Bombay Velvet might not have the box-office counters ringing but it has certainly been turning the media mill into overtime. From the spectacular commercial failure of the film, to the director’s coping in a Facebook post to Kashyap’s subsequent twitter row with Ram Gopal Verma the film has been in the eye of a media storm. Still that cannot translate into a recovering of the losses the big-budget film is giving its producers. One angle of the media covering has been Ranbir Kapoor where speculations of his having run out of the purple streak of his career are being flown about.
While trade pundits solemnly point at how Kapoor’s last two films had shown a steady decline in commercial viability the picture is really not that grim. In fact, in the pre-Barfi! era Kapoor had garnered attention for his out-of-box film choices which more often than not did not rake in the moolah. Who can forget Kapoor’s origins with the disastrous Sawaariya which was then touted as the highest sublimation of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s artistic vision? Kapoor had doggedly followed that up with unusual stories like Bachna Ae Haseeno, Wake Up Sid! and Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year. So much so that people came up with all sorts of theories about his career strategy. Some said straying from the beaten path was how he planned to be in the news; others decided it must be his eclectic schooling in films—from idolizing Raj Kapoor (his grandfather) to learning the ropes of method acting at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute. His own father, Rishi Kapoor, at one point had admitted to not approving his son’s career choices as they were not conventionally secure.
Coupled with his sweet boy-next-door charm and his versatility as an actor everyone had staked their bets on Kapoor to pull off another Aamir Khan. On hindsight, Barfi! appears to have been the crescendo of Kapoor’s hankering for establishing a different path to super-stardom. Though Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewaani only sought to pull Ranbir’s success a few notches higher the seed to an imminent downward spiral was planted. Kapoor was accused of eventually conforming, of becoming the archetypical Hindi cinema lover boy. Though on script Besharam and Roy might have had visual appeal, the material failed to blossom in the hands of inept, self-indulgent rookie directors. The trick that had been working in Kapoor’s favour till then became the reason behind his career going for a freefall: working with new directors and interesting scripts was not simply enough.
At this critical juncture the fact that Kapoor’s romantic life was also a matter of wild frenzy in the hands of the media didn’t help matters. Deepika Padukone gave way to Katrina Kaif, and despite trying their best to keep mum the pair were overtaken everytime by the media—be it the Ibiza episode or the recent rumours of a 2016 marriage. Consequent to the tanking of Velvet the media has conveniently settled on noting how Kaif chooses to extend moral support to her beau or how they keep away from Ranbir’s former flame Deepika’s success party foe Piku. This turn of events has made Kapoor one of the first heroes in Bollywood who is being hounded more than his equally famous lady love. The favourite pastime at Bollywood has been heroine baiting, Kapoor’s Velvet co-star Anushka Sharma has been the victim of the same when her relationship status with Virat Kohli led to the most bizarre conclusions about how she was ‘unlucky’ for the rising cricketer. Perhaps, Ranbir should brace himself to endure similar theories if his Jagga Jasoos with Kaif does not bode well commercially.
Keeping aside all this talk of impending doom for Kapoor’s Bollywood career one should not forget Kapoor’s lineage. If Raj Kapoor’s grandson with his evident talent cannot leverage his Bollywood royalty status then no one can. Kapoor had always been juggling hits with flops in his eight years at the industry. It may very well be that his family’s location in the Hindi film cosmos is aiding the massive attention being paid to the failure of his recent film. Till he turns around his career it would be good on Kapoor’s part to do some rethinking. He has gone too far into being the star with the interesting filmography to be falling back on clichés now for a bankable future in the film industry. All might be well if he skips the Besharams and stays immune to the media’s avid interest in his romantic life.