or Sach... or wait, it was Jhootha Hi Sahi? As we said, can you remember?
Waiting in the wings: Imran Khan
Twitter followers: Not on Twitter
Google results: About 1,98,000
Hits and misses: It’s only been three years since he was launched in the industry, but Bollywood’s new chocolate box hero, Imran Khan, has managed to make a place for himself in every girl’s heart (and her aunty’s heart too). After being launched in uncle Aamir Khan’s home production Jaane Tu...Ya Jaane Naa (he picked up a Filmfare Best Male Debut Award for that one), his short filmography of just five films has had just two hits (Jaane Tu... and I Hate Luv Storys) and three misses (the disastrous Kidnap, Luck and Break Ke Baad). However, these are early days and the Junior Khan continues to ride the popularity wave (with pointers from Uncle Aamir, we’re sure).
Hot factor: He looks like a younger version of his already young-looking uncle, Aamir. Plus, his massive eyebrows are endearing, his sense of humour is charming and he ranks way up there when you think of the word ‘cute’.
Right moves: Playing it safe, choosing only big-banner commercial movies that will ensure he stays in the limelight.
Wrong moves: Maybe Imran needs to listen more carefully to Uncle Aamir’s advice about how to choose the right films.
Up next: Delhi Belly, produced by Aamir Khan and directed by Abhinay Deo.
Our (gratuitous) advice: Imran should choose his work with a little more care.
The crown prince? Ranbir Kapoor
Twitter followers: Not on Twitter
Google results: About 45,70,000
Hits and misses: He’s been in the industry just about three years, and his very first film, Saawariya, flopped. Yet everyone, including Amitabh Bachchan, believes Ranbir will be the next superstar. That is because, even in such a short span, Ranbir has managed to showcase a range of acting skills – from the exuberant role in the rom-com Bachna Ae Haseeno, to the realistic Wake Up Sid, to the irreverent Prem in Ajab Prem Ki Gajab Kahani, to the earnest and clever salesman Rocket Singh: Salesman Of The Year. Not to mention a mature and intense performance in Rajneeti.
Hot factor: He fits into the Brat Pitt category in our industry. He has droopy-poet eyes, a great lean body, great height, great lineage (the son of Rishi and Neetu Kapoor) and a heavy baritone. And he looks sensitive too. Team that with passion for cinema and acting skills and he’s hot.
Right moves: Ranbir Kapoor was never low-profile. Even as his debut movie, Sawaariya, flopped in 2007, his butt-baring, towel-dropping act catapulted him right into the audiences’ laps. Directors and producers talk of how hard he works and what a professional he is. He hasn’t been slotted as any particular type of hero and experiments intelligently.
Wrong moves: Too much is being made about his personal life and slew of girlfriends. At this stage, he needs to stay out of controversies and concentrate, concentrate, concentrate!
Up next: Imtiaz Ali’s Rockstar in which he plays Barfee, a rockstar.
Our (gratuitous) advice: Ranbir needs a career-defining role that will establish him once and for all in the industry. He should also do more films.
Alternate current: Abhay Deol
Though he is related to Bobby and Sunny Deol, Abhay has no star family baggage. He doesn’t talk about gymming, he is not conventionally good-looking, he hasn’t been trained in drama or dance. He just acts. And chooses roles that are more than zara hatke. The result? Abhay Deol has created a niche for himself in the industry, a space in which he experiments without worrying about whether he’s hero No. 1, 2 or 300.
Abhay debuted in 2005 with Ahista Ahista, a good movie, though it didn’t shake the box office. He stood out among the many actors in the ensemble cast of Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd. Next was Ek Chalis Ki Last Local opposite Neha Dhupia and he impressed the critics in Manorama Six Feet Under. But it was his National Award-winning role in Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! that first impressed both critics and audience. Abhay didn’t disappoint when he played a modern Devdas in Dev.D, but he did let us down in Aisha and Road. Still, audiences wait for his flashes of brilliance.
Late bloomer: Saif Ali Khan
When he arrived in Bollywood in 1992, Saif Ali Khan was seen as no more than his mama, Sharmila Tagore’s, boy, not exactly hero material. But a great performance almost 10 years later in Dil Chahta Hai made the audiences sit up and take notice. Since then Saif has blossomed into a suave and, dare we say, sexy actor. His look is a far cry from the boyish role he essayed in Dil Chahta Hai.
With the role of the rough and tough Langda Tyagi in Omkara and his romantic double role in Love Aaj Kal, Saifu has started coming into his own. Where, o where, was he all those years?