Jabariya Jodi could elevate Parineeti Chopra, Sidharth Malhotra's careers to Alia Bhatt-Varun Dhawan's stardom
As Parineeti Chopra and Sidharth Malhota were put in the same bracket as Alia Bhatt and Varun Dhawan respectively, Jabariya Jodi might be their do-or-die attempt at reclaiming the same positions.
Prashant Singh's romantic comedy Jabariya Jodi releases on 9 August, reuniting Sidharth Malhotra with Parineeti Chopra, who previously shared the screen in Vinil Mathew's urban rom-com Hasee Toh Phasee five years ago.
Malhotra was the new kid on the block back then as it was his first film post his big-budget acting debut, mentor Karan Johar's campus caper Student of the Year. In the same year as its sequel, starring Tiger Shroff, Sidharth is returning to Bollywood screens; it's been over a year since his last outing, Neeraj Panday's espionage thriller Aiyaary. A lot has happened in the five years since HTP, which have not been particularly exciting ones for Malhotra.
After Hasee Toh Phasee, Malhotra had his first solo blockbuster, Mohit Suri's revenge saga Ek Villain. Probably in a bid to repeat the box office performance of that film, he will be seen reuniting with his Ek Villain co-star Riteish Deshmukh in Marjaavaan, releasing on 2 October. A year after Ek Villain, he faced the first failure of his career in Karan Malhotra's family sports drama Brothers, that also had the backing of Akshay Kumar. He delivered a hit the next year in Shakun Batra's family drama Kapoor & Sons, though it also starred Rishi Kapoor, Fawad Khan, and Alia Bhatt. However, his next solo release, Nitya Mehra's Baar Baar Dekho opposite Katrina Kaif, flopped in the same year.
2017 was supposed to be the year of Sidharth Malhotra with two offbeat big-budget films, well out of his comfort zone of urban rom-coms. However, he faced three flops, or moderately successful films, in a row — Raj and DK's action thriller A Gentleman, Abhay Chopra's remake of the classic 1969 thriller Ittefaq, and Aiyaary in February 2018. He took a minor sabbatical, realigned his choices, and is back with an impressive slate, comprising Jabariya Jodi and Marjaavaan this year, and debutant director Vishnuvardhan's biopic of Kargil martyr Vikram Batra, titled Sher Shah, opposite Kiara Advani.
However, when he started, Sidharth was put in the same category as his fellow Student of the Year debutant Varun Dhawan. However, Dhawan went on to rule the box office with consecutive blockbusters, including off-beat films like Sriram Raghavan's revenge thriller Badlapur and Shoojit Sircar's slice-of-life drama October. The only big-budget misfire of his seven-year long career has been Abhishek Varman's period romance Kalank earlier this year.
On the other hand, Parineeti was considered in the same range as Alia Bhatt, who started a few months after she did. However, once again, Alia went on to rule the roost, and the failure of Vikas Bahl's wedding comedy Shaandar could not weigh down her spirits as she regained both box office pull and critical acclaim with Abhishek Chaubey's Udta Punjab, Shashank Khaitan's Dulhania franchise, Gauri Shinde's Dear Zindagi, and Meghna Gulzar's espionage thriller Raazi. While her latest release, Kalank, bombed at the box office, she has the most impressive slate of a Bollywood leading lady at this moment.
The trajectory of Parineeti has not been the same though. She started on a commendable note as one of the second leads in Manish Sharma's 2011 film Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl. As the solo heroine, she proved her mettle in Habib Faisal's Ishaqzaade the next year. In 2013, she reunited with Sharma for Shudhh Desi Romance, which fared moderately well at the box office. But her biggest setback later that year came with Faisal's food film Daawat-e-Ishq. Her mood would not have been dampened had her next film not be the box office dud it was, Shaad Ali's action comedy Kill Dil.
Recently, on FC Unfiltered, Parineeti said that after the two big flops, she turned into a "zombie" at home. Since she was also diagnosed with clinical depression during that phase, she avoided social interactions and felt increasingly isolated. However, she bounced back three years later with Aksay Roy's Meri Pyaari Bindu. While the romantic drama turned out to be a flop, she chose not to go into that shell again because she realised how miserable it was to be in there, in the first place.
She went on to deliver the biggest hit of her career the same year with Rohit Shetty's horror comedy Golmaal 4, in which she played a ghost opposite Ajay Devgn. However, the next year, Vipul Shah's romantic comedy Namaste England, opposite Arjun Kapoor, bombed yet again at the box office. But she retaliated with a hit earlier this year in Anurag Singh's period war drama Kesari, as Akshay Kumar's wife. After Jabariya Jodi, in which she seems to have a far bigger role than she did in Kesari, she has got an interesting line-up: Dibakar Banerjee's Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar, opposite Arjun, and Abhishek Dhudhariya's period drama Bhuj: The Pride of India next year, where she will reunite with Ajay Devgn and share the mantle with Sonakshi Sinha. She also has a bunch of female-led films. She has started shooting for Ribu Dasgupta's Hindi remake of Hollywood film The Girl On The Train, and Amol Gupte's biopic of ace badminton player Saina Nehwal, which she has started prepping for on the court.
Meri Pyaari Bindu seemed to have given Parineeti a direction, in more ways than one. In an interview with Film Companion, she explained what Shah Rukh Khan refers to as the "filmy acting". It basically means pitching higher so that one resonates with people from all classes and backgrounds in India. Parineeti seems to have taken to that approach, as proved by her films after that. Given the alternate streak of a hit and a flop, it does not work for her all time, clearly. But what it gives her probably is the hope that she will get it right sometime.
The failure of Kalank only proves that no star is immune to box office duds. Given how Jabariya Jodi fares at the box office, both Sidharth and Parineeti have a chance to catapult themselves back to where they started originally, in the same league as potentially huge stars in Varun Dhawan and Alia Bhatt.
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