On Sidharth Malhotra's birthday, listing his six finest films from Ek Villain to Shershaah
The career-changing blockbuster, and one of Amazon Prime Video’s most successful indigenous products, Shershaah is to Malhotra’s career what Deewana was to Shah Rukh Khan and Jaanwar to Akshay Kumar.
When I saw Sidharth Malhotra in Karan Johar’s Student Of The Year I told Karan the young actor reminded me of Mr Bachchan from his Anand days. Initially when he came to Mumbai, he tried his luck as an actor. Malhotra met Anubhav Sinha; he was going to make a film with Malhotra in collaboration with Adlabs. But that didn’t work out, as Sinha got busy with Ra. One. After that, Malhotra told me he started questioning his decision to be an actor. “My parents in Delhi wondered what I was doing with my life. Yahan log aate hain actor bana-neke liye (People come here to be actors). I started assisting Karan Johar on My Name is Khan. People like Abhishek Burman, and Puneet Malhotra assisting at Dharma wanted to be directors. At that time, I never thought Karan would launch me as an actor. Life has a funny way of working out for you.”
Malhotra has come a long way since then. He once told me, “I’m just doing films that have a story to tell that I believe in. I grew up watching only good stories on screen. Back home in Delhi, we weren’t regular moviegoers. We were in no way connected to the movie industry. Our connection with the industry was the Bollywood blockbusters. I saw my mother watching movies of Yash Chopra and Amitabh Bachchan. And I grew up in the Shah Rukh Khan era. Now I’m a part of that dream world. I have so much to be grateful for and happy about. So, when I feel that a film not working for me is a setback, I look back with a sense of wonder, and then I’m okay.”
Here are the films that prove Malhotra can act.
1. Ek Villain (2014)
Though ‘villain’ Ritesh Deshmukh walked away with critical acclaim, Siddharth as the grieving hero packed in a certain mount of florid intensity combined with some terrific stunts. This was one of Malhotra’s earliest successes. Interestingly in his other release Hasee Toh Phasee the same year Malhotra happily allowed Parineeti Chopra to take centrestage.
2. Kapoor & Sons(2016)
This one featured a dreamlike ensemble cast including the great Rishi Kapoor, Ratna Pathak Shah, Rajat Kapoor and Karan Johar’s favourite Pakistani import Fawad Khan. But Sid Malhotra held his own, maybe because Alia Bhatt was also round. Back then they were supposed to be seeing one another. How time flies!
3. A Gentleman (2017)
This zany spy thriller featured Sid Malhotra in two avatars, an ordinary nerdy working-class guy and a 007 styled secret agent. I’m not sure how well he succeeded in pulling off the dual personality. But Malhotra did display the potential of being a full-on filmi hero, lights, fights, camera, and plenty of action.
4. Aiyaary (2018)
Having Manoj Bajpai as his co-star in this muddled war-espionage drama helped Siddharth negotiate the rocky terrain. He played Bajpai’s protégé, and that’s the relationship they shared in real life as well. I remember Manoj calling me up to “go easy” when during Aiyaary Sid got into trouble for some random comment on the Bhojpuri language.
5. Marjaavaan (2019)
Full-on masala action with Malhotra cast as a slum hero who grows up a goonda but reforms when love (Tara Sutaria) strikes him speechless. We know love is supposed to be blind. But this time ‘love’ was also mute. Tara spoke to Malhotra in sign language. The box office was barely kind to the love that was mute and blind. Bottom line: that one big hit still eludes Siddharth Malhotra’s career.
6. Shershaah (2021)
The career-changing blockbuster, and one of Amazon Prime Video’s most successful indigenous products, Shershaah is to Malhotra’s career what Deewana was to Shah Rukh Khan and Jaanwar to Akshay Kumar. That turning point where the actor has finally accrued some amount of acceptance. He played the real-life martyr Vikram Batra with full-on earnestness. Vikram Batra’s brother Vishal said to me, “Siddharth met us many times to understand Vikram as a son, a brother and a soldier. He met Mom and Dad. He met our sisters and a lot of Vikram’s comrades. He tried to get into the skin of my brother’s character. I think Siddharth instinctively understood the gravity of his responsibility. He couldn’t afford to slip up.
Not when he was portraying someone who means so much to the country. he has put in a lot of hard work to understand Vikram as a character and to play him as honestly as possible. And for him to go to Kargil and shoot there at a height of 2,000 feet …this is not an easy task for a civilian. Of course, it is not the same as what our soldiers faced 22 years ago when they fought the war. But for Sidharth to go down to Kargil and relive what our soldiers did, couldn’t have been easy. I have to give it to him. He’s done a good job. I keep reading how much my brother’s story inspired Sidharth. I hope it inspires other youngsters as well to join the army.”
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