Like most, I went to watch Raanjhanaa with drooping spirits and I came out smiling gleefully to myself. Not because, I found the movie fantastic. Undoubtedly its first half was wonderful, but the smiles were because I almost had a crush on Dhanush! While colleagues laughed at me for it, I still maintain that for a large part of the film I found great difficulty in taking my eyes off Dhanush, despite a more cutesy and dimpled Abhay Deol sharing screen space for a while. Abhay, with his chocolate boy looks, is an obvious plus. But that’s not the highlight point of the film – it is the Southern star’s innocence, naivety and the mirth he minutely renders on screen with each slide.
The nonsense Kolaveri Di was an immediate hit with most, while I managed to keep my detest for it intact. However, as the persistent wrist slashing stalker Kunder, Dhanush is endearing. You don’t care about his typical un-superstar like looks. It is his graceful acting that overpowers you. It won’t be hard for you to like this man, despite his inherent diction flaws or the script’s faltering for that matter.
He isn’t the first unlike-hero like hero Bollywood has seen. The man, we call Shehenshah today was a lanky, looking tall man with a gorgeous voice. Amitabh Bachchan’s success story we are all so familiar with, is half reported one. Most miss out the segment of Big B’s life where he was rejected for a series of films for the apparent lack of acting talent in him. It was in Anand that he eventually got noticed. But there’s large span before he went on give hits like Silsila and Deewar where the man was faced with hard-hitting failures that drained him, which luckily reflected earnestly in Anand.
As Indians, we are naturally obsessed with good looks, inclined towards fair skin. I won’t be surprised that with none of these ingredients Dhanush can still see himself as a Bollywood superstar in the days to come. But Hindi cinema cringes to give ample backing to not very ‘obvious’ stars! Yet, talent never goes in vain.
In a minimal role in Tapan Sinha’s Ek Doctor Ki Maut, Irrfan Khan featured in one of his most prominent early roles. At that time, he could have easily been sidelined as another actor who wasn’t fit to be in mainstream Bollywood. And indeed he never settled for the mediocrity of the candyfloss. Excavating for himself more realistic and meaty roles, Khan is today recognized as the face of Bollywood in the International Market. Sharing space with Academy Award nominated Hollywood star Angelina Jolie in A Mighty Heart to featuring in the superhero film The Amazing Spiderman, Khan despite his overtly plain looks has emerged as a star. With critical acclaim and talent aiding him, there was no stopping for Irrfan Khan. And thank God for it, as it gave us wonderful films like Paan Singh Tomar and The Namesake.
Similar is the story of another emerging actor who won our hearts in Dibaker Banerjee’s film in Bombay Talkies. A mere mute scene can be so impactful, without words in unimaginable. Nawazuddin Siddique with his acting prowess became the omnibus film’s most attractive point.
Perhaps the audiences still cheer for the more good looking actors, the better built actors. But there is another emerging set of audiences who prefer content, substance and talent. For them, looks don’t matter. Yes, dimples are an obvious plus but they are never a necessity. All you Fair and Lovely users and breeders of similar attitudes, raise the standard of your thinking and look out for the star who has just arrived! Cheers to Dhanush.