Why Kartik Aaryan is Bollywood's new star on the block
His rise to fame is stuff tinseltown dreams are made of
Published: Fri 12 Apr 2019, 12:15 AM
Last updated: Fri 19 Apr 2019, 8:49 AM
There's nothing quite as heartwarming as a struggle-to-success story. Of course, at the same time, there's a darker side to the Bollywood moon. When an aspiring actor gains stardom, the fan adulation swells beyond control. Consequently, there's an in-built danger. What if the newly-minted star loses touch with the ground reality?
Indeed, there have been countless instances of actors becoming power-drunk once they find a toe-hold in the fiercely competitive movie industry. Far too often, punctuality at shoots, agreement with the director's instructions and sheer professionalism go for a toss. Here's hoping then that the new star on the block, Kartik Aaryan, will keep his cool and balance in the forever-seesawing realm of show business.
Just like Ayushmann Khurrana and Vicky Kaushal, the 28-year-old actor is in heavy demand. It had to happen perhaps. The A-lister heroes are either getting on in years or demand such astronomical fees and a hefty percentage in their films' profits that producers and financiers have been waiting for options who can attract footfalls to the multiplexes, especially during the opening weekend.
Ayushmann, at the age of 34, is snowed under with offers, particularly after his nuanced performances consecutively, in 2017 with Bareilly Ki Barfi and Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, and the next year with Badhaai Ho and Andhadhun.
After the whooper success of the January-premiered Uri: The Surgical Strike, Vicky Kaushal, at 30, is flying high. He has replaced Shah Rukh Khan in the biopic of Rakesh Sharma, the first Indian Air Force pilot to fly into space. Moreover, Vicky has become a favourite of Karan Johar's Dharma Productions and has been cast in a key role in the Mughal epic Takht, which is in the pre-production stage presently.
While Vicky's father Shyam Kaushal has been a stalwart action director for decades, Ayushmann comes from a middle class family from Chandigarh. Kartik is the son of a doctor couple of Gwalior. Both the 'outsiders', so to speak, have made it in B-town without any family connections.
What sets Kartik Aaryan (his birth name is Kartik Tiwari) apart from his peers, you might ask. At first sight, it would seem to be his boyish swag, a mound of gelled hair, an infectious grin and the ability to carry off lengthy pieces of dialogue in a single take.
Ideally suited for romedies, at the outset he was seen to an advantage in Pyaar Ka Punchnama (2011) and its sequel four years later, both films may have made profits but were criticised for their male chauvinistic outlook. Followed scarcely-seen downers like Akaash Vani (2013), an all too brief-role in Subhash Ghai's Kaanchi: The Unbreakable (2014), the short film Silvat (2016), and the execrable, oddly-spelt Guest iin London (2017) in which he played second fiddle to the high-jinks of Paresh Rawal.
Kartik's career could have experienced a Humpty-Dumpty-style fall into anonymity, if it were not for last year's surprise hit Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety, helmed by the Pyaar Ka Punchnama director Luv Ranjan. In this bromance, his character sought to save his closest buddy from a marriage with a suspected gold-digger. Again, the script tended to be offensively anti-women, but the audience wasn't deterred from queuing up in droves at the ticket windows.
If Kartik's next film - Lukka Chuppi - hadn't asserted that he exudes a pleasant screen presence and an innate flair for comic timing, chances are that there could have been a fade-out. Portraying a TV journalist, at long last, he was paired with a heroine, Kriti Sanon, depicted as an individual person with a mind of her own. Mercy be, he can't be ghettoised as an insensitive, male chauvinist anymore.
Naturally, the actor will have to be more picky about his future projects. Right now, he's been pencilled in for a remake of the vintage Sanjeev Kumar laugh-raiser Pati Patni Aur Woh (1978), besides an untitled project with Sara Ali Khan, being directed by the often-excellent-and-occasionally-disappointing Imtiaz Ali.
The off-screen image which Kartik projects currently - through a blitzkrieg of interviews (alas repetitive and boring) and social media platforms - is that of a boy who, like Alice, has tumbled into wonderland. There was a time when he would wait for hours outside the Mannat bungalow to catch a glimpse of Shah Rukh Khan, and stayed with a dozen flatmates in a tiny apartment in the far-flung suburbs. Kartik went through scores of auditions only to be rejected and was chosen for Pyaar Ka Punchnama only after going through innumerable look and diction tests.
If not an actor, his Plan B was to study biotechnology. Modelling once in a while, he roughed it out, and didn't inform his parents about his Bollywood dreams till he signed his first film contract. Now that the resilience has paid off, Kartik does make it clear in his conversations with journos that his story is the classic one of luck by chance.
It goes without saying that luck can be transient. Both Ayushmann and Vicky, especially, have proved themselves as actors of tremendous potential. Vis-à-vis Kartik, it still remains to be seen whether he is capable of growth as a versatile actor. Can he possibly carry off realistic, stark roles which his senior, Rajkummar Rao, has with deep conviction?
Kartik can be glamorous and a millennial pin-up boy, alright. Unflaggingly, the gossip mills have linked him with actresses Nushrat Bharucha, Sara Ali Khan and the still-to-debut Ananya Panday, which he has dismissed as rumours. On Koffee With Karan, however, he did admit that he was shattered on being jilted in his hometown by his girlfriend. Reason: she couldn't accept the prospect of leading the life of a star wife.
Now, there's a potential story for a movie in which he could be a perfect fit. Hundreds of dreamers struggle in Mumbai, particularly in the Andheri-Oshiwara belt where auditions for feature films, TV and web series, and ad films are conducted round the clock.
Kartik Aaryan has been there, done that. Uneasy, as they say, lies the head which wears the crown of stardom. Yet, something tells me the Gwalior boy is here to stay, touch oak.