The family legacy Ranbir Kapoor carries in Hindi cinema is long and memorable – Great Grandfather Prithviraj Kapoor, Great Grand Uncle Trilok Kapoor, Grandfather Raj Kapoor, Grand Uncles Shammi Kapoor and Shashi Kapoor, father Rishi Kapoor, Uncles Randhir Kapoor and Rajeev Kapoor, cousins Kunal Kapoor, Karan Kapoor, Karisma Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor. And this is just the direct family coming down from Prithviraj Kapoor! There’s mother Neetu Singh, aunt Babita, grand uncles on hios grandmother’s side – Premnath, Narendranath and Rajendranath…If one goes on, one would encompass practically the entire Hindi film industry!
The son of actors Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh, both stars in their own right who formed a hit jodi in their heyday, Ranbir Kapoor was born on September 28, 1982. Though uncertain about what he wanted to do in life, he knew it would always be something to do with films. He assisted his father in Aa Ab Laut Chale (1999) besides also assisting Sanjay Leela Bhansali in Black (2005).
Bhansali decided to launch Ranbir and fellow assistant Sonam Kapoor (Anil Kapoor’s daughter) in his adaptation of White Nights, Saawariya (2007). It was a dream come true for Ranbir as he says he joined Bhansali hoping Bhansali would notice him and cast him in his next film after Black. It happened with Saawariya.
However Saawariya was extremely disappointing for a Sanjay Leela Bhansali film. In the overblown film with stilted theatrics, Ranbir gets totally defeated by the script. Often, he comes across as a silly juvenile clown rather than a likeable young man in love. At times his ‘cute’ acts are just cringe worthy. Further, everything is done to reinforce the fact that a Kapoor from a new generation is entering Bollywood thus burdening Ranbir even more. So you have a world of the Kapoor family around Ranbir. There is a bar in the town named RK Bar against which you have Ranbir and Sonam in a pose, plenty of scenes in the rain, a Mrs D’Sa kind of landlady that Raj Kapoor had in Anari (1959), Ranbir wears a Chaplinesque derby, repeats his father’s baring act from Bobby (1973) and even retreads his dialogues form Karz (1980). It’s unfortunate because left to himself, there are enough moments in the film where he does show sparks of being a good performer who should just have been allowed to forge his own identity. He did win all the awards for Best Male Newcomer for Saawariya, though.
Fortunately for Ranbir, the sparks were seen by the people who matter. He was signed up by Yashraj films for Bachna Ae Hasseno (2008), where he appears far more open, likeable and confident as compared to Saawariya. In fact, Ranbir is undoubtedly the life and soul of the otherwise pedestrian film. He is confident, likeable and what’s more totally at home be it comic, serious or romantic scenes. Hindi cinema had found a brilliant, young new star who has proved to be a worthy addition to artists from the Kapoor dynasty. He seemed to be developing his own style and identity, but what he needed now were better films to really take off.
Wake Up Sid (2009), his third film as lead man, really saw Ranbir come into his own. From the likeable and unfocussed spoilt rich kid to the boy forced to get his life on track and accept his responsibilities and become an independent man in the process, he never strikes one false note in the film be it in thecomic moments or the more serious dramatic ones. Just see his joy as he finally manages to make his first fried egg or as he sees his by-line in the magazine. To put it simply, he is outstanding.
Ranbir is again the sole reason for watching Ajab Prem ki Ghazab Kahani (2009) and singularly responsible for its success. Admittedly, the role is a middle class version of his Wake Up Sid character but Ranbir is faultless in the film. He expertly plays the boy helping Katrina Kaif with her romance with Upen Patel even though it is killing him inside. He has a knack of drawing you into this character and making you care about what happens to him, something he achieves even in Shimit Amin’s earnest but disappointing Rocket Singh – Salesman Of The Year (2009).
2010 began well for Ranbir with critics and cinegoers applauding his act in Rajneeti, while he rose above the script in both Rockstar (2011) and Barfi! (2012), where the films, while having their moments were disappointing overall. However, Ranbir strongly re-affirmed the fact in both that he is easily one of the best actors in the country today. The super success of Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (2013) saw Ranbir getting closer to the three Khans in terms of popularity. Not only did Ranbir prove his acting credentials yet again, in a role that yet again saw him as a spoilt brat finding purpose (and Deepika Padukone) in his life, he scored heavily as a dancer particularly in the electric Budtameez Dil, easily the chartbuster number of the year.
The follow up has again been disappointing with Besharam (2013) – perhaps his weakest film yet and which also saw him acting him with his parents – and Roy (2015) failing to make any impact whatsoever. But his biggest disappointment has been Anurag Kashyap’s Bombay Velvet (2015), where he plays an aggressive go-getter street fighter in Bombay of the 1950s and 60s as the film sank without a trace making it one of the biggest money losers in the history of Hindi cinema.
Still, Ranbir is too good an actor to kept down and all he needs is the right film to bounce back. All eyes are towards Tamasha, re-uniting him with his Rockstar director, Imtiaz Ali, and Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani co-star, Deepika Padukone.
On the personal front, Ranbir has been linked to his co-stars Deepika Padukone and later on Katrina Kaif, with whom he is said to be currently involved.