There is no doubt that Aamir Khan, Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan have been ruling Bollywood’s box office since the 90s and they have been fabulously consistent both in India and overseas. The Khans have also left their footprints in television and the advertising world too. All three of them have now crossed fifty years of age and are still churning out movies after movies.
Matching their charisma and popularity may not be an easy feat by the new generation of actors, despite their physique and PR machine. Competition is fierce in Bollywood. You can disappear in less than a year. The list of young actors competing in the industry keeps growing daily.
Among them, it is Varun Dhawan who is leading the pack! Son of renowned director David Dhawan, who is known for his successful commercial entertainers with Sanjay Dutt, Govinda and Salman Khan, his consistent success at the box office makes him a clear winner. Has it to do with his choice of films? Is he a formulaic actor? Actually, Varun Dhawan has essayed a number of different roles. At the moment, he is the only one from his generation, who has the biggest potential to be a superstar.
What is so special about his movies?
After making his debut in Karan Johar’s ‘Student of the Year’, which was a box office success, it took him a while before being properly recognized as the other debutants, Siddharth Malhotra and Alia Bhatt received more credit. In his second film ‘Main Tera Hero’ directed by his father David Dhawan, the audience noticed his comic timing as an actor and also his dancing skills. The film was a runway success. ‘Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania’ was the biggest turning point in his career and made him a star. This romantic film was loved by the masses and his equation with Alia Bhatt was one of the highlights because of their beautiful chemistry as a romantic pair.
He then followed it up with ‘Badlapur’ as an anti-hero. It was his first niche film. It did well at the box office and also earned him a lot of critical acclaim, because he was portrayed by three different characters. Instantly, he shoved off his image and the Indian audience started to look up to him beyond being a commercial hero. He continued his box office success with Remo D’Souza dance film ‘ABCD 2’. This film was his first Rs. 100 Cr club success at box office in India. His magic at box office continued with the highly hyped ‘Dilwale’. He then starred in his brother’s Rohit Dhawan’s ‘Dishoom’ alongside John Abraham, which was accepted by his fans. ‘Badrinath Ki Dulhaniya’ was a big success at the box office. The industry received a form of confirmation that moviegoers love his pairing with Alia Bhatt. This romantic comedy with a social message was widely accepted.
With David Dhawan ‘Judwaa 2’, he enjoyed a bigger success at the box office. It was the first time, he played a double role in his career and it proved lucky for him. The film relied on him entirely and he managed to make everyone laugh. Critics are of the opinion that it showed his growth as an actor. Shoojit Sircar’s ‘October’, a niche film, brought him lot of critical acclaim as an actor but it underperformed. He mastered the Uttar Pradesh lingo well in his dialogues.
‘Sui Dhaaga – Made in India’ saw him changing his looks and adding a moustache for his role. He got into the character of ‘Mauji’ playing a tailor in film with perfection and using the local dialect was brilliant. We saw him driving expensive cars in his first film ‘Student of the Year’ and now cycling in his last one. He plays a character who comes from an average financial background and who is struggling in his career. He has an excellent chemistry with his wife, played by Anushka Sharma, who encourages the entrepreneurial spirit in him. Varun Dhawan has given his career best acting performance in ‘Sui Dhaaga – Made in India’.
What is his successful formula?
The chiseled 32-year old actor has a knack for choosing good scripts! He can deliver good content movies. From ‘Badlapur’ to ‘October’ and then the big grossers like ‘Badrinath Ki Dulhaniya’ ‘Judwaa 2’ and the occasional ‘Dishoom’, he knows how to play his cards. He did not commit the same mistake as Ranbir Kapoor. He understands films are made to entertain. An actor can do different kinds of films, made in an entertaining manner for everyone to enjoy. His strategic moves heavily depended on the idea that actors need to juggle between commercial and niche films in the right manner. The success of your commercial films increases your fans and provides you freedom to do niche films with better budgets.
Furthermore, his casting directors knew that the pairing with Alia Bhatt would work and in a true sense, they have been billed as the new generation’s Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol. This has worked for ‘Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania’ and ‘Badrinath Ki Dulhaniya’, both directed by Shashank Khaitan.
One cannot deny that even though he was launched by a big banner, Varun Dhawan has continuously worked hard on his physique, his comic timing, his dancing skills and the way he handles emotional scenes. No doubt, his boyish charm and “tapoori” style have helped him to bag more projects.
Does he take risks?
He is probably the biggest risk taker in the industry. Although it is pointless to compare him with Shah Rukh Khan, who took the biggest risk of his career and did ‘Darr’ and ‘Baazigar’ as the villain to debut his career, Varun did ‘Badlapur’, at a time when he was still not established as a hero in Bollywood. The dividends paid off and the offbeat film escalated his position. However, ‘October’ was not as successful. It has even been reported that he waived his fees for ‘October’. He is also yet to do full-fledged action film to be judged there.
Who can he be compared to?
Critics have been constantly comparing him to Salman Khan and Govinda. David Dhawan has given both of them a series of hits and it is common that he took the best from both. Looking at the current trend, he is most likely to be compared to Rajesh Khanna in terms of number of hits delivered.
What about controversies?
Varun Dhawan has stayed away from all controversies.
Is he dating someone from the film industry?
Varun Dhawan and Natasha Dalal are currently in a steady relationship, which is considered rock solid, as it has started well before Varun met with success in Bollywood. She is a designer by profession. The couple has been media shy for long time until a picture of them surfaced on Instagram. Varun has admitted the fact.
Who has he taken over from the current rat race?
Sidharth Malhotra who debuted with him is no more in the race. He has been seldom criticized for his wooden expressions, despite having a good physique. Ranbir Kapoor who captured the audience’s attention with ‘Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani’, could not match it up again and delivered duds like ‘Besharam’, ‘Roy’, ‘Bombay Velvet’, ‘Tamasha’ and ‘Jagga Jasoos’. ‘Sanju’ turned the tides. Arjun Kapoor could not make the most of his star power after the success of ‘2 States’. The average grosser ‘Mubarakan’ and the recently flopped ‘Namaste England’ badly affected his position in the industry and he is having a hard time positioning himself. Even ‘Panipat’ with Sanjay Dutt is looking dated! Sushant Singh Rajput, who was touted as one of the most reliable actors in the industry, is likely to vanish and could not maintain his momentum. ‘Raabta’ crushed all his chances and it is hard for him to create his identity in Bollywood.
Then, who are his real competitors?
Ranveer Singh is his first and direct competitor. After the success of ‘Padmavat’, his star power soared. Wedding news to Deepika Padukone has made him a bigger star. He also comes from the Yash Raj camp and is backed by Aditya Chopra, even though, ‘Bekifre’ flopped big time. He is charismatic and humble. His next real competitor is Tiger Shroff. After the success of ‘Baaghi 2′, Tiger has shown his box office power. Backed by Sajid Nadiawala, Tiger is very focused and works hard to meet producers’ demands.
And what about competition with the Khans?
The Khans have already fully established themselves in the industry and they have a solid fan base in India and overseas. Technically, one cannot call it competition. Varun Dhawan is still making a name for himself, despite the number of hits to his credit so far. Shah Rukh Khan, an acute businessman, a producer since 1999 and a superstar who has drawn the masses, decided to choose Varun Dhawan for ‘Dilwale’. This showed that he believed in his star power. However, there is no question of competition.
The last word?
As an actor, Varun Dhawan is very well aware of his increasing star power and the recent box office results show that he is not someone, who is afraid to take risks ahead. The sense of insecurity can occur at any time in Bollywood as no-one can be safely termed as secured. Shah Rukh Khan’s last few movies did not do well at the box office, despite his status. Varun Dhawan maintains a balanced lifestyle – he is focused on this work, his humbleness and his outlook on life make him widely accepted in Bollywood. ‘Kalank’ is hugely awaited in 2019. Is he a superstar yet? Only time can tell. In Bollywood, everything is possible.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors.