Barfi, Jordan, Ved, Jagga – Different shades of the enigma called Ranbir Kapoor
The year was 2007, the silver screen was awaiting one of its biggest debuts. The curtains lifted, and in came the blue-eyed boy on celluloid, singing away as the smitten lover, sashaying the blue hues of the story ‘White Nights’ brought alive by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, in the form of ‘Saawariya’. Though the movie did not work at the box office, as Shah Rukh Khan‘s ‘Om Shanti Om’ swept away the moolah, the new generation of a talented clan was born. Ranbir Kapoor was the name, and he bagged all the awards for the best debut that year.
Times came and went by, and every time he came on the screens, he had something fresh to offer. Be it his playboy act in ‘Bachna Ae Haseeno’, where he effortlessly gyrated to the tunes once made for his father, or ‘Wake Up Sid’, where he was a clueless and spoilt but adorable brat who eventually found his calling, not just in the everyday nine to five life, he was unstoppable. He made us laugh and cry in ‘Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani’, and gave us a fine piece of his acting panache with the unconventional role in ‘Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year’. He was comfortable stepping into the shoes of modern-day Arjun in Prakash Jha’s political re-telling of Mahabharata, ‘Rajneeti’, and shined in the otherwise average ‘Anjaana Anjaani‘ . (Also Read:‘Jagga Jasoos’ movie review: Ranbir-Katrina’s musical voyage to happiness will win you over)
And then, came Imtiaz Ali’s ‘Rockstar’, and Ranbir’s transition from his happy roles was remarkable. He shocked us and shook us, with the intensity with which he portrayed a connection between a broken heart and creation of soulful music, a role of a broken lover, a bleeding Rockstar. Ranbir’s portrayal of Janardan ‘Jordan’ Jakhar was so surreal, that it was hard to believe this was the same guy who portrayed such blithe characters, a while back. The movie brought him his first ever Filmfare for the best actor, and many other accolades. This was just a start.
What followed, was Anurag Basu’s ‘Barfi!’ where we saw him as the mute and adorable Barfi, who could spread a cheer anywhere with his smile. Again, the man took us by surprise by effortlessly coming out of the skin of brooding rockstar Jordan, and getting into the skin of the lovable oddball Barfi. This act of Ranbir earned him his consecutive award for Best actor and rightly so.
He went on to wow us as Kabir Thapar aka Bunny in ‘Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani‘ . Somewhere, we could all relate to that guy who wanted everything in life, who did not want to stop, but at the same time wanted a comfortable halt, a home in his heart, which he eventually finds. ‘Roy‘ may not have worked, and even though it was just an extended cameo, not many would have dared to plunge into a writer’s fantasy, a character within the sub-plot. But Ranbir did it and again came out with flying colours. ‘Bombay Velvet‘ fell flat, but his character of Johnny/Balraj, with the vibe of the bygone era, was much appreciated. (We would like to conveniently forget the cataclysm on the senses that ‘Besharam’ was.)
After his award-winning stint in ‘Rockstar’, Ranbir joined hands with Imtiaz Ali once again, in ‘Tamasha’. With a story of a storyteller trapped in the hustle of daily job and mundane life, Ved’s character was all of us. All of us, who struggle to be average in doing the usual, never thinking of taking the risk and being the best in what we love. Tara, played by Deepika depicted the light within us to guide towards what we do, the voice of our heart, the voice of Ved’s heart whom he finds in a distant land. But, amongst everything, Ranbir’s act as Ved stole the show, and though the movie being a niche one could not work wonders at the box office, Ranbir delivered yet another goal in terms of acting finesse.
After ‘Rockstar’ and ‘Tamasha’, the jovial traits of the characters Ranbir had played previously, were fading somehow, and for the first time, his character of Ayan from ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’, seemed a little repetitive. Instead of being someone whom we could root for, for being constantly thwarted on the love front by the one he had a hearty obsession towards, Ayan somehow irritated us. The fact that we were high on the movie ‘PINK’ which raised the important issue of ‘No means No’, Ayan really did not appeal. But then, Ranbir’s act and charm worked even here, and he managed to deliver yet another stellar performance, extracting extraordinary from the ordinary.
But the best was yet to come. Since ages, we had been listening about the ambitious project ‘Jagga Jasoos’, wherein Ranbir was playing the titular character of the teen detective. The movie was witnessing the team-up of Anurag Basu and Ranbir, once again after ‘Barfi!’, and yet again, we were going to witness Ranbir’s amiable side, in a musical. Too many experiments were at stake. And yes, he did blow us away. Though it is too early to deliver any verdict on the movie, Ranbir’s performance as Jagga extracted emotions and moved feels inside, like no one else. A stammering orphan who sings to express, a teenage detective who has a thing for solving unfinished stories and crimes, a boy craving for the love of a father lost, refusing to believe he is gone. Ranbir brings out the finest of his career with his beautiful rendition of Jagga’s various shades, and makes you reminisce the likes of legends like Feluda and Hardy Boys. We came out of the cinema hall smiling goofily and wished we could see more of Jagga’s antics.
For those who curse nepotism, if an enigma and virtuosity like Ranbir is the result of the same, we don’t mind it in a measured balance. This man works silently towards his sheer love of cinema, giving us one after the other, characters to remember, breathing life into the fictional beings like no one else.
Take a bow to the one who is out to be a stellar performer, and not a star.
Kapoor & Sons: Caught the plight of homosexuals tenderly and yet made 'coming out' look doable
Kapoor & Sons – Since 1921. The house proudly flaunted that to the world, nestled in the greens of Coonoor. No one knew the darkness that was inside, the demons that were individually dealt with. But then, isn’t every family like that?
Two years have passed by since this Shakun Batra-directorial, story of a dysfunctional family had come to our lives. However, amongst the various themes that tore apart the family and eventually brought it together, one that truly had the power to transform, was that of homosexuality.
Not many know, that the role played by Fawad Khan, that of family’s elder son, a successful author, was actually offered to many A-listers, who turned it down, eventually leading him to step into the shoes of Rahul. And it was, indeed, a very big step on his part. He was venturing out of his territory, a man who has such a huge female-fan following, and comes from a country with religion as its main running philosophy. He did the role and brought such conviction to it that we were forced to stand up and applaud, his courage, and the beauty with which his character was carved.
Since times immemorial, all our memories of gay characters on screen have been that of carelessly effeminate and unimportant roles, which are just there to add a comic element. The stereotype has been high to an extent that often the champions of the same channelise it and promote it, for it is wrapped in the shiny paper of presentation. The biggest example of this was ‘Dostana’, which was an amazing story of friendship, still used homosexuality as humour, as its backdrop. Ironically, it came from the same production house, though nearly eight years before that.
But ‘Kapoor & Sons’ begged to differ here. The character here was real, someone who was hiding himself, for the society, his family. There was surreality to the theme of homosexuality here, which had the power to jar us inside out; and that, it did.
Two scenes from the movie specifically hit me. First one is when Sunita (Ratna Patak Shah) finds out that her ideal elder son, whom she adores and is proud of, is not straight. The aftereffects of the same jolt you, because the reaction is just what an Indian mother gives, in any situation that is beyond her control; uncontrollable anger at the offspring, and then uncontrollable guilt, of blaming herself and her upbringing. The scene is filmed so beautifully, that your eyes sting. The way Fawad’s facade falls and his fear is marked across his face, which is then replaced by the anger of hiding himself for all those years, and mother’s dilemma and hurt, it all comes out in a naked and real manner.
Another sequence is when Rahul (Fawad Khan) comes back home after the showdown with his mother and the death of his father totally uproots whatever sanity his family possessed. He sits with his mother, with whom his last encounter was one of his coming out, and she asks, hesitatingly, about his partner. A subtle way of expressing acceptance, the way they hold hands, without saying anything, it stays with you.
It may not be one masterpiece, but ‘Kapoor & Sons’ will forever remain a favourite for finally breaking the mainstream stereotype of a gay man, in Bollywood. And for that, no matter how many bans, I will forever be waiting for Fawad Khan to come back, and give us more performances; with dare and conviction.
An ode to Sridevi, the queen who inspired the queers long before it became mainstream
“I am a kid from the 90s but still can’t forget those days when, me-myself was not out and proud about my preferences. And inside my own sweet world would dance in front of the mirror on many songs, but majorly on ‘Hawa Hawai’ and ‘Main Teri Dushman, Dushman Tu Mera’. These songs were just not tunes for me, it made me feel exactly what I was; a QUEERby birth”.
The news of the legendary diva Sridevi being no more with us is still hard to believe, as she was part of my and every queer’s childhood memories. While in the late 90s my bunch of friends would idolise a star from the West as their gay icon, me being a full-fledged Bollywood fanatic was in love with Sridevi and she was a diva I used to worship (and will forever). Her golden costume and perfectly done makeup in ‘Hawa Hawai’ made me feel, “Yes! There is someone like me out there who loves bling and all things loud.” Her feather headgear in one of the songs from ‘Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja’, touched my drag Queen‘s soul. One of the lines from her song ‘Hawa Hawai’ which is ‘Soorat Hi Maine Aisi Paayi’ transported me into a world where I thought that there is someone narcissist just like me. Sridevi’s charm was on my mind and the feminine side in me just wanted to be a replica of her.
The gone actress has not only given a lot to the Indian cinema, but her sass and talent of naturally moulding herself into any character gave her an upper hand in whatever she used to do. When many gay men were struggling and were confused about their sexual orientation they found a connection to their on-going pain in Sridevi’s roles. Whether it was Sridevi as a meek Anju and ferocious Manju fighting for everything wrong in ‘ChaalBaaz’ (1989), Pooja’s mutiny against the everlasting societal conditions in ‘Lamhe’ (1991), Seema’s confidence-filled and fearless dance in the ‘Mr. India’ (1987) song ‘Hawa Hawaai’ or her role of a naagin (snake) coming out to the world about her dual identity in ‘Nagina’ (1986), Sri’s roles had a deep connection and were etched in every GAY man’s mind.
And how can one miss ‘Kate Nahin Kat Te’ song of Sridevi from ‘Mr. India’, where she owned the song and made every gay guy’s dream to dance on it once with his man. This particular song was wild, seductive and equal parts bold. Sridevi draped in a sky-blue coloured saree with a matching bindi and of course adding fuel to the fire was her dancing moves. Even at the end of the song, a fully wet in rainwater, Sridevi stretching herself on a pile of hay – ‘Tumne jo li angdayi hai’ – where the diva nibbles on straws with a drenched fire in her eyes, leaving Mr. Kapoor to chivalrously lie on a distant haystack.
While mostly when the film fraternity was in a zone where feminine men were used as a tool to add fun elements on the silver screen, Sridevi was a ray of hope for the LGBTQ community. She was like a powerful symbol for the QUEERS. Her role resonated each and every gays struggle, and also echoed their dysphoria into her characters. And with her, all the queer children surpassed the narrow-minded stereotypes which they were labelled with. Lastly, she might be gone, but the colourful rainbow universe she opened for all the fellow LGBTQ people remains there intact..
Hail the QUEEN! RIP Sridevi.