And here’s Part 2 of the post on Ranbir Kapoor and his onscreen romances….
· Rocket Singh – Salesman of the Year: In 2010, Ranbir won the Filmfare Critics’ Choice Best Actor award for his performances in his three releases from 2009: ‘Wake Up Sid’, ‘Ajab Prem...’ and ‘Rocket Singh’. Impressive as it was that Ranbir had three really good performances in one year, I really don’t think he should have won the award on the strength of all three. While he was good in ‘Ajab Prem...’ and very good in ‘Wake Up Sid’, I personally think his ‘Rocket Singh’ performance was the best of the three and definitely award-worthy. Ranbir disappeared into the character of Harpreet Singh Bedi beautifully, and rendered an understated but powerful performance in this film (directed by Shimit Amin and scripted by Jaideep Sahni).
I like ‘Rocket Singh’ a lot... it’s one of my favourites from Ranbir’s filmography so far. It’s really well-scripted and engaging, and it has wonderful performances from the supporting cast - Manish Chowdhary, D. Santosh, Gauhar Khan, Mukesh Bhatt, Naveen Kaushik and Prem Chopra, with Ranbir doing an excellent job of ‘anchoring’ the cast.
I also really like the film’s subject matter – it’s an engaging and thought-provoking look at many things – the modern-day workplace and the power politics and dynamics within it, the pursuit of self-fulfilment vis-à-vis more ‘practical’ interests, entrepreneurship, education, competition.... I also liked the shades of grey in the story... the fact that we really couldn’t root for the hero in good conscience because he was doing something wrong, and the fact that the villains turned out to be much more than cardboard cut-outs. I liked that we got to see Harpreet grow over time and learn more about himself and the world. Ranbir did a great job of expressing his character’s emotions throughout the film. And of course I loved Ranbir’s look....
But on to Ranbir and his ladylove in this film.... Shimit Amin’s 2007 hit, ‘Chak De! India’ appealed to me for many reasons, but one thing I really liked about Jaideep Sahni’s ‘Chak De!...’ script was that Shahrukh Khan’s character, Kabir Khan, didn’t have a love interest. There was so much to watch in the interaction between Kabir and his hockey team members (who were really nicely fleshed out characters), that a love interest for Kabir was totally unnecessary. I kinda wish Jaideep had similarly resisted the urge to create a love interest for Harpreet in ‘Rocket Singh’. Sherena, played by Shazahn Padamsee, was a cute character, but the film would have been just as good without her.
Sherena and Harpreet had just a couple of scenes (and a montage) together, and while they were an adorable couple, they left no lasting impact. Sherena was sweet, but her character was a bit wet noodle-y; I much preferred the sassier Koena (played by Gauhar Khan), the film’s other main female character (not saying that she and Harpreet should have hooked up, but I loved her).
Also, I didn’t think Shazahn Padamsee’s performance was any great shakes; true, she wasn’t given much to do in ‘Rocket Singh’, but I don’t think she’s a particularly good actress – not yet, at least (an opinion that was strengthened when I saw her again in ‘Dil To Bachcha Hai Ji’)... she’s very pretty but her acting leaves something to be desired.
· Raajneeti: This was the third Ranbir Kapoor movie that I saw on the big screen, and the character of Samar Pratap was Ranbir’s first truly ‘dark’ role, a nice departure from the cheery, carefree kid he played in most of his movies before this one. This was also Ranbir’s first chance to shine in the context of an ensemble cast with acclaimed and established actors, and I think he did an outstanding job and held his own. His character’s transformation from sheltered, geeky academic to Machiavellian, amoral politician was chilling but very seamlessly depicted. I thought this was a really accomplished performance by Ranbir.
While I loved Ranbir’s performance, I did not love his onscreen relationships with his female counterparts in this film. First we met Katrina Kaif, playing Samar’s childhood friend Indu, who despite being in love with Samar, is eventually married off to his brother, Prithviraj… I found the Samar/Indu scenes generally underwhelming and even a bit boring – the Prithviraj/Indu scenes were more interesting, if a little disturbing.
And then we met Sarah Thompson Kane, playing Samar’s American girlfriend, Sarah… I found her scenes opposite Ranbir almost painful. I didn’t think there was much chemistry there, and Sarah’s performance seemed so weak and stilted. That being said, there was so much more going on in ‘Raajneeti’, especially among the male characters in the film (the women in this film mostly got used and abused by the men, sadly), that there really wasn’t much scope for nuanced male/female relationships.
· Anjaana Anjaani: If this film had been shorter and better scripted, it could have been really good. As it is, I made about a hundred abortive attempts to watch it before I was finally able to finish it. It isn’t that it’s a bad film – it’s that it lacks heart and depth. It’s a shame because there was so much potential for more.
It’s really hard to feel a lot for the main characters, Kiara (Priyanka Chopra) and Akash (Ranbir), because they are self-absorbed and shallow… and because, with the exception of one very effective scene with Ranbir and the fabulous Tanvi Azmi, you don’t really get the feeling that Kiara and Akash really work through their individual drama in the course of the film. They sort of get to point A to point B without too much messy stuff in between. For a film that goes on for two and a half hours, that’s pretty poor. A good chunk of time was wasted on ineffective scenes that added nothing, and sometimes even hampered the narrative instead of moving thing along. The characters were potentially very interesting, but not explored to the extent that they could have been. Akash had a better arc than Kiara (or maybe Ranbir did a slightly better job with him), but that’s really not saying much. Basically, it could have been much better.
However, it’s not really Priyanka and Ranbir’s fault – I think they both did a very competent job with the material they were given… the material was just a bit two-dimensional. This is a cool-looking film, shot in cool locations with two exceedingly cool people wearing very cool clothes, but it could have been much more than that with a better script.
That being said, I was pleasantly surprised by the Ranbir/Priyanka jodi. When I first heard that they would be working together, I actually grimaced – while they are actually the same age (both were born in 1982, Priyanka a couple of months before Ranbir), PC has something really mature about her face, and I just thought she would look so much older opposite Ranbir, who has more boyish features. Of course, that (the leading lady being/looking older than her male counterpart) is not a bad thing in itself, but I felt that the film would probably not suit that look, and… I just thought it would be a mismatch.
I was wrong… Piggy Chops and Ranbir actually looked really good together in this film. The way Priyanka was styled in the film might have a lot to do with this – whereas in a lot of her older work she’s been styled in ways that made her look older than she really is, in ‘Anjaana Anjaani’ she looked fresh-faced and youthful, wearing a really hip, cute array of outfits. The AA team kept her make-up minimal. With a fresh face, fun haircut and the aforementioned wardrobe, she looked beautiful.
And Ranbir, who bulked up a bit (but thankfully not too much) before this film, and who had an equally enviable wardrobe, looked mighty fine too. I thought they complemented each other very well, looks-wise.
On other levels, however, their jodi was a little less successful. There were a couple of sexy, smouldering scenes that sort of worked, and their madcap friendship was nicely portrayed overall, but they were just okay together, not great. It could have been worse, and I did like some of their scenes together a lot (especially the ones in which Akash is protective of Kiara), but I don’t think they had a chance to fully explore the potential of their jodi in this film. So I never thought that I would say this, but I would actually like to see Ranbir and Priyanka work together again in the future.
And that’s it… my assessment of Ranbir Kapoor’s onscreen romantic relationships… so far my fave has to be Sid/Aisha from ‘Wake Up Sid’, but I really think Ranbir has been a very good leading man and has worked very well (and played very well – sorry, couldn’t resist!) with his leading ladies so far… and I’m really looking forward to seeing how he fares in the years to come. And as I said at the beginning of Part 1, while I didn’t like the ‘Rockstar’ trailer (mostly ‘thanks’ to Nargis Fakhri’s screeching and Ranbir’s general emo-ness), I will be at my local cinema if and when the movie makes it here. I’m a fan of Ranbir’s acting and I don’t see that changing in the foreseeable future.
So… Happy Birthday, Ranbir… and here’s hoping you continue to have a career as rich and varied as it’s been so far!