Ranbir, Ranveer, Kartik—and who else will shine in 2023?

Ranbir Kapoor is having two interesting releases in 2023. Photo: Yash Raj Films

Despite the outburst by leading ladies on pay parity, the Hindi film industry, after the era of the 1950s, with only notable exceptions since (Hema Malini, Rekha, Sridevi, Madhuri Dixit Nene), has been a male-dominated industry, not so much because of gender biases as because of the simple math of economics.

The audience an Alia Bhatt (Raazi, Gangubai Kathiawadi) can command today is the highest possible for any heroine, and yet is sadly no match for the pulling power of the big heroes even when in off-mode. So in this scenario, which other heroes come close to the big names discussed last week, especially since all are being closely watched today, is the big question.

Trade experts Taran Adarsh and Komal Nahta both feel that the trio of Ranbir Kapoor, Ranveer Singh and Kartik Aaryan, are the closest new contenders. Ranveer, after a chain of hits, had got a clear-cut edge over the other two until his trio of famous flops, 83 (in 2021), Jayeshbhai Jordaar and Cirkus, shook him. Ranbir Kapoor has survived his Shamshera debacle thanks to Brahmastra—Part One: Shiva, while Kartik Aaryan, after Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2, is expected to rock again with the forthcoming Shehzada.

Kartik Aaryan has an edge over the young competition after Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2. Photo: Publicity Photo

“Kartik has an edge over everyone else among the latest generation, like Varun Dhawan, Sidharth Malhotra or Tiger Shroff,” says Taran. Agrees Komal: “After Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2, Kartik’s Shehzada is expected to do very well.”

It is common knowledge that the original of Shehzada, the Telugu blockbuster, Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo, was prevented from being released pan-India in a Hindi dubbed version, so that the remake will not suffer. In 2022 alone, many remakes, including Vikram Vedha and Jersey, have lost out because the originals had been already savored!

Another Kartik Aaryan project is his love story, Satyaprem Ki Katha, produced by Sajid Nadiadwala (who is himself looking for a turnaround after a barrage of flops). The film also reunites Kartik with his Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 leading lady Kiara Advani.

Ranveer Singh has two interesting projects, of which Karan Johar’s Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani will release this year. Photo: Yash Raj Films

About Ranveer Singh, Nahta says that you cannot crucify a man who has given six hits (Simmba and Gully Boy besides the Sanjay Leela Bhansali trio of Goliyon Ki RasLila—RamLila, Bajirao Mastani and Padmaavat) on the basis of one flop, Cirkus. “That film had a lazy script. But one hit, and like anyone else, he will be back.” Adds Adarsh: “Ranveer’s film with Karan Johar, Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani, is carrying great reports and it has a great cast and a solid director in Karan Johar.” The music by Pritam is also carrying great reports, just like Brahmastra.

Another film that has been announced a few months back is South bigwig Shankar’s cinematic adaptation of the epic, Velpari, a mega-budget film with VFX to match. Ranveer was to do another film with the director, which had landed in legal problems over its rights. But that will be a 2024 release as of now.

As for Ranbir Kapoor, the man has all along proved his acting credentials and fan following, come hit or flop, Nahta points out, “Ranbir has always let his work speak for him, which is good! Do you see him active on social media? No! Does he wear weird clothes and do airport talks and shoots. No! He has an aura just like the stars of the good old days possessed!”

Ranbir is now doing Animal, highly anticipated because of the teaser poster as well as its director, Sandeep Vanga Reddy of Kabir Singh fame, and also the diametrically opposite subject, Tu Jhoothi Main Makkar, a romantic comedy with Luv Ranjan. As Nahta puts it, “Ranbir is working with modern-day directors, which is an advantage. And few directors handle relationships as well as Luv Ranjan does.”

Tiger Shroff (Heropanti 2), Varun Dhawan (whose two movies in 2022, Jug Jugg Jeeyo and Bhediya, collected decent figures but could not recover their budgets, though Adarsh says they are average runners thanks to extra-theatrical revenues and are not flops), Sidharth Malhotra (Thank You) and Shahid Kapoor (Jersey) will all have to score with their films to come.

Tiger Shroff’s Ganapath is another high-voltage actioner, while his Bade Miyan Chote Miyan with Akshay Kumar will be a 2024 release. Varun is now making his web debut with the Indian version of Citadel, while also doing Bawaal with the redoubtable Nitesh Tiwari.

Shahid opens 2023 with his web debut, Raj & DK’s Farzi, and so does Sidharth Malhotra with the espionage drama on Netflix, Mission Majnu. Despite Thank God not working, Sidharth is in high fettle after his 2021 OTT winner Shershaah and is doing the action-oriented Yodha as well besides Rohit Shetty’s Indian Police Force.

Ayushmann Khurrana too has to recover (a lot of) lost ground with Dreamgirl 2, sequel to one of his past 100 crore grossers that had come when he was on a success streak. The good times, however, had ended in 2019, since after that every film (Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan, Gulabo Sitabo, Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui, Anek, Doctor G, An Action Hero) has turned turtle! And for John Abraham, who has had six flops and an unsung OTT release since his last hits, Parmanu: The Story of Pokhran and Satayameva Jayate,way back in 2018, it is an even more uphill task. Other than his negative role in Pathaan, he has nothing on hand.

Last but not least we have Arjun Kapoor, whose Kuttey is out this week, but is not a movie that look super-exciting.

All things considered, and apart from the South brigade of heroes who are  winning brownie points in pan-Indian fandom and popularity, Ranbir, Ranveer and Kartik remain the biggest challengers today.

But as box-office outcomes are always a matter of suspense, surprise and shock, 2023 is bound to be thrilling for all.






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