Ranbir Kapoor shouldn't worry about multiple releases in a year in times when accessibility defines stardom

Ranbir Kapoor shouldn't worry about multiple releases in a year in times when accessibility defines stardom

Three years ago, Shah Rukh Khan explained in an interview to News18 why he thinks the definition of stardom is gradually changing. "There's a strange kind of equality coming in the world where stardom is not that you're at the top of the order. It's not anything to look up upon. The new stars will be more akin to being with people, not enigmatic, not hidden, not inaccessible. There are no Greta Garbo times now. I'm no longer overawed. If your access is interesting to me, you're a star for me."

Fast forward to 2019, and SRK has taken a minor sabbatical from acting. After the heartbreaking failure of his last film, Aanand L Rai's fantasy drama Zero, SRK admits he does not have anything "scintillating" to work on and would rather spend his time introspecting. It is a brave decision at the current stage of his career. He could have conveniently taken his super stardom for granted but he probably wants to invest more in his relatability factor in order to cater to the changing expectations of the new generation.

When a superstar of his stature is struggling at the box office, it is wise of him to not sign his next film until he feels right.

But such a gap may not work in favour of Ranbir Kapoor, whose next film, Ayan Mukerji's supernatural drama Brahmastra, has been pushed to summer 2020. It will release two years after his last film, Rajkumar Hirani's Sanjay Dutt biopic Sanju. Since his last release was a blockbuster, Ranbir expressed disappointment in the delay of Brahmastra but also explained why he cannot help it in the capacity of an actor.

"We really want to make the film to the best of its capabilities. It's unfortunate that we could not make the December release date (Christmas 2019) because of various reasons like computer graphics. The CGI would not have been ready. So, it's sad my film will release after a two-year gap with Sanju and I think it's not a good thing for an actor to have a such a long gap. But again, it's not in my hand. What really matters is that you work hard for a film and you come up with a good film," Ranbir said at a recent media interaction.

There is merit in Ranbir's concern since it would take a toll on a star's fan base if they appear in films two years apart. The exception of course is Aamir Khan, but only because he is 20 years into his career. Even after his last multi-hundred crore misfire, Vijay Krishna Acharya's period drama Thugs Of Hindostan that released on Diwali last year, he is determined to continue his two-year-gap policy. His next film, Advait Chandan's Forest Gump remake Lal Singh Chaddha, will only release on Christmas 2020, when it is scheduled to clash with Luv Ranjan's untitled next, starring Ranbir and Ajay Devgn.

When Ranbir was asked to respond to the above mentioned clash at the same media interaction, he revealed that he may get Ranjan to postpone their film. "Since Brahmastra is being pushed and it will be followed by Shamshera, I think Luv Ranjan's film also might have to go ahead because audiences may get bored if I have three releases in a year," he said.

In times when three releases in a year is a common practice for superstars of his age, Ranbir seems to be stuck in the era when superstars feared too many releases at the risk of getting overexposed. It would have made even a little sense had the three films been homogeneous. Though all three reportedly have action in common but they are distinctly different even on paper. While Brahmastra is a supernatural film and Karan Malhotra's Shamshera is a dacoit drama, Ranjan's next is rumoured to be an action romance.

Three starkly different films by directors with very distinct voices will only give Ranbir fans a binge-watching experience. In times when the audience is progressively warming up to longer formats of storytelling, thanks to the boom of streaming content, three films in a year does not sound like a desperate business decision. Ranbir's contemporary Ranveer Singh recently had three releases within the span of approximately one year. Sanjay Leela Bhansali's period drama Padmaavat, Rohit Shetty's cop drama Simmba and Zoya Akhtar's coming-of-age musical Gully Boy were all bonafide blockbusters, despite belonging to completely different genres. Interestingly, Ranveer is even more exposed to his fans than Ranbir, given his omnipresence on social media platforms and red carpet events.

Ranveer's winning streak proves SRK's prophecy right about accessibility replacing mystique as the primary defining quality of a new-age star.

Ranbir seems to be stuck in a time warp of probably his legendary father or grandfather's times when a star was synonymous with being unapproachable. But to place himself on such a lofty pedestal in times when not only stars, but even their films, are increasingly becoming relatable, is a disservice to both the loyalty and sensibility of his fans, and also his limitless talent. While his decision to not hop on to the social media bandwagon is a personal one, postponing a film (Luv Ranjan's) just for the sake of avoiding overexposure is misplaced.

He could take a cue from Alia Bhatt. Unarguably the most successful female star today, she recently had three releases within a year in Meghna Gulzar's espionage thriller Raazi, Gully Boy and Abhishek Varman's period drama Kalank. While the first two were blockbusters, the third one turned out to be a failure. She could have easily attributed the same to Ranbir's theory that she probably overexposed herself despite being an ace star. But here she is ready to release as many as five films next year in Brahmastra, Mahesh Bhatt's Sadak 2, SS Rajamouli's RRR, Bhansali's romantic drama Inshallah, and Karan Johar's period drama Takht.

One could argue that a female star, unfortunately so, does not have as much a say in when to release the film. But there is also Salman Khan, who will be seen in three films within a year as well, in Ali Abbas Zafar's coming-of-age film Bharat (Eid 2019), Prabhu Deva's cop drama Dabangg 3 (20 December, 2019) and Inshallah (Eid 2020). There is also Akshay Kumar, who after starring in Anurag Singh's period drama Kesari earlier this year, will be seen in at least three more films in 2019 — Jagan Shakti's Mission Mangal, Farhad Samji's ensemble comedy Housefull 4 and Raj Mehta's urban romantic comedy Good News. He also has three releases lined for next year in Rohit Shetty's cop drama Sooryavanshi, Raghava Lawrence's horror film Laxmi Bomb, and Chandraprakash Dwivedi's Prithviraj Chauhan biopic, along with his digital debut, an Amazon Prime Video India Original tentatively titled The End.

Even Ranbir's Luv Ranjan film co-star Ajay Devgn has three releases within a year in Indra Kumar's ensemble comedy Total Dhamaal, Akiv Ali's romantic comedy De De Pyaar De and his period war drama Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior. He also has Abhishek Dudhaiya's period drama Bhuj: The Pride Of India next year.

Ranbir must learn from all these superstars. It would be fruitful if he learns to adapt with the times, otherwise there may come a day where he is forced to take a sabbatical after a slew of flops to introspect when he lost that volatile connect with the masses.