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Tuesday, November 17


MUMBAI : For years, Amitabh Bachchan and the three Khans, Shah Rukh, Aamir and Salman have been Bollywood’s leading male actors. But a new man now looks set to join them and he is none other than Ranbir Kapoor.

Ranbir has received rave reviews for his latest film, “Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani” (An Amazing Story Of Strange Love), and is tipped by colleagues and critics to follow his grandfather and father to acting super-stardom.

“Ranbir has all the makings of a superstar,” said the film’s director, Rajkumar Santoshi. “He is multi-talented and good-looking, too. He can carry humorous as well as serious roles with quite an ease.”

But the 27-year-old brushes aside such talk, instead preferring to build up experience in a range of films to prove his worth as an actor and not just a name in a business and country where family connections go a long way.

“Please don’t give me such titles,” he told reporters recently, referring to descriptions of him as “the next big thing.”

“I have a long way to go. I have only been in the film industry for two years and I am working hard to prove myself.

“My next film is ‘Rocket Singh — Salesman Of The Year’ for Yash Raj films, then ‘Rajneeti’ (Politics), which is a serious subject. I want to do good films and all kinds of films.”

Kapoor has had a meteoric rise to fame since he was first seen in “Saawariya” (My Beloved) in November 2007. The film did not do well, but his potential was noticed.

Last year, he had moderate success with the romantic comedy “Bachna Ae Haseeno” (Watch Out, Beautiful Girls) and then the comedy-drama “Wake Up Sid”, which was a huge hit.

In “Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani”, he stars alongside Katrina Kaif, who has had an equally rapid rise since switching from modelling to movies and is now one of Bollywood’s most bankable stars.

The film — about a love-struck teenager — took 337.5 million rupees (seven million dollars) in its first five days, according to www.boxofficeindia.com, while its soundtrack has rocketed to the top of the music charts.

Taran Adarsh, a leading Hindi-language movie industry analyst, predicted that the film’s success should benefit Kapoor “to the maximum”, with Bachchan now in his mid-60s and the Khans all aged over 40.

“‘Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani’ has taken the nation by storm,” he wrote in his column on the popular www.bollywoodhungama.com website. “It had a great start, a fabulous weekend, a solid Monday and most importantly, the film has stepped into the coveted top five openers list of all time and that is a major achievement.

“He has truly arrived now and whether his contemporaries like it or not, he has all it takes to stake a claim to the throne in times to come.”

Another film critic said Kapoor had already proved that he was more than just a famous name.

“In a country given to a continuous tradition of lineages, there are few instances when the pure class of pedigree shines brightly through the clutter,” wrote Minty Tejpal in the Mumbai Mirror tabloid.

“Even as Rahul Gandhi charms a vast, complicated country, it seems that Ranbir Kapoor can do nothing wrong. He is just fantastic through the film,” Tejpal wrote, referring to Gandhi, the youth leader of India’s ruling Congress party.

“Ranbir is the rare star who makes you laugh and tugs at your heart strings in the same mad beat, thus keeping you constantly charmed.”

Kaif said her co-star had inherited the acting genes of his father, Rishi, and grandfather, Raj, who remain revered figures in the industry, but he also works hard at his craft.

“You have to work with him to understand how disciplined he is on set,” the 25-year-old Kaif said. “He is very punctual and knows every aspect of film-making, which is a rare quality in actors.”