ADD

Letter from Lahore

My Hero Hrithik

Mehr Tarar is a well-known Pakistani columnist and author
Page 1 of 1

An actor beyond his body of work


Super 30 will take Hrithik Roshan beyond his persona and superstardom and gorgeous eyes and terrific body and superhuman stunts and heavenly dance, and finally make him the actor he has had the potential to be beyond the stereotypical swagger

HIS EYES WRITE poetry.
In little heart-shaped
whispers on the face of his
beloved.

His eyes speak in silence.
To the person standing in front
of him, not looking away, turning
words into confetti.

His eyes become the universe of
silent promises, beautiful tomorrows,
hidden sunsets, whispered laughter.
His eyes, softly, deeply, of a shade indescribable, transforms
his good-looking face into that perfect symmetry of features
that makes him who he is.
Hrithik Roshan is gorgeous. Period.
The rest is mere background music.

In a world full of actors we love for their X factor, that unquantifiable ability to just ‘be’ to make them our hero, those we applaud for their talent, those we eulogise for one particular type of cinema, those we marvel at for their art to become the role, those we love despite time, and those who own the screen and light up the screen with the power of their talent, there is always that one actor who beyond his talent and roles becomes that quintessential image of a big-screen hero. He is the pin-up idol. He is the one who with his appearance on the screen makes hearts go aflutter, knees go weak, eyes transfixed. He is the dream of what heroes are made of.

Hrithik Roshan is the only actor, in my opinion, beyond and before his talent and body of work,who is all this and more in the last many decades of Indian movies.

Changing the gender, there is only one woman, before and beyond her talent and body of work, who is all that and more: Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.

The way their film careers have panned out to date is also almost identical. Despite superstardom, both Hrithik and Aishwarya, to me, are two of the most underrated actors of the Indian film industry. The two of them together on screen are a sight to behold, their beauty incandescent, their chemistry undeniable, their reel interaction sizzling. They are that rarity of a superstar who own the screen and light up the screen with the power of beauty. Despite being arguably the best-looking male and female actors of their generation, the one before them and the one after them, and despite some splendid performances, both Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, oddly, have been put into that tiny box of the ‘beautiful’ to be ever given the due credit for their roles, hard work, dedication to their craft and strengthening and maturing as artists.

In 2000 and in 2019, you say the word ‘Hrithik’, and there conjures up the image of a beautiful man dancing, turning the movements of body to beats of music to that exquisite blend of the physical and the spiritual that has no name, no label, no expiry date. Hrithik’s dance is poetry in motion, ‘a wave out on the ocean’. What else is there to say...

Hrithik, 45, supremely fit with a jaw-dropping body, remains one of the biggest names of the Indian film industry, and that is not an easy feat to achieve having given dud after dud in the last few years. His choice of films made me wonder about his commitment to his craft, his work in those films made me shake my head with just one thought: so much effort, so much dedication, only to keep doing what he has almost always been doing: being Hrithik Roshan. That, I feel, is the story of this superstar in a few words.

Hrithik, 45, supremely fit with a jaw-dropping body, remains one of the biggest names of the Indian film industry, and that is not an easy feat to achieve having given dud after dud in the last few years

Hrithik Roshan’s biggest strength is also his Achilles’ heel: Hrithik never ceases to be Hrithik in a film. Hrithik doesn’t allow Hrithik to become the role. Hrithik the man with his Greek-god looks, sculpted body and every move stylised and intentional, doesn’t ever become the role. And at the end of each film, swooning and loving him in every frame, you know you have seen Hrithik Roshan, and not the man he was playing in the film. That might all change with Super 30.

In a film industry ruled by the three Khans—Aamir, Salman, Shah Rukh—for superstardom that, to date, remains a phenomenon intangible, whose encapsulation in a limited-word space is a task impossible;the unique stardom of Akshay Kumar, who from a frivolous khiladi of wooing sexy sirens and daredevil stunts has perfected the unchanging mechanism of reinvention of his craft; dominated later by the sheer magnetism and huge talent of Ranbir Kapoor; followed by all that and more of the incomparable Ranveer Singh, Hrithik has a stardom of his own, but it is a stardom that is seldom given a great deal of significance beyond the superficial.

What Hrithik had or has, not many superstars have that. Something or the other is lacking even in the biggest names of the Indian film industry: looks, personality, talent, body, action, dance, romance, screen presence, and that invaluable little thing known as the X factor. What Hrithik never seemed to have was the crazy fan following that similar-in-all-his-films-yet-enjoyed- stardom-that-was-unseen in India Salman Khan had. What Hrithik never seemed to have was the old to young, all-gender adulation and unadulterated love Shah Rukh Khan had.

What Hrithik never seemed to have was that drive of Aamir Khan to give a role his all, the actor who was and is in a league of his own when it comes to becoming the role letting go of every starry bit of being Aamir Khan. What Hrithik never seemed to have was the insatiable need to achieve artistic excellence that makes Ranveer Singh a cinematic delight in every new artistic avatar he explodes in on the screen every year.

Hrithik in almost all his films danced and moved and fought and stunned to give his all to the role: his all that was the outward manifestation of being an actor. As his body and stunts became more gasp-worthy, less was said about his acting talent. And that has been a constant in that one actor’s life who could have had it all, but strangely always seemed to be a role or two short of that. Or many.

The story of Hrithik’s film journey is a curious study of superlative stardom and of never really getting there. It is a curious tale of looking like a Greek god who seemed too narcissistic to have the realisation that longevity in cinema is not limited to having those impossibly sculpted abs and rescuing an airplane and damsels in distress flying in black leather, tousled hair stylishly highlighted.

And that is not to say that Hrithik never tried.

Hrithik Roshan changed the face of screen-blazing action in Yash Raj’s Dhoom 2 (2006). Bikes, babes, basketball, bad-ass stunts, Dhoom 2 is Hrithik Roshan the superstar all the way.

And in Rakesh Roshan’s 2003 super-hit Koi Mil Gaya, and 2006 and 2013 blockbusters Krrish and Krrish 3, respectively, Hrithik in his originally ET-inspired films showed that you need to be a Hrithik Roshan to make people hooked to Hollywood summer blockbusters to fall in love with an Indian superhero.

After a blockbuster debut in his father Rakesh Roshan’s Kaho Na Pyaar Hai in 2000, in the little-remembered Khalid Mohammed’s Fiza, Hrithik also in 2000 played the role of Aman, a Muslim young man who joins a terrorist group. The choice of that role in a female-centric movie in the very first year of his career was an early indication of Hrithik’s inclination to play offbeat roles, and he has tried to do that throughout his career despite being stereotyped as the muscled, dancing, fighting, leaping, a splendid hunk of a man who had his roles tailor-made for him. He tried the same in Mission Kashmir in 2000. When he went beyond the stereotype of a hero, there were no takers.

Super 30 will take Hrithik Roshan beyond his persona and superstardom and gorgeous eyes and terrific body and superhuman stunts and heavenly dance, and finally make him the actor he has had the potential to be beyond the stereotypical swagger

In Ashutosh Gowariker’s Jodha Akbar (2008), Hrithik as the legendary Mughal emperor Jalal-ud-din Akbar, gave a praiseworthy performance that was a fascinating manifestation of how much work had gone into learning the dos and don’ts of playing a king. Despite being a ‘semi-hit’, the film fails to move on many levels, and to me there is one little thing that plays a major part in that. What Hrithik and his director simply overlooked is a simple fact: in the world of an Aamir Khan and his Lagaan and Mangal Pandey and Rang De Basanti and Ghajini, your face looks like your face, not that of a 15th century Mughal emperor, and you don’t even really shorten or lengthen or drastically change your Hrithik hair, and expect to receive unadulterated accolades for your performance. Yes, the film bagged many popular awards, including those of best actor awards for Hrithik. My opinion remains unchanged.

It is almost painful to watch so much effort go to an artistic landfill when you move beyond the beautiful lyrics, meticulously crafted scenes, wonderfully articulated Urdu, and force your eyes off those indescribable eyes of Hrithik only to cringe at his Hrithik hair. To me, it is that huge a deal in a film that took so much of everyone, in various ways, associated with it.

It showed an unwillingness of Hrithik, the superstar to be overwhelmed by Hrithik, the actor. The casualty was—yes, only in my opinion—a solid performance fading into the actor’s off-screen persona.

IN SANJAY LEELA BHANSALI’S Guzaarish (2010), that little precious gem of a film that almost everyone loves to hate, Hrithik as Ethan Mascarenhas was luminous. A dark, poignant allegory of a body that was broken, draped in shadows that were dappled in loss and pain and longing and despair, Hrithik going beyond Hrithik through his eyes showed a world that was shattered, dreams that pricked the eyelids, tears that were like shards on the eyelashes. Hrithik who was known for his moves and dance and action lay still as the long-curly- haired, shattered Ethan, and gave the best performance of his career to date. Guzaarish went unheard, and was declared a ‘disaster’.

In Zoya Akhtar’s Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011), Hrithik’s Arjun Saluja, a departure from his usual roles, along with his co-stars showed that the age-old tales of friendship that survive everything, never lose their appeal. Another fabulous performance that did not receive the attention it justifiably deserved.

Then there was the 2012 Karan Malhotra’s Agneepath, a remake of the 1990 Mukul S Anand’s Amitabh Bachchan classic Agneepath. To make a remake of a Bachchan film is not to make an effort to make a better film, now that would be an exercise in redundancy. To make a remake of a Bachchan film is merely a tribute to that, arguably, the best actor and the biggest star of India. Hrithik despite his trademark, not-changing-for-any-role hair gave an enactment of Vijay Dinanath Chauhan that in varying shades was intense, stark, nuanced, menacing, inscrutable, vulnerable.

Ah, and I almost forgot that sweet little movie that I watched many times and unapologetically enjoyed for Hrithik’s Raj Khanna, Kunal Kohli’s Mujhse Dosti Karogi (2002). Hrithik in low-key moments, stuck in the dilemma of hidden love, expressed in his silences his huge potential to become a modern- day Rishi Kapoor along with beinga great action hero. That, sigh and damn, never happened.

Hrithik has had it all. Twenty-seven films—five as a child actor. The 2001 blockbuster Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham and the promising-but-tepid 2004 Lakshya (2004) and Kaabil (2017), and movies that barely made any sense: Yaadein (2001), Main Prem Ki Deewani Hoon (2003), Kites (2010), Bang Bang (2014), and Mohenjo Daro (2016). Now much awaited is Vikas Bahl’s Super 30, set for a July 2019 release.

Notwithstanding that uneasy reality of Pakistan-India current relationship dynamics that I won’t be able to watch the film in Lahore, as someone who loves Hrithik I hope Super 30 is a commercial and a critical success.

I’ve only seen a couple of stills of Super 30. And I’ve a feeling based on my immense love for films and that positive conviction in Hrithik’s yet-untapped huge talent as an actor that Super 30 will change the way his art is perceived. Super 30 will take Hrithik Roshan beyond his persona and superstardom and gorgeous eyes and terrific body and superhuman stunts and heavenly dance, and finally make him the actor he has had the potential to be beyond the stereotypical swagger and trappings of a mainstream filmy hero.

Waiting for that Hrithik with bated breath...

disqus