It was in January 2000 that Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai, Hrithik Roshan's debut movie and one of the biggest hits of his career, released. The film established the son of actor-filmmaker Rakesh Roshan as a bona fide star. Greek god looks, fantastic dancer, passionate actor - he was a total package.
Hrithik became a phenomenon with his very first film. Although he struggled to recreate the box office frenzy of Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai and failed miserably multiple times, his fandom had full faith in him and their loyalty never wavered. He has taken long breaks in his career, come out with one film in three years, but the niche he carved for himself in Bollywood has always stayed his.
The adulation he has been showered with has been well-deserved, too, thanks to films like Koi... Mil Gaya, Krrish, Jodhaa Akbar and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. With 25 films in his 20 year-career, Hrithik hasn't been the busiest, but has definitely been one of the most loved actors.
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But was he a force to reckon with at the box office? Fans loved his dancing, but was he considered one of the most powerful actors in the country? I'm afraid not.
All that changed in the year 2019. Two decades after his movie debut, Hrithik displayed his capabilities as an actor and his box office draw as a star, all in the same year.
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With Super 30, the dramatized telling of the real-life heroism of math genius Anand Kumar, Hrithik stepped into uncharted territories. The sophisticated Arjun of ZNMD or the suave Jai of Bang Bang turned into a rustic man from Patna who sacrificed pleasures of life to help the underprivileged.
His casting was met with immense criticism, with many dismissing Hrithik as unfit for the role, given his urban image. The darkening of his skin tone did not sit well with many. But those that were able to see beyond those layers, saw him bare his soul as an actor, pouring his heart into portraying the struggles of Anand Kumar on screen.
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Super 30 didn’t please critics much, but Hrithik earned his share of praise. Rajeev Masand wrote in his review, “The film, not surprisingly, rests on the shoulders of its leading man, and Hrithik Roshan brings the earnestness he’s known for… Hrithik does the best he can with the part. It’s the scenes in which he’s meant to tug at your heartstrings that he pulls off most memorably.”
Anupama Chopra said, “It’s a testament to Hrithik’s earnestness, that despite the minuses, he manages to create moments that dazzle – watch him in the climactic scene when the exam results are announced. His expressions are so heartfelt that he almost convinces you to forget everything else.”
The film also had a rewarding run at the box office, earning Rs 147 crore in India.
Hrithik’s second release in 2019 saw him return to his Bollywood star avatar. War pitted two extremely goodlooking, fit and fabulous actors - Hrithik and Tiger Shroff – against each other. But there were no prizes for guessing who’d win.
It served more of what Hrithik loyalists have always loved to watch him do. The camera literally made love to him in every frame of War as Hrithik went about doing what he does best – dance like a dream, fight like a superhero and look drop-dead gorgeous in every shot. The film relied heavily on swag and sass of the two actors, especially Hrithik’s, and fans were definitely not complaining.
The action flick turned out to be a big money churner at the box office, collecting a whopping ₹53.35 crore on opening day. It became the highest opening day collection for Bollywood films. But that was just the beginning. With Rs 292 crore in its kitty, War made a spot for itself among the highest grossing Hindi films of all time.
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Hrithik entered the leagues of Aamir Khan and Salman Khan with the unprecedented box office success of War. He had his biggest hit after two decades in the industry.
The past year has been extremely rewarding for Hrithik, with two very different films re-establishing him as a talented performer as well as a legit Bollywood star. He reminded Hindi cinema lovers that while he still shines bright in a glamorous film, Hrithik can also strip off all the glitz to deliver purely as an actor in front of the camera. The year 2019 clearly belonged to him.
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