My wife and I were discussing Hrithik yesterday. A look at his recent releases (insofar as the word “recent” could be used to mean “the last five years”) reveals that he hasn’t had a flop in a while. But then, he hasn’t done too many movies recently either. You get one Hrithik movie a year on average, it makes a heck of a lot of money, everybody goes home happy. It’s a good strategy, I suppose.
But what about Hrithik as an actor? The lesser the number of releases, the more the expectations (commercial and otherwise) from each release. What this means is that there isn’t much margin for error, and consequently for experimentation. The last movie where he really had to stretch himself as an actor was Koi… Mil Gaya. And that was, mind you, a movie that helped him pull himself out of the rut of bad movies he had been doing at the time. Since then, Hrithik’s choices have all been about minimizing variance.
It is not like he has done the same role over and over again. He played an immature half-adult turning into an officer and a hero in Lakshya, a superhero in Krrish, an ace burglar in Dhoom 2 and a young emperor in Jodhaa Akbar. That is more variety than most others have managed. And what is more, he has been, consistently, the best reason to watch each of these movies. In some cases, Dhoom 2 in particular, the only reason even.
But these roles have required him to play characters who are not far outside the range of his demonstrated ability. They have required him not to create, but to embody a character. Not that it hasn’t required effort. Each character has focused on a different facet — restraint and majesty in Jodhaa Akbar, freshness in Krrish, sheer style in D2… He has done extremely well, to be sure.
But has he gone out on a limb and truly transformed himself? Created someone out of thin air? Does he want to?