Talents of the 2010s, Male Edition, A Look Back and Who Will Rule the 2020s?

Thank you to Genevieve for asking an interesting question! I started to write her a long answer and then realized this could be an interesting post.

I’m going to start by doing kind of an over view of who arrived when and how, and then we can end by discussing who we see continuing to be important into the 2020s.

At midnight on 1/1/2010, as I remember it, there were two male stars who were jostling for the “Hrithik” position with hopes of jumping from there to the “Khan” position. Hrithik himself hadn’t had a release in 2 years and there was a lot of pressure on his next film Kites.

Meanwhile Shahid Kapoor was coming off of two critical/commercial hits, Jab We Met and Kaminey, and had just completed his first Yash Raj film Dil Bole Hadippa.

And Ranbir Kapoor, the New Kapoor, was only 3 years into his career and riding high Wake Up Sid, Rocket Singh, and Ajab Prem, all of them decent commercial hits and big critical hits.

And how about the Khans themselves? Shahrukh was on a down turn, record breaking hit 3 years earlier with Om Shanti Om, but then Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi was only a minor success and Billu was a disaster. Big hopes for his Karan Johar reunion My Name is Khan.

Aamir was King just then, coming off of 3 Idiots, but he had already announced a break of a few years for little Peepli Live and Dhobi Ghat and then Talaash, so folks knew there would be room for others.

Salman, after several rocky years, had one major hit with Wanted and two flops in 2009. It wasn’t clear if he was on his way back up or not.

Image result for 2010 filmfare awards ranbir"

Jumping ahead, what did things look like at Midnight on 1/1/2015?

Ranbir had his ups and downs. He wasn’t at the top yet, but he was leading the pack in 2015. Barfi! and Rockstar gave him critical acclaim, and Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani gave him massive box office success. But then he made Besheram which was such a shocking flop it left him treading water in 2015.

Shahid Kapoor similarly frittered away his leads. 2010, 2011, and 2012 were flop after flop after flop, most damaging the historic epic he made with his father that took over a year to film and lost a lot of money. He came back in 2013 with two modest action/comedy hits R…Rajkumar and Phata Poster Nikla Hero, and in 2014 he got his critical love back with Haider. But he was still struggling to reach the next level.

While Ranbir and Shahid were running place, two newcomers sprinted up to join them, Ranveer Singh and Varun Dhawan. Ranveer burst on the scene in 2010 with Band Baaja Baarat, immediately making an impact. His next film Ladies Versus Ricky Behl was only a modest hit, but it kept him in the minds of the public at a time when Ranbir and Shahid were fading a bit. Lootera gave him critical acclaim to rival Ranbir and Shahid’s, and that same year Ram-Leela gave him the blockbuster hit he needed. 2014 was a slack year for him, a modest hit with Gunday and a flop with Kill Dil, but savvy PR manouvers plus his new relationship with Deepika Padukone kept him ever present in the minds of the public.

Varun started slower than Ranveer but quickly caught up through pure different impact. He started in 2012 with Student of the Year where the industry watches quickly picked him out as the most talented of the three leads. After a year to gather his strength, in 2014 he burst forth with Main Tera Hero and Humpty Sharma announcing him as a major talent in both romance and comedy, and immediately bringing in the youth audience that was feeling left behind by Shahid and Ranbir and Ranveer’s angst. At midnight at the start of 2015, this young upstart looked like he could be the next big thing.

And Hrithik, what of him? The odd in between star straddling the youth generation and the established Khans? The one who is almost but not quite as famous as the Khans? He had a rough start to the decade, but righted his ship with Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara that gave him the kind of critical accolades he hadn’t had in years, and Agneepath that gave him both critical and commercial success. Bang Bang in 2014 was pure commercial hit, as was Krrish 3 the year before. The biggest challenge for his stardom at the moment was riding the waves of his divorce scandal, and avoiding criticism of being a brainless “just” commercial star based on the bad reviews for Bang Bang and Krrish 3. But his upcoming reunion with his Jodha-Akbar director for the historic epic Mohenjo Daro should fix that.

Finally, the Khans! Shahrukh had a rough 2011, after no films for over a year he released two back to back, the first a success but also a disappointment Ra.One, and the second a surprise record breaker Don 2. He followed that with Jab Tak Hain Jaan, a decent hit but one that left the audience feeling he had nothing new to say. And then 2013 brought Chennai Express, fresh and fun and record breaking, proving he still had commercial power. Followed by two films that tried to recapture that magic and failed, Dilwale and Happy New Year. While the box office for both was good, it wasn’t record breaking, and the critics weren’t in love with either film. By 2015, Shahrukh was being held up as an example of everything wrong with the old guard and why it was time for a fresh face.

Salman started the decade with a bang, after Wanted in 2009, he had Dabangg in 2010 and then Ready and Bodyguard in 2011 announcing himself as a new action star. Ek Tha Tiger and Dabangg 2 in 2012 brought “Bhai fever” to new heights, even the critics were liking his stuff as good solid Masala. 2013 and 2014 were weak years, no release at all in 2013 and 2014 had Kick, his worst box office in years. Perhaps because of that, he took a risk on two more family oriented films in 2015, and at midnight that year the question for everyone was if the most stable of the Khans would be able to continue his box office hit record or would fade away.

Aamir was solidly established as the quality over quantity star at this moment. He started the decade with modest films, Dhobhi Ghat and Talaash. And then he went big again in 2013 with Dhoom 3 followed by PK in 2014. Both massive box office record breakers, but without the critical acclaim of his other work. An Aamir film could still bring in the people who “don’t really watch Hindi films” because he was better than the other stars, but the critics weren’t quite as enamored of him, and the industry as a whole was cautious about someone who only released a film every few years. They needed new blood.

Image result for 2015 filmfare covers"

And finally, Midnight on 1/1/2020!

In the last ten years, the stars who started, Shahid and Ranbir, have found their natural level. Shahid started the decade with hits and critical acclaim, went up and down over the years, but is ending it solidly established as an actor who has a permanent level of fame, and a permanent level of talent. The downside is, he reached that point by accepting he would never be a Khan, or even a Hrithik. Taking the co-lead role in Padmavat, Udta Punjab, and Rangoon rather than holding out for a sole lead, let him be a part of big films and get back his critical acclaim and name recognition. Kabir Singh was a big blockbuster film for him, but the credit was given to his performance, and the script, NOT to name recognition alone. Also during this decade, Shahid married and started a family, further restructuring himself from “next young hot thing” to “stable family man”. Shahid is going into 2020 as an actor who will always be famous and always be working, but will never be the Most Famous.

Ranbir ended the decade in a very different place than where he started. He had two major hits in the second half, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani and Sanju, and one solid film Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. But he also had the massive flop Jagga Jasoos, the disappointment Tamasha, and just plain didn’t work as much as he should have. More importantly, his personal life was a roller coaster that left the public feeling more interested in him as a playboy than a movie star. Going into the 2020s, his personal life is more dramatic than ever, and his career is in limbo as his last film was a major hit, but his next film seems like it will never release. Certainly it seems unlikely that his career will grow beyond the point of “big name who makes one movie every two years” to the level of controlling the industry.

And then there’s Ranveer. Excellently positioned at this moment in every way. A history of a wide variety of films all of them hits, a personal life that is stable and yet not boring, and coming up in 2020 he has a potentially massive blockbuster with his Cricket saga, his first biopic. He’s had ten years and still hasn’t reached “his name alone guarantees opening day box office” point, but he is getting awfully close.

Varun, after an exciting entry, has slowed down quite a bit. The first half of the decade was All About Varun. He not only had commercial success, but critical success with Badlapur. But then Badrinath and Judwaa 2, while hits, were not quite the hits people were hoping for. October was not quite the critical hit he was hoping for either. And finally he ended the decade with Kalank and Sui Dhaaga, two forgettable films that ate up precious work time. Varun will have to struggle hard to make up his lost ground and catch up to Ranveer after this.

Ranveer and Varun might have been feeling pretty cocky in 2015, but they didn’t realize their next rivals were already quietly working away. Ayushmann Khurrana was launched in 2012 in a surprise sleeper hit Vicky Donor. The focus was more on the film as a whole and its unusual topic (sperm donation) than on this odd singer/VJ from Delhi who played the lead. The next two years saw two flops for Ayushmann, and he looked likely to disappear as a one hit wonder. And then came Dum Lage Ke Haisha mid-decade. A solid success, a very different film, and Ayushmann’s name was being mentioned again. DLKH essentially restarted Ayushmann’s career and he took advantage of that, no films at all in 2016 but then 2-3 films every year since then. Ayushmann, without any bells and whistles or effort to sell his private life (married with kids at the time of his first film already), has rapidly become the young star most likely to be able to “open” a film. The audience knows what an “Ayushmann” film will be like and that they will like it.

And then there’s Rajkummar Rao. His first film role, which got him critical attention, was LSD in 2010. But after that, he just kept being offered small parts where the critics noticed him and no one else did. Kai Po Che in 2013 should have been his break out, but it wasn’t. In the end it was the dangerous brilliant art film Shahid that put him front and center. Followed by a semi-mainstream film Queen that resulted in interviews and articles allowing the public to finally know the man behind these performances. His lowkey charm kept him going for another three years until his break out year of 2017. People liked Rajkummar’s humility, his willingness to take unusual roles in small films, and his sweet love story with his CityLights co-star Patralekha. And then in 2017 Bareilly Ki Barfi, where he stole the screen from the “hero” Ayushmann, announced him as a major new talent. Stree in 2018 made him a solid box office proposition. 2019 has been hard on him, 3 flops that didn’t even get critical acclaim (Ek Ladki, Judgementall, Made in China), but he still has some goodwill to burn. If he manages to recover with a solid performance in a successful film in 2020 that, combined with his general popularity, could give him some real box office heft and industry power.

And then there’s Vicky Kaushal, the latest entry. His first name role was in a small part in Anurag Kashyap’s Bombay Velvet in 2015. An industry kid, he grew up on film sets but as a craftsman’s son, not a major player. He put in his time as assistant director and so on, then took the small role in BV. Which lead to him being offered a lead role in a promising art film produced by the director of Bombay Velvet, Masaan. The critics sat up and took notice of his performance, and the industry sat up and took notice of his charisma. He was cast again in a supporting role by Anurag in Raman Raghav in 2016, and then finally in 2018 he broke through with his love interest part in Raazi. Followed by Sanju and Manmarziyaan, all the same year, each of them letting him shine in what should have been a supporting role. And then in 2019 he had his first lead role in what turned into one of the hits of the year, Uri. But his biggest problem going into 2020 is that Uri was an action film and his upcoming film is an action film as well. If he wants to be an action star, he is well on the way. But if he wants to be an all around star, he needs to focus on variety in 2020. Put his name and face in front of fans of all genres, not just one.

Tiger Shroff is the most mercurial. His first film was solid but not spectacular, Heropanti in 2014, then nothing in 2015 as he prepared for his next roles. 2016 was a mixed bag, Baaghi was surprise hit among the young male audience, but The Flying Jatt was a flop. Munna Michael in 2017 was a disaster in every way. And then in 2018 Tiger’s Baaghi 2 broke past all expectations, giving him a box office hit that beat the Khans and Hrithik’s records, not to mention Varun, Ranveer, Ranbir, etc. If he had maintained that level, he would be the next big thing, no question. But 2019 saw him take the lead in a flop (Student of the Year 2), and the second role in a hit where the lead far over shadowed him. On the other hand, his talent as an actor, dancer, and fighter has grown enormously in just the past 5 years. Who is to say where he might be 5 years from now?

Hrithik, surprisingly, has had the biggest changes over the past 10 years! For the last 5, his fate has been tied up with Tiger. Tiger was seen as the “next Hrithik”, younger and stronger and better. While Hrithik’s films flopped, or were trapped in production, Tiger seemed like a better option. And then the two of them were put in a film together and Hrithik proved that the old guard still had power. It’s not so easy to unseat a King, even a half-king like Hrithik. Going into 2020, Hrithik is in a better position that he has been since his launch in 2001. It may have taken 20 years, but this could finally be the decade when Hrithik leaps levels and kills the Khans.

Shahrukh Khan is in the worst situation of his career right now. Kind of. On the one hand, the combination of flops and disappointments over time is worse than ever before, he hasn’t broken a record since 2013, and Dilwale and Happy New Year both did good business but not as good as expected. He hasn’t had a universally loved and acclaimed film in 7 years, and that’s really bad. On the other hand, his previous series of flops back at the turn of the century happened when he was trying to get his studio off the ground and generally fighting for a place in the industry. Purely as a film actor, Shahrukh has less power than ever. But as a Movie Star, complete with fame, fortune, and power, he has grown with ever year. But he may be ready to step back from the active role and go behind the curtain, supporting younger actors for the next decade.

Aamir Khan is in a bad place too. His system for the past decade was very few films, but major hits. Until Thugs of Hindostan became a major flop instead. If his next film is another record breaking hit, then he will be back on solid ground for the next decade. If his next film is another record breaking flop, then he will be moved back several steps and will have to fight his way back.

And then there’s Salman. He was the Top Khan for the whole decade of the 2010s, hit after hit after hit. And he’s basically still there! Bajrangi Bhaijaan in 2015, Tiger Zinda Hai in 2017, he’s still setting records. And Bharat and Dabangg 3 this year both did decent. However, over all, he’s had a slight slide in the past few years as the younger generation has risen to him. Hrithik and Tiger’s action hits are right in the Salman comfort zone, and Varun’s the new face of Salman-style comedy. He’s going to have to work a little harder to maintain his place in the upcoming years.

Image result for 2019 filmfare covers"

So, that’s where we are!

2010, the three Khans were on top with Hrithik running right behind, and Ranbir and Shahid chasing Hrithik.

2020, the three Khans are still on top with Hrithik even closer behind, Ranbir and Shahid dropped to their own race track to the side, Ranveer and Varun right on Hrithik’s tail, and Ayushmann and Rajkummar and Vicky closely following, with Tiger suddenly dropping to 5th place but with a possibility of making up ground.

29 thoughts on “Talents of the 2010s, Male Edition, A Look Back and Who Will Rule the 2020s?

  1. Love these time capsule posts, so thank you! Even if I’m not sure I get to claim credit for inspiration?

    I don’t know what I expect in the next five years. Hm. The months that pass with no word from SRK feel longer as time goes by. Could go either way – back to a couple of movies in a year to lower the stakes, or a hibernation period. He loves acting and movies so much he’ll be back at some point and relevant but maybe not as the take your money to the bank monster hitmaker. Salman will keep doing Salman until he can’t anymore. Aamir will figure a way, I think. He’s going for the Tom Hanks track, now literally. He may or may not find his massive hits again but he’ll figure out a way to stay active and influential.

    Agree on Shahid. He’s found his way of working. Ranbir too, unless Alisa is right and he’s doing something more self destructive. Kind of sad, but I’m not sure I see a happier Ranbir as a likely outcome. Either same slow pace with lots of down time or possible derailment. Or maybe I’m totally misreading him, but since we’re making predictions.

    Hrithik has a few good years left. Forgive me if I doubt his ability to sustain the star lead as he gets into less sexy older phase. (Shahid still gets parts based on his looks and dancing ability too, but there’s no comparison on the acting.) I think he’ll still get cast because he shows up and puts in solid work and people are fond of him – he has a certain charm and vulnerability – but it will move into supporting roles and smaller parts at some point. Maybe he’ll turn into the go-to dad?

    The new crop: I hadn’t thought of how nicely Ranveer has set himself up, but you make good points. I doubt whether Khan levels are even possible to attain anymore, but whatever the new thing looks like he does seem cleverly positioned, if he can keep his streak of picking good roles. I like Varun, but I haven’t seen anything yet that convinces me he has real versatility, and I’m not sure likeability is enough to carry him through. Maybe? It feels like versatility is really key in this moment, you have to be able to play well on all size screens, and in enough different kinds of roles that you can make a place for yourself as the audience cycles quickly through tastes and trends.

    Speaking of which, I’d bet on everymen Ayushman and Rajkumar as safest for longevity. Especially Rajkumar, points again for versatility. Not sure I believe them as long term film-carrying stars in the Khan model, but I do think they could have their moments, respectively, and I think we’ll be seeing them for a long time.

    Tiger has his place and he’s a moneymaker. If he’s smart about his film choices, or has good advice, he’ll do just fine. There will always be action films, and he’s beautiful to watch when he’s in motion. I don’t share your optimism that he’ll turn into a real actor. (Think he could do action comedy? He’d have to work on expressing with his face. That would help him mix things up a bit. There’s the Rock kind of action career and there’s the Steven Segal kind of action career. The former is more money, more audience, more crossover.)

    I’m partial to Vicky. I think he’s scrappy, and he’s got the looks, talent, and sex appeal. I’ll bet on him as my dark horse to break through to superstardom. Not Khan level, but giving Ranveer a run for his money, and opening big films.

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    • Shoot! It was Genevieve and I gave it to you. And a while back I gave Alisa credit for one of your ideas. Look for a post wrongfully attributed to Genevieve at some point in the future as I continue to try to work off my attribution debt.

      Love all your thoughts! With Vicky, the biggest thing I noticed when putting this together is that Vicky was the most recent and the fastest. His first mainstream role was Raazi, and that was supporting. Manmarziyaan was barely mainstream, and again a supporting role (although a showy one). Uri was his first lead role and his first big hit, and yet people are already talking about him at the same level as all these others who have been working for years.

      On Thu, Jan 16, 2020 at 12:30 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  2. I know this is blasphemy, but I just want to get rid of the Khans and Akshay and the old ways, and into a new kind of stardom.

    Rajkummar is starting to get funny-looking, so my money is on Ayushmann and Vicky, maybe also Tiger if he can sort himself out but I don’t think he has the brains to be a huge star and he doesn’t have a Svengali to have the brains for him. The rest are all on the way down imo, except Varun but I hate him.

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  3. You forgot to mention Akshay & Ajay. They both have had remarkable 2010s and ended even stronger than they started. They are both 50+ yet are far better preserved than the Khans. The biggest plus is that they’ve each figured out for themselves how a middle aged man can be a bankable lead hero in the current content-focused era. Patriotism, historicals, slapstick comedy, action comedy (if you are in shape), and films where a cop, detective, taxman, con/heist artist, politician, or lawyer is the lead, all work perfectly at 50+. I see Akshay & Ajay being the Khans of the next 5 years. Ayushmann’s brand of cinema – quirky topic in a small town or “inner city” neighborhood – will grow repetitive after a while, though I think it will always have a single screen audience. He’ll either go down with the genre, or he’ll roll with the punches and morph his career to suit the needs of whatever era he’s in. That way I see him managing his career like Akshay has his. And I see Shahid managing his career like Ajay – like Akshay but more actor-y, more genre variety, more risk taking, more surprise hits, more sleeper hits, more unusual collabs, and his share of flops and bad choices as well. In another 10+ years he might even find his middle aged Tabu equivalent to costar/collab with on multiple projects… maybe Anushka?

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    • I considered Ajay-Akshay, but then I realized they didn’t really change places. If I am looking at this as a race, Ajay and Akshay have been chugging along on their own parallel tracks since the mid-90s. Hrithik is sort of floating half on and half off the track behind the Khans, and these youngsters are absolutely chugging behind trying to reach the top.

      Love your thought of Ayushmann/Shahid being the new Ajay-Akshay. Especially since I feel like Shahid has officially pulled himself from the “Race for the top” kind of roles, similar to Ajay. He does good work in a whole variety of movies and isn’t sweating the status.

      On Thu, Jan 16, 2020 at 7:49 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  4. I think we should also include Karthik Aaryan. He started in 2011 in the movies nobody took seriously, and slowly, year after year made his name, and now he is everywhere. Being honest I don’t like him and don’t understand why he has become so popular but I was checking some movies on IMDB today and discovered he will be in Bhool Bhulaiyya 2, Love Aaj Kal 2 and Dostana 2 (like really?) .

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    • There is a decent chance that if you watch Akaash Vaani it might become one of your favorite films. It’s a low budget romance with attractive people with good hair. Well, Kartik is kind of skinny and teenage looking (because he was a teenager) but Nushrat has great hair.

      Wouldn’t it be interesting if Vicky and Kartik end up ruling the 2020s?

      On Thu, Jan 16, 2020 at 9:43 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I saw Akaash Vani and didn’t like nor the movie nor Karthik. Yes, the film had a great speach in the end, but all the rest was too unbalanced – first too sugary, then too dark and unpleasant. Karthik mostly only smiled like in a toothpaste ad.
        I hope he won’t be the one who will rule the 2020.

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        • Aw man! I kind of like Karthik. But I will wait and see if he ever does a more “Angie” style movie. Right now I can’t think of any roles of his that you would like.

          On Thu, Jan 16, 2020 at 11:50 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  5. Awesome post, thank you Margaret! I admit to having a soft spot for Vicky. He is so beautiful, but when the camera is on him I notice what he is doing more than his prettiness. I was wondering if anyone could ever replace the Khans? Three major stars with the same last name who are famous at the same time. If it was just about fame wouldn’t Hrithik be a Khan? Did the Khan’s replace another trio of famous actors? Regardless of how much money their future movies make, they are always going to be relevant.

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    • Quick history of the reigns of Hindi film:

      In the late 40s/early 50s when Hindi cinema first became established, there was a trio that ruled in a way spookily similar to the Khans now: Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand, Dilip Kumar. They all were born the same year, they all launched the same year (just like the Khans). Raj was like Aamir, big blockbuster record breaking hits that combined social messages with popularity and crossed international barriers. Dev was like Salman, fun light movies, constantly reinventing himself, refused to grow old. And Dilip Sahib is like Shahrukh, which is why they are so close today (Dilip is the only one still alive, he’s in his 90s). The three of them ruled into the mid-60s, until they started getting too old. Dilip took a break and came back as older character roles, Dev kept on chugging just at a lower level of popularity, and Raj switched to directing/producing full time.

      And then Rajesh Khanna happened in 1969. At the time, the common wisdom was that no one male star could equal the combined power of Raj-Dev-Dilip, and then BOOM! One star did! Rajesh was on top for about 4 years, but unfortunately Rajesh (while extremely charismatic onscreen) was a total a—hole who everyone came to hate in the industry. If he’d worked harder and grown as an artist and listened to others, he could have been on top a lot longer.

      Just as folks were getting sick of him, Amitabh burst on the scene in 1974. Amitabh was the real miracle man, over a decade he ruled the entire industry single-handed. And again, common wisdom became that Hindi film couldn’t survive without him, there was no way forward. Until, boom! 1988, all three Khans appeared bam bam bam. By 1994, it was clear they were the new trinity that would rule the industry.

      The Khans are drifting down now, but there’s this kind of certainty/hope that something unexpected will happen to carry Hindi film forward, just because it’s happened every time before this in ways no one expected. And often not overnight, it took years of actors having the kind of careers that Vicky, Rajkummar, Ranveer are having before there was that one hit that confirmed their status.

      On Thu, Jan 16, 2020 at 10:26 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • So Hindi Film essentially has its own rotating holy trinity. But if the pattern holds it will be a single god who would rule for the next decade before a new trinity emerges.

        But underneath this superstardom quest is the idea that Hindi Film needs a trinity, or a giant actor god to survive. Would people stop watching Hindi Films if there were no super major stars? The US has no equivalent to the Hindi film stars. Brad Pitt, a name everyone recognizes, does not get the hero worship of Amitabh.

        What I’m curious to see, as an outsider, is as streaming changes the market, populations continue to flood to urban centers, single screen theaters with benches become more and more a rural only experience, will this change India’s perceptions of its actors? Funny how I find Hindi cinema so much more interesting than Hollywood.

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        • Hindi Film was originally star based because the funding was so funky. That is, the best way to guarantee a hit film was to have a big star, so all the one time producers wanted a star and were willing to do whatever it took to get one. Which meant the stars became enormously powerful and films were tailored more for them than anything, which meant the audience learned more and more to identify with stars in order to pick what film they wanted to see (“let’s watch a Dilip Kumar movie, it will be so tragic and beautiful”), which lead to stars having even more box office power, which lead to more real power, which lead to more control over their films and on and on and on.

          Plus, Raj and Dev and Dilip really were freakish. The star system wouldn’t have been founded, or lasted, if those three hadn’t happened to be uniquely able to direct the industry.

          Amitabh was something different, unlike Raj and Dev and Dilip he never directed and didn’t found a studio until after his stardom. But the Amitabh “Image” sort of became bigger than the man himself and his spirit inspired everyone.

          Logic says that the age of the stars is over now because the studios finally have the power they have been wanting all along. Studios don’t want big stars, it puts the balance of power all wonky. But then, logic says the three 22 year old actors who happened to be most popular in 1947 shouldn’t have all also happened to have the talent to found studios, write scripts, and everything else. But they did. And logic says that one actor who never wrote or directed shouldn’t have been able to control a whole film industry. But he did. And logic certainly says that the same pattern of three young actors born the same year launched the same year would not happen again, but it did. So, who knows! Faith over logic.

          Oh, and what’s really interesting (to me) is that Tamil cinema has a similar but different pattern. As the other major industry in India, it is always ruled by 2. A “class” and a “mass” star, which is now just finishing up the second generation (Kamal Haasan and RAjinikanth) and moving into the third generation (Vijay and someone else I can’t remember). Again, the times bring forth the man in an almost magical way.

          On Thu, Jan 16, 2020 at 12:07 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  6. I watched an Ajay & Kajol interview last night where they said the age of superstardom was over, and I thought that was rich coming from two stars. But now, after reading all this, their statement makes more sense, even if it can’t be taken as complete truth. It is fascinating.

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  7. Do you know on who I would put my money when it comes to the next big thing? Vijay Devarakonda. He has a full package: he is beautiful, super sexy and talented. Yeah I know he works only in telugu for now, but he visits Mumbai parties and events often, and I’m sure he is ambitious and wants more stardom. I also can’t think about more charismatic actor. I personally hate his interviews and don’t like him as a person but I forget about everything when I see him on screen. He can give a run for their money a every Varun, Karthik or Tiger.

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      • I still have not finished Dear Comrade. But it’s not Vijay’s fault it’s more because I wasn’t in a mood for this kind of movie.
        IMO he has this something that makes you ask: who is this guy? I want to know more about him.

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  8. Remember way back in like 2017 or so, we had a discussion of who would be the next trio of stars? I tried to find the post where we talked about this but I couldn’t find it. I remember we said that Ranbir, Ranveer, and Varun were like a mix of the three Khans. I think I also said that Tiger was the next Hrithik, Ayushmann was the next Akshay, Sushant was the next Shahid, and Arjun was the next Ajay Devgn. Things look a lot different now.

    I agree that Ranveer has positioned himself to be at the top but I still feel like there needs to be more consistency from him before I consider him to really be a true superstar. Right now, his movies seem so spread apart that you forget about him in between his movies.

    I agree that Ranbir has probably plateaued and I don’t see him getting any bigger than he currently is either. Same with Shahid to be honest.

    Coming to Varun, I feel like his script selection is not ideal for someone who wants to become a star and I think he’s on the trajectory to becoming an Akshay level star if he keeps doing the types of films he’s doing. Varun wants to be a star but he hasn’t really attempted a single massy action movie yet (unlike Ranveer with Gunday and Simmba). He’s done comedies with action in them but he hasn’t done a full on action movie yet and that’s holding him back. Varun also hasn’t done any biopics because he doesn’t want to do them and I feel like doing a biopic is a really easy way to build up your stature as well. He is finally doing a biopic but it’s a Sriram Raghavan movie so it’s probably not going to be a huge crowdpleaser. After that he has the comedy thriller with Shashank Khaitan which looks fun but it’s still a comedy. Anyway, Varun’s lineup looks like a lot of fun but I don’t know if it’s enough to bring back into the race.

    I think even though he has had a couple rough years, Tiger is still the only young actor that is consistently making action movies and that is gonna keep him steadily at the top. Ayushmann’s and Rajkummar’s versatility will probably keep them where they are as well.

    What happened to Arjun?!? It’s almost as if he totally disappeared. I think he, Aditya Roy Kapur, and Sid Malhotra will continue to be stuck in their tier but if someone has a chance to break out again, I’m betting on Sid.

    In the end, I agree that Vicky Kaushal is probably primed to being the best competition for Ranveer along with Tiger in a way. After that it’s Varun, but he needs to hit it out of the park with Street Dancer and his next couple of movies to catch up. My dark horse is probably Sid because he still has the Dharma backing and he has been trying to do more commercial stuff and I think he has a couple of action movies coming up to give Tiger some competition.

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    • Ranveer and Varun I think both landed in a terrible place with film releases the past 2 years (since our 2017 discussion) and Rajkummar and Ayushmann and Vicky have benefited from it. Another way that timing counts. ’83 is taking so freakishly long to complete that Ranveer feels like he disappeared, even though Gully Boy is still less than a year ago. And Varun ran into a similar problem with Kalank, took a lot of time to film and then was such a flop people forgot about it immediately so it feels like even longer since his last movie. Meanwhile Rajkummar and Ayushmann are just cranking out films in the same period, and Vicky has 5 buzzy releases during the same time that Varun and Ranveer are mostly MIA. Ayushmann had a far busier 2017 than 2018, but I feel like 2018 was more his break out year just because 2017 also had Badrinath and Judwaa 2 so Varun was still getting more of the buzz. Oh, and Sushant just can’t seem to catch a break, everything is delayed or controversial or just plain flops. He’s still getting good roles, but somehow nothing hits and we only remember him for his gossip more than his performances.

      I’m gonna go completely off the reservation and also wonder if maybe Natasha is holding Varun back? That sounds terrible, but if his films are going to be spread out like this, he needs to keep himself in the public eye between movies. He doesn’t have the luxury of keeping his private life private. An active instagram account with lots of fun “perfect life” vacation photos would do wonders for his career. Or, failing that, more quick trashy movies. I think he is trying to maintain a certain quality level in his films, which is great but it means there aren’t as many of them. I think Ranveer cranked out Simmba in like two and a half months, Varun needs more movies on that kind of schedule.

      Tiger really is the only action star around, huh! You are right! Well, that’s a nice solid career insurance, that there is just no one else. And Vidyut Jammwal, I just discovered, is 39!!! So even if he reaches Tiger levels, Tiger is just plain going to outlive him.

      Yes to Arjun! He had a big historical film which takes time, but not as much time as he seemed to be taking. I think he just doesn’t have the fire inside and we can safely write him off completely.

      I am really enjoying Sid’s development. I don’t think he will reach the top, but I think he might have a longer and more interesting career than everyone else we’ve talked about. Like John Abraham, never going to be top-top, but does really interesting stuff and quietly challenges himself as an artist.

      On Thu, Jan 23, 2020 at 12:47 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

      >

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      • That’s a good point how Vicky, Ayushmann, and Rajkummar have more releases per year. So even if a movie doesn’t work, they have other movies that come out soon that will keep people talking about them. Also Sushant’s only hit recently, Chichhore seems to have been more of an ensemble film which is why people have kind of forgotten about him. But seriously speaking, I think the only time Sushant had huge buzz was when Dhoni came out until Raabta came out. Raabta flopping really hurt his chances of taking the next big step.

        I agree that it does sound terrible but I do agree that Natasha being who she is doesn’t help much. I know so many people that first heard of Ranveer as being Deepika’s boyfriend and now know him mainly as Deepika’s husband. But I do think it’s mostly Varun that hates the idea of people talking about his personal life and Natasha has no interest in the spotlight either. I mean, I don’t think it’s like Shahid and his wife where even though she’s not from the industry, she’s still fine with being in the spotlight.

        Tiger is really in a secure position even though he got outshone by Hrithik. I don’t see any of the newish people like Kartik Aaryan or Ishaan Khattar becoming action stars either. Oh by the way, what happened to Sooraj Pancholi?

        Yeah, I think I’m over Arjun. He should probably help his dad produce, help his sister’s career, and occasionally act in an Anees Bazmee comedy just to keep up appearances. Basically have a 2010s Abhishek Bachchan like career.

        Yes, I can see him doing something similar to John Abraham. Who do you think out of the young actors do you think would produce small movies like John Abraham? I could see Ranveer try to do that but I don’t know if he’d be successful.

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        • I think Ayushmann might turn out to be an excellent producer. As an actor, his script choices have been phenomenal. If he starts producing “Ayushmann style movies” instead of just starring in “Ayushmann style movies”, he could be even more successful.

          I think it’s not just that Vicky-Rajkummar-Ayushmann have more releases, it’s that they were lucky enough to have them in the right years. Just when their main competition among the younger set had fewer releases. That’s just luck, good for them and bad for Varun-Ranveer.

          Glad I’m not the only person thinking about how Natasha is a lovely girlfriend but not a good PR tool! Makes me feel less bad. It seems like Varun’s private life is largely Natasha-based too, so her not being happy with the spotlight wipes out a whole category of publicity for him. On the other hand, he seems like a very centered stable young actor so in the long run it is probably worth it if she is the person who makes him happy. Versus Ranbir or Salman or all those other actors who always had very high profile relationships that fizzled and drove them into drama and depression and things.

          Sooraj Pancholi was, I think, just a messy unpleasant person. Salman stood by him but he didn’t have the talent or charm for anyone else to cast him.

          On Thu, Jan 23, 2020 at 4:29 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Oh yeah, Ayushmann does have good script sense. I could see him becoming a producer.

            Yeah, I’m glad that Varun’s not into having high profile relationships that the media analyzes with a magnifying glass. David Dhawan sort of hinted that they’ll get married either this year or next so that’s exciting.

            Oh yeah, I just thought that Salman’s support would have gotten him another couple of movies after his launch.

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