With each being pit as the antithesis of the other, ‘good cinema’ and ‘cinema for the masses’ are least likely to cross paths. If you’re a Bollywood superstar, you are more likely to be endorsing the latter.
There is enough evidence to suggest that our superstars prefer an inflating bank balance over acting accolades, which explains why they’re mostly busy doling out mediocre stuff, hiding behind the decrepit alibis that movies are to be made for the masses.
But there are exceptions to the rule, like the name that starts off my list.
The most underrated actor by a considerable wingspan, Raj Kapoor, in my opinion, has carried the stigma of a tireless Chaplin imitator all his life, and beyond. Oddly enough, it never seemed to bother the man himself.
The blame for Raj Kapoor being viewed by this generation as merely a filmmaker/actor who resorted to titillation and clownmanship rests solely with satellite channels, which don’t air RK movies except for Sangam, Ram Teri Ganga Maili, Mera Naam Joker and the likes. It’s movies like these that have imprinted on our minds an image – that throughout his career, RK was either acting up like Chaplin or objectifying women from behind the lenses. The real Raj Kapoor, from the forgotten gems of the 50s, was an actor par excellence.
The bona-fide RK classics that deserve a far bigger audience seem to have been lost in the sands of time. Kapoor’s acting prowess can be seen in at least a 50 movies where he wasn’t imitating Chaplin. Seven of the best performances that come to mind are:
- Phir Subha Hogi
- Teesri Kasam
- Jagte Raho
- Chori Chori
What’s your favorite Raj Kapoor role?
The world remembers how the Roshan lad became an overnight sensation, sending women all across the country in a tizzy, back in 2000. Since then, he has starred in several blockbusters that have made him and his distributors richer. And thanks to a certain Kangana Ranaut, he hasn’t been out of news over the past 3 years (not necessarily a good thing). But do the advocates of intelligent cinema consider him worthy? We haven’t heard them reciting homilies in his name, especially in the face of monstrously bad films (the very Shaktiman-ian Krrish 3) that Hrithik keeps on rubbing in our faces.
But none of it disproves that he is a very skilled actor who, albeit in small doses, has proved his mettle more than once. The list below is a living proof.
What’s your favorite Hrithik role?
Spunk, natural acting, and versatility, all of these happily co-exist in Kunal Khemu. Not many in the internet-verse would admit it about this dynamite of talent.
Despite all of this, Kunal Khemu’s career has never really taken off. Khemu can get under the skin of the character he plays seemingly effortlessly. But unlike Akshaye Khanna, who is often a subject of compliments, Kunal’s acting prowess has largely been unnoticed and unappreciated; this and the fact that his multi-starers do earn moolah is why I have included him in the list.
- Go Goa Gone
What’s your favorite Kunal Khemu role?
The word ‘Nepotism’ may have found its footing in Bollywood just recently, but Bachchan Jr. has been subjected to the silver-spoon barbs from nearly 2 decades now. While I am of the view that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with you following your father’s footsteps and him helping you get a start, but that’s a debate for another day. As for Abhishek Bachchan, here’s a fine, fine actor who’s struggling owing to, among other factors, his unconventional looks.
What’s your favorite AB role?
The King of Romance has another throne to worry about – King of superstars who don’t garner a lot of respect for their acting prowess. While this statement may not have been accurate a decade back, those who have mostly followed SRK through duds like Chennai Express, Raees, Dilwale, and so on have no reason to believe he is an actor worthy of his title. There was also Fan, but a ridiculous setup obscured what was arguably the boldest and one of the best roles in decades.
- Chak De India
- Dil Se
When they are on top of their game, you don’t need any immersible angles. Scarring the skin of their character layer by layer, they showcase the range of their natural impulses. Just don’t count on them to do that too often.