Friday, May 18, 2007
The success stories of puppy fat and pimply romance are gone. It's the more mature guys who are making the blood rush now.
Gone are the days when we used to watch 'puppy-love' movies like Bobby, Prem Rog or Love 86 with teenage lead pairs singing and running around the trees. The focus from lead actors in their late teens or early 20s has shifted to more mature looking heroes and heroines in their 30s. And all those Rishi Kapoors and Kumar Gauravs with puppy fat and chubby cheeks have given way to more serious 'men' lookers like Hrithik Roshans and Abhishek Bachchans. And even these superstars of the transition period have earned their place in the sun after plenty of struggle. In other words, by crossing the lean phase of their 20s!
In early 2000, when 26-year-old Hrithik Roshan blazed up the Indian screens with Kaho Naa...Pyaar Hai, critics and audiences alike felt that a new star was born. But when his releases thereafter weren't received as positively, he was quickly written off as a one-film wonder. The success of Koi...Mil Gaya in 2003 made his detractors say that the light-eyed actor only excels in his dad Rakesh Roshan's films. But 2006 changed all that. Krissh, Dhoom: 2 and upcoming biggies like Jodha Akbar and Krrish 3 have pushed Hrithik to the Most Wanted League. And he is also now being considered a versatile actor who excels both in positive and negative roles. Critics have somersaulted and now say that it was only Hrithik who could have made "two scriptless films" reach the target of over Rs 100 crore in the year gone by. The actor, now all of 33 years, is being christened "the most valuable person in the industry" and "the sexiest man alive". For Hrithik Roshan, the 30s have obviously been a magic phase.
For Bachchan Junior, too, things haven't been different. Audiences which had rejected Abhishek in his prime 20s in film after flop film, are now accepting his movies with open arms. Reportedly, he got over 3 lakh mails a month, which contained kundlis and marriage proposals( of course, that was before he tied the knot with Aishwarya Rai). A movie critic, who once ridiculed him, saying, "Since the time Abhishek Bachchan has started acting, every roadside loafer now thinks he can be a hero," is now raving about his performances in movies like Bunty Aur Babli, Bluffmaster! and Guru.
Saif Ali Khan's story is another actor who fumbled into the 30s and only then earned his spurs. Even being Sharmila Tagore's son couldn't stop people from writing off the Chhote Nawab after a score of flops in a row. For years, the media awaited his announcement to retire hurt when most of the producers refused to sign him for any of their movies. But one Dil Chahta Hai was enough to silence everyone. With his solo act in Hum Tum and the national award for best actor thereafter, he further consolidated his position. Now he is considered an able actor along with being a bankable star with eye-catching performances in Ek Hasina Thi, the English film, Being Cyrus, Ta Ra Rum Pum and the film that got confetti showered on him, Omkara.
So what made Saif the Waif a superstar? "Times have changed. Saif has become mature; he gave his first hit when he had just crossed 30. He is now 37 and in the last seven years, he has been an integral part of about 10 films which rocked the box-office," says a producer on whose door Saif used to religiously knock for a film. "In fact, all the heroes - Hrithik Roshan, Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgan, John Abraham, Akshaye Khanna, Arjun Rampal, Abhishek Bachchan and even Shiney Ahuja - are considered 30-plus hot commodities. Actually, you learn a lot about the rules of Bollywood, from acting to presentation to marketing, as you get older playing the game here," he continues. Like, the same Saif now doesn't even answer his phonecalls!