Monday, April 4, 2011


For previous installments in the series, please visit the index.

Now that you’ve met The Three Khans, let me introduce you to some of the other important Heroes in town these days. These guys are still A-list and can set the box offices blazing but they aren’t The Three Khans popular. Some of these guys are scrappers who have been racking up moderate hit after moderate hit for years and some of these guys are huge stars on a gentle downward slope. Either way, you will want to know who they are!


Hrithik Roshan is the last of the major Capital H Heroes you need to know - the men who can anchor a big film and make us believe they are larger than life.* Hrithik is one of those rare actors who improves the performances of everyone around him, whether it’s banter with a male co-star or romance with a female co-star. As a Hero he is tough to pin down - a chameleon. There is only one thing Hrithik’s roles have in common, he devotes himself 100% to them. It doesn’t matter if the film in question is a moody set piece or a high octane popcorn flick, Hrithik Roshan isn’t just bringing his A game, he’s bringing an entire report card’s worth of A-game.

We can thank Hrithik’s lucky third thumb** for his smashing launch in 2000’s
Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai, which is a deliciously soapy Bollywood potboiler that contains just about every romanctic cliche from the past 50 years stuffed into a single film. Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai is a great place to start with discussing Hrithik for a few reasons:

1. The film is a Roshan family production - produced and directed by Hrithik’s father with music by his uncle. Hrithik’s family, especially his father, loom large in his life and they tend to work together quite a bit.

2. The film starts with “K,” which is the Roshan family’s lucky number. Anything produced or directed by Hrithik’s father
will begin with the letter “K.”

3. The film is deeply rooted in Bollywood narrative convention

4. Hrithik’s character in the film was larger than life - literally. He dies before the interval and is resurrected in a unique way afterwards.

The last one is the most interesting. Hrithik is best known for a series of two (soon to be three) films where he plays a superhero, in the Hollywood sense.
Koi... Mil Gaya! (note the “K” title) has him in a sci-fi flavored Flowers for Algernon tale and the sequel, Krrish, has him playing his own son. Hrithik infuses the outward perfection of his characters with a real and fragile humanity - like how his perfect physique is offset by the lucky double thumb. A wonderful example comes from 2009’s Luck By Chance, Hrithik had a small role playing an arrogant superstar actor named Zaffar Khan. There is one scene that shows small children running up to his car window, excited to see him. Zaffar presses one hand to the glass and in that moment, you understand his entire character and how lonely he is. That ability to convey depth beyond the glossy surface is Hrithik’s unique talent.

The last couple years have been fallow for Hrithik and we can’t leave without discussing
Kites, which has left a giant mark on his career. I should explain that one of the pipe dreams of every Bollywood Hero and Heroine is this desire to conquer Hollywood. And Hrithik is certainly one of the most marketable heroes currently working in Bollywood, so it doesn’t seem unreasonable on paper that Hrithik would be the Hero to anchor crossover film Kites. Produced by his father and directed by one of the more offbeat directors in Bollywood, Kites was an ambitious star-crossed romance set in Las Vegas. The hype was for a Bollywood film done Hollywood style and while I would argue that the film was actually pretty good, it ended up being too Bollywood for American audiences and too Hollywood for Indian audiences and the film failed miserably. For Hrithik, the golden boy, this was a big disappointment.***

Nobody likes the stink of failure and Hrithik has re-doubled his efforts for 2011 to make sure that he leaves audiences happy - which is where the third superhero film comes in.

Like most actors, Hrithik is often dogged by rumors of affairs but he has a lovely wife and two kids. He is very very devoted to his family but his private life doesn’t much enter into his Hero persona.

Hrithik does not have as large a back catalog as some of the other heroes but here are some good ones to watch:

Luck By Chance (2009) - While Hrithik really only has a “friendly appearance” role in this film, it is a great introduction to his amazing charisma. The film takes place within Bollywood and is an interesting look at what goes on behind-the-scenes of movie making as seen through the eyes of a newcomer.

Dhoom 2 (2006) - Don’t worry, you don’t need to see Dhoom 1 to get this film. Hrithik plays super thief Mr. A in this gloriously over-the-top masala film. The plot is really silly but Hrithik gives it his all - if you want to see some great dancing and campy acting, then add this to your Netflix queue. (I saw it TWICE in the theater!)

Kites (2010) - I know I just said that it flopped but I’m basing this recommendation on the fact that I took a non-Bollywood viewing friend to see this film and she ended up falling in love with Hrithik. In a lot of ways, Kites is really the perfect film for non-Indian Bollywood fans because the more exotic elements are muted while still keeping the feel of Bollywood. As I said, it’s a star-crossed romance, so go in prepared to have your heart broken.

* There are very talented up and coming actors (especially Ranbir and Ranveer) who have potential to cross over into Super Hero territory but as of yet - in my opinion anyways - none of the new boys has really had that REALLY superhit film yet.

** I’m not joking. He has three thumbs and we all consider the extra one lucky!

*** I should disclose that I was lucky enough to
interview Hrithik during the press tour for Kites and I believe that he really believed in this film.


sadia said...

I was expecting to read more about his dancing. Incredibly talented and seemingly boneless! Plus acting wise one mustn't forget his role in Guzaarish.

Re Dhoom 2, when I want to show friends some great modern Bollywood dancing, I point them to this film now.

Zoey said...

nice piece.. but you kind of left out some of his better films/works.. Jodhaa Akbar, Guzaarish, Fiza and Lakshya! Fiza and Lakshya - in particular- tho not as popular or acclaimed as JA and Guzaarish but truly some of his finest works!

Filmi Girl said...

@sadia That's what comments are for! To remind me of things I forgot. :) If I re-edit this, I'll be sure to add something on his dancing.

@zoey Hiya, I did that on purpose - the point of this series is a gentle introduction to Bollywood for people unfamiliar with the cinema. I am trying really hard not to overwhelm newbies with too many names and titles. :) Those are great films but I wouldn't recommend them to somebody who had never seen a Bollywood film before.

Shell said...

I just (like JUST) posted my review on Guzaarish which I LOVED!!! Hrithik is an amazing actor, but I think I always forget just how much I like him until I watch one of his films and then I go "Right! That's why he's fantatastic!"

I'm so loving this series of posts btw!

@ksana said...

First of all - finally I've got Hritik from you =) Though we'll never come to MY favorite hero =)
Second of all - it's not that I insist, but do you plan on mentioning Saif Ali Khan or any of Bachchans? They aren't that type of Heroes you are talking right now... but Big B, for example, is still acting and still quite influential among the "legend-type" actors.

redsarah said...

And how could you leave Jodha-Akbar off your introductions list when it seems to have been the first Bollywood film seen by so many of the western bloggers? Hrithik exercising with that sword .....

eliza bennet said...

Hrithik cannot act but he has a great screen presence and usually physically outshines his co star (excepting Aishwarya who I think is the best jodi with Hrithik).

He is not my type and he has a horrible singing voice - I still cannot understand why they made him sing in Kites (man that film was already bad enough, but that song, made it even worse) - but he was adorable in Koi Mil Gaya and I liked him Krissh too. Add Dhoom 2 and Akhbar to the mix and he is best suited to superhero-ish, grand characters, ones you don't see in real life.

I actually did like him in K3G. Karan got a performance out of him and he sure can dance.

Akshay said...

Hrithik Roshan is looking awesome in the pic..

redsarah said...

@Eliza Bennet, Whilst I accept that you may find Hrithik unappealing, I couldn't disagree more over his acting ability. Admittedly, it can be difficult to find to find too much evidence before he came under Farhan Akthar's direction in Lakshya but, since then, I believe he's taken flight as an actor and become tthat rare thing - a Hero who doesn't simply play himself in each film.

honeycombveils said...

I agree with Sadia - Hrithik is so synonymous with fabulous dancing, he's the most gifted BW dancer (with apologies to Shahid and Ranbir fans... The top slot belongs to HR), there's gotta be some mention of his moves..!

While we can argue about his talent, there's no question about his willingness to take risks with his roles. He doesn't rest on his laurels and likes to push himself which is rarer for a big star who's already established.

Les said...

This is a great Blog, Filmi Girl, extremely well thought out and well written.
As far as Hrithik is concerned, I feel that my own impression of his dancing has been exonerated by several of the commentators here. Hrithik, amongst other qualities, has a quality of levitation in his dance, very similar to Gene Kelly. Fabulous - and rare.

Note from Filmi Girl:

I love Bollywood - and all the ridiculous things that happen in Bollywood - but it doesn't mean that I can't occasionally make fun of various celebrities and films.

If you don't like my sense of humor, please just move on by - Trolls are not appreciated and nasty comments will be deleted.

xoxo Filmi Girl
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