The credit for the three biggest hits of 2018 (Sanju, Padmaavat and Simmba) is shared between two prominent heroes – Ranbir Kapoor and Ranveer Singh! Couple this with the fact that long-running megastars Shah Rukh, Salman and Aamir have not had a stellar last year plus SRK and Aamir have no major releases round the corner (though Salman does have an opportunity to strike big with the ambitious Bharat), and it indicates that 2019 also could be another watermark year for Ranbir and Ranveer.
So who has the edge between these two Gen Nexters (those born between 1980 1994)? Comparisons may be odious but are inevitable since the two have a lot of common, and there are two definite parties – Team Ranbir and Team Ranveer. I will share my favourite between the two when I conclude the feature but let us begin with what they have in common.
Both actors have strong charisma and an equally huge female fan following. However, I think Ranveer has an edge where the male followers are concerned because he has captured the imagination of action lovers (which has a huge male percentage) with his portrayal of the ruthless Alauddin Khilji in Padmaavat and the corrupt, tough police officer in the titular role of Simmba.
While Ranbir is more of an introvert, Ranveer is of course giddily extroverted and ostentatious. Both are media darlings – Ranbir is the perfect gentleman and the ladies’ man who dresses oh-so-dapperly and speaks sensibly whereas Ranveer has captured the fascination of the media with his quirky quotes and quirkier sense of dressing that the photographers and the Twitterati can’t have enough of.
Most importantly, both are tremendous actors albeit with different styles. Ranbir has the gift for slipping seamlessly into his character and has already accumulated an impressive body of work in starkly different roles over 10 years – Raajneeti, Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahaani, Rockstar, Barfi, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani and Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. On the other hand, Ranveer exudes a lot of physical energy and excels at etching splashy or larger-than-life characters as in Band Baaja Baraat, Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela and Bajirao Mastaani, playing them with credible flourish and flamboyance.
Come to think of it, Ranveer and Ranbir also have some strange connections meshing their lives – Ranbir was launched by Sanjay Leela Bhansali in Saawariya … and Ranveer hit the big time thanks to the trio of Bhansali hits (Goliyon Ki Leela Rasleela, Bajirao Mastaani and Padmaavat). Also Ranveer married the woman Ranbir had once famously dated – Deepika Padukone. Admirably, this has not come in the way of their becoming the mutual-admiration society that was on display in their together interview on Koffee with Karan. Irrespective of who wears the box-office crown, their camaraderie in the given circumstances is commendable.
If I were to review Ranbir and Ranveer’s career in 2018, Sanju was a saviour for Ranbir considering he had suffered quite a few box office reverses. Sanju won hosannas for the actor and set the cash registers ringing too. Critics had reason to call the film a whitewash – an inbuilt failing in Hindi film biographies – but Ranbir’s reprising of Sanjay Dutt was almost flawless.
The year 2018 was bookended by two impactful performances from Ranveer – the year began with buzz about his portrayal of Khilji in the quasi-historical Padmaavat; and the annum ended with him becoming the talking point for the gusto with which he played a rumbustious cop with a Marathi accent (who could tell that Ranveer is a Sindhi?) in Simmba. Recently, a friend came out of a screening of Simmba fanning herself and phewed, “Ranveer Singh is too hot.”
If I were a producer today, I would be willing to pay Ranbir and Ranveer the same amount of crores. But let’s see how 2019 could impact a change. In keeping with his experimental and selective strategy, Ranbir will be seen in trusted ally, Ayan Mukherjee’s Brahmastra. The film, a star-studded affair with Amitabh Bachchan and Dimple Kapadia headlining the cast, has been described by Ayan as a contemporary film with ancient elements.
Ranveer Singh, on the other hand, will be seen in Zoya Akhtar’s Gully Boy, in which he plays a rapper, and will start shooting for Karan Johar’s multi-starrer biggie, Takht. Interesting aside: Once again Ranbir and Ranveer have a beautiful woman in common – albeit professionally this time. Alia Bhatt is the heroine of Brahmastra as well as Gully Boy and Takht, though with the hero of the former she also has an off-screen relationship.
So with whom does my allegiance lie? I have always been attracted to performances more than stars. Also, I prefer understated performers to flamboyant ones. In the ’70s I liked Shatrughan Sinha but I liked Vinod Khanna more. Without contesting anyone’s talent, in my book, Ranbir has a slim edge over Ranveer currently. But who knows … a landmark film this year could tilt the scale in favour of the other.
May the best ‘Ran’ win.