Aditya Roy Kapoor can breathe a sigh of relief. I strolled into a multiplex show of his latest film Malang over the weekend and was amazed to see an almost full house for the gore-fuelled thriller.
I was surprised because it has been almost seven years since Aditya spring-boarded to fame with his intense portrayal of a troubled alcoholic in Aashiqui 2 (2013), and all his subsequent films as a hero — Daawat-e-Ishq, Fitoor, Ok Jaanu, Kalank — had failed to work at the box office. But finally the tide seems to have turned.
His latest film Malang has crossed the Rs 50 crore benchmark in 12 days and continues to steadily rake it in at the turnstiles. While Malang may not be generating the buzz that Aashiqui 2 did, its respectable tally ensures that Aditya’s career has not run out of steam.
There are no second acts in showbiz, it is said. Happily, today it’s different.
Time can was when 1980s star Kumar Gaurav gave a couple of flops and was summarily written off. Earlier, most actors who had failed to deliver a hit in six long years would start accepting B grade movies or supporting roles in desperation.
However, now actors strategise their careers with almost military precision because they have several avenues open for them and they have the wherewithal to drastically alter or fine tune their strengths.
Aditya reinvented himself physically for Malang — a hulky musculature has become de rigeur for B-town heroes and the actor picked up the gauntlet. He also dropped the sheep-eyed romantic image of his earlier films for a far grittier, edgier persona — he believably plays a wild-eyed vigilante with a fluency in fisticuffs in Malang.
The transformation has given a fillip to his career — eschewing his extreme choosiness of yore, Aditya is much busier today with (Malang and Aashiqui 2 director) Mohit Suri’s next alongside John Abraham as well as Mahesh Bhatt’s directorial comeback Sadak 2 opposite Alia Bhatt.
Another actor looking to open Chapter II of his career with Malang is Kunal Kemmu. He is indisputably talented but his career started languishing soon after he made his debut as a leading man in the Bhatts’ Kalyug (2005). Despite positive reactions to Traffic Signal and Go Goa Gone, his stint as a leading man was going nowhere.
He was agile enough to realise this and switched to playing a negative role in Kalank. He followed it soon thereafter with another negative role as a deeply disturbed young man in Malang. There is renewed interest in Kemmu and he’s young enough at the age of 36 to capitalise on being given another chance.
A popular star for over a decade, Bobby Deol’s career has been on the downside after Yamla Pagla Deewana (2011). Matters reached such a head that the actor was forced to take an extended hiatus and had not a single film of his releasing in the theatres for three whole years between 2014 and 2016.
But Bobby pulled himself up by his bootstraps and developed a fresh look and physique after he landed a meaty role in the Salman Khan starrer Race 3.
Housefull 4 soon followed. And now Bobby is headlining an OTT venture produced by Shah Rukh’s production house. Bobby is a working actor once again.
Saif Ali Khan will turn 50 this August...and the actor is confidently embarking on an exciting new phase of his life. His days as a successful draw as a solo hero of such romantic comedies as Hum Tum, Salaam Namaste and Love Aaj Kal may well be behind him now but he has bravely grabbed a range of experimental opportunities that have helped him stay relevant.
Saif was the first popular name to take to the web series world with Sacred Games and it helped swivel the spotlight back onto him. He showed willingness to dabble in nouvelle cinema like the black comedy Kaalakaandi and the period revenge drama Laal Kaptaan.
And he had no qualms about essaying be the role of the heroine’s father in Jawaani Jaaneman or playing the antagonist opposite Ajay Devgn who was in the titular role in the current blockbuster Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior.
A willingness to adapt is the name of the game today. Those who don't, run the risk of falling by the wayside; but those who do can open the curtains on their career’s Second Act.