Bollywood film star Hrithik Roshan who wowed audiences with a dramatic debut as a lead actor in the 2000 hit film ‘Kaho Naa...Pyaar Hai’ was born on January 10, 1974 in Mumbai to actor-director Rakesh Roshan and Pinky. As a child Hrithik appeared in tiny shots in films made by director-producer J. Om Prakash, his maternal grandfather. His most substantial role as a child actor was in the 1986 film ‘Dada’.
After completing his school education he secured a bachelor’s degree in commerce from Sydenham College. Hrithik informally assisted his father for several years in the 1990s to get a sense of the fundamentals of filmmaking.
He stormed into stardom in his debut in a leading role in ‘Kaho Naa...Pyaar Hai’, directed by Rakesh Roshan and also starring Amisha Patel in her first appearance. The film which has Hrithik in a double role proved to be the perfect launch pad for him, winning the good-looking actor several awards and a huge fan following.
Outlook magazine in its February 2000 issue noted the birth of a new star: “Weeks after Kaho’s release, the advance-booking queues still snake sinuously long outside theatres; black rates stand still at Rs 500 a ticket; trade reports continue to gush (the first week drew 99.87 per cent returns from ticket sales, the second kept up the tempo at 99.69 per cent and even the third didn’t slacken at 99.18 per cent in Mumbai-at par with a hit like Kuch Kuch Hota Hai); two lakh Hrithik photographs have been distributed outside cinema halls among delirious teenagers.”
His next release was ‘Fiza’, where he played the role of a Muslim boy who gets involved with a terrorist group. Directed by Khalid Mohammed, it didn’t do well at the box office but Hrithik’s performance was appreciated. In his review of Fiza, Prem Panicker wrote in rediff.com: “Since ‘Kaho Naa...Pyaar Hai’ swept adolescents and adults alike away on a tidal wave of Hrithik-hysteria, there has been no release for Bollywood’s hottest property. His legion of fans, famished by the long break, get a full meal here. While his dancing abilities are not really showcased, the bulging biceps get extended airtime. And what is more, this film gives him a lot more scope for histrionics. Hrithik obliges, with a highly competent, confident performance.”
Another release in 2000 starring Hrithik was the Vidhu Vinod Chopra-directed ‘Mission Kashmir’ that also saw Sanjay Dutt, Jackie Shroff and Preity Zinta in major roles.
According to the Hindu review “Hrithik Roshan’s is a role more along the lines of ‘Fiza’ but he seems more convincing here as the misguided terrorist than in ‘Fiza’.”
The next two years were mixed for Hrithik, with films like the multi-starrer ‘Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham’ doing well commercially, but others such as ‘Aap Mujhe Achche Lagne Lage’ and ‘Mujhse Dosti Karoge!’ not creating any waves.
But in 2003 he starred in the biggest hit of the year, Koi...Mil Gaya, a science fiction film directed by his father in which Hrithik played the role of a differently-abled youngster who makes friends with an alien. His portrayal in the 2004 film ‘Lakshya’ of an army officer in the Kargil War got a good response.
Hrithik’s next two films — the family production ‘Krrish’, a sequel to ‘Koi... MilGaya’; and ‘Dhoom 2’, in which he starred opposite Aishwarya Rai for the first time — were hits.
In his unfavourable review of ‘Krrish’, the film critic Rajeev Masand wrote: “Hrithik immerses himself completely in his role and it’s only his sincerity that diverts your attention from the film's many flaws.”
Hrithik’s successful projects after ‘Krrish’ included ‘Jodhaa Akbar’, directed by Ashutosh Gowariker; and Agneepath, a remake of the 1990 film by the same name.
Critics responded differently to Hrithik’s portrayal of the Mughal emperor Akbar. The New York Times’ Rachel Saltz wrote: “[Hrithik] has the bearing of a king, yet can seem a little blank when not in motion, fighting enemies or stripped to the waist taming wild elephants…” On the other hand, for Masand not only “does [Hrithik] transform physically to become the part [of Akbar], he gets under the emotional skin of the character and makes it his own”.
Hrithik’s 2013 film ‘Krrish 3’, the next in the superhero series, was a hit. In an interview to Screen magazine, he said: “To play a superhero role, an actor has to be a superhero fan. I am a fan of all of them and fairly inspired by the fact that all superheroes are about their super weaknesses. And so you need an actor who has been able to accept his weakness[es] and overpower and overcome them to identify with that character because you can’t really fake it.”
In an interview to Filmfare around the time ‘Krrish 3’ released, Hrithik when asked to describe himself said: “I’m a man of truth. I believe in spreading love, I believe in looking at life beyond the material. I believe in people and that we are a part of the whole…I believe my mission is to live by the values like a superhero does. To discover my true potential, my true strength, I have to go through challenges.”
Also on this day:
1886 — John Mathai, union finance minister, was born
1930 — Basu Chatterjee, Indian film director, was born