Decoding Ranbir Kapoor and the curiosity created by his silence on social media
In a universe where publicists share every detail of a celebrity, right from airport departures to arrivals, to temple visits or (OMG!) a new pet in the household, that Ranbir Kapoor stays in the headlines ever so often makes for introspection.
To begin with, Kapoor is not on social media nor has a publicist, but is always watched and reported upon. Now that his roller-coaster and ever-so-speculated-upon relationship with Katrina Kaif is over, Kapoor’s films have now taken over. Most recently, his Dutt biopic photographs have gotten both media and fans going gaga over his resemblance to Sanju Baba.
How does this work? Given that his perennially-in-the-making Jagga Jasoos is still getting postponed, it’s nothing short of a wonder that he is still considered top-billing and a much-adored star of this generation.
Unlike most senior actors and his contemporaries, Kapoor doesn’t have too many films with mass appeal. Playing Rocket Singh, Barfi or Ved in Tamasha don’t qualify as the typical Hindi film hero. Yet, his films are awaited with bated breath. A streak of flops that culminated in the disastrous Bombay Velvet still didn’t sink him. Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, which also featured Anushka Sharma and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan as parallel top-billed stars, was a hit at best. Despite this, Kapoor’s films remain highly awaited and anticipated even when they don’t release on time, like his debut production Jagga Jasoos.
Decoding the Ranbir Kapoor phenomenon begins with the obvious question: what is it that makes him ever so attractive to people? The biggest draw for this Kapoor scion remains his reticence to be a star, at least publicly. And the second fact is his unconventional choice of roles, which he often owns in a convincing manner.
So when he turns up in photographs on social media closely resembling Sanjay Dutt in gait, physicality and mannerism, you can’t help but be a little thrilled. Kapoor had jokingly mentioned during a media interaction for his music streaming company that he finds it tough to gain weight, and therefore, becoming Sanjay Dutt is a challenge physically. One look at his photos in a blue shirt and you see that the weight has been gained, much to the film’s advantage. And then you are bound to wonder — for such a reticent movie star who doesn’t want to be on social media ever, how have the pictures of his transformation made it online in a serialized, systematic manner?
Therein lies the smart thinking that Ranbir has employed for some time now. He will let his work do the talking through other people. So posting pictures of RK as Dutt is fine, so long as the attention remains firmly on his film. Subtly, Kapoor has succeeded in establishing himself as the best fit to play Dutt onscreen in people’s minds. Even Sanjay Dutt himself seems to be wooed, or so a ‘source’ says.
Similarly, for Dragon, his upcoming superhero film for Ayan Mukherjee, we get to read little bits all the time. While Dragon is still some time away from going on floors, Kapoor as a superhero has built sufficient excitement.
One must note the fact that Ranbir wasn’t always like this. His relationships with Deepika Padukone and Katrina Kaif were all that the media tracked religiously for quite some time. At times, he seemed tired of it all, which is why, the strategic emergence of news and photos of his upcoming film seems like a smart move. And even if Kapoor doesn’t have a publicist, clearly some thinking has gone in churning the curiosity machine.
This very surprising aspect about Ranbir is also evident from the Jagga Jasoos trailer. It was loved and applauded by everyone. After the first bang, now there is radio silence on the film. See, the curiosity churn at work here again!
Post the debacle of Bombay Velvet and in the promotional phase of Tamasha, Ranbir subtly but slyly mentioned that the best roles still come to him. Not quite true, given that Ranveer Singh has an envious line up of roles like Alauddin Khilji in Padmavati and a rapper in Gully Boy. Yet, somehow, Ranbir is viewed and treated with respect by filmmakers that matter. His reluctance to drive publicity openly seems to have won him grudging respect from filmmakers and the film fraternity.
In the end, it will be interesting to see how Kapoor fares long-term in Bollywood. Does he have the staying power of a Khan yet? Or will he lose out due to his reluctance to be ‘out there’? One can’t ever predict the fate of a film. However, I will risk saying this — if you are vociferous, then it helps to be as smart and witty as Shah Rukh Khan. Else, silences and smart thinking in the PR realm might be the best strategy for an actor in today’s overexposed and frenetic public spectrum.