From 'Saawariya' to 'Barfi!': Thank God for Ranbir Kapoor

When you are a rigorously-brought up Bengali - of the kind who hides behind volumes of Tagore and Feluda, come rain, heartbreak or organic chemistry - you don't take much delight in white, skinny men prancing around in towels. Or dropping them, not by accident and not with any dense metaphorical implication.

That's what vamps-about-to-die do in Manmohan Desai-ish films and hence remain banished forever from the intellectual fiefdom. Likewise, I chose to ignore Ranbir Kapoor. The Nick Carter-hair style, a decade too late, didn't help either.

And no, Wake Up Sid wasn't the watershed moment in my story of Ranbir Kapoor-affliction. In fact, it was far less cutesy and in no way aesthetically pleasing like his grunge-sexy turn in Rockstar. It was a Tata Docomo ad, that well, in Jerry Maguire-language, had me.

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Kapoor, with a prosthetic paunch, a wispy wig of white hair and sunken cheeks just had to throw a ‘to hell with you punks’ glare at his acting-shocked co-stars – and that did the trick. No, it’s not taking the older-man stereotype out of plausible proportions. Only, Kapoor seemed to have walked out of the TV screen and disappeared effortlessly behind memories of scores of such dread-inducing neighbours, shop-keepers, co-passengers who have enough murdered Saturdays to the credit. That, is hot.

Add to that how Sid made you feel a little less squeamish about being 18 almost a decade back, or how Rocket Singh made flunking in math seem cool. Yes, legions of Khan-loyalists would argue, there’s a very good scriptwriter wasting his midnight whiskey away, a bright director going bald behind the camera and a kick-ass editor glued to his comp screen, to make a bearded, buffoonish Rocket Singh drool-worthy.

Or you’re dismissed as a random cute-watcher who is only still drooling over the shaven clean, poster-boy cool Bolly-star behind each of those characters. Given RK is struggling to find a way with words still, you can’t yet snatch the crown of cockiness from the feuding Khans and give it to him, but how can you not like the man who makes even the tapori so aww-inspiring?

Case in point, over-the-top tapori dance in Chillar Party or the bumbling, hardly heroic hero in Ajab Prem ki Gajab Kahani. However much I love Ghulam, Aamir’s tapori was the oozing hotness, stud-muffin tapori, found only in Bollywood. Not two lanes down your house in Bombay.

RK’s tapori, on the other hand, is found in the hundreds – from the Ganpati mandals of Mumbai to the bhashan in Kolkata. Think Rockstar, before Imtiaz Ali drove the film into rock-starring a perfectly real person.

Understandably, I have been obsessing a bit over Barfi. Everything from the micro-pony, to the Thompson and Thomson cycle ride poster, and the road Romeo-ness on the streets of Darjeeling are delightful. Also, true to my Bong-hood, I squealed a bit every time the tram rolls into the screen in the trailer. I have given up on Hrithik Roshan ever since he agreed to soul search with a waxed, bronzed chest in Spain and showed the same off as an implausibly well-maintained gunda in Agneepath.

Thank god for Murphy, his smart alecky-ness, his nothing-shattering good looks and been there-seen that herogiri. Ranbir Kapoor is just what you needed on a dank humourless monsoon weekend – the hero-next-door.