When the trailer of Super 30 was released, I was quite skeptical about Hrithik Roshan playing the role of Anand Kumar. His brownface makeup and uneven Bihari accent had created further doubts. I was also not sure if the conventionally good-looking star with an overbearing screen presence could blend into the environment of small town Bihar and pass off as a common man convincingly, just with the aid of the makeup.
After all, he is best known for films like Krissh, Kaho Na Pyaar Hai, Agneepath, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and Kaabil where his physicality, looks, action skills, dancing or conventional heroism were the driving force.
Hrithik has excelled at superhero and action parts, and at playing the quintessential hero throughout his career, thanks to his natural charm. He was never a bad actor, but just someone who often stumbled when it came to understated sensitive performances. He did show traces of evolution in his last film Kaabil though, where he really held back during some crucial emotional scenes.
But I must say Hrithik’s act as a Maths genius and teacher from an under-privileged background in Super 30 turned out to be quite refreshing and surprising for me.
But this time around, Hrithik curbs his tendency to go overboard with the acting, and comes across as a lot more natural. He has worked hard on his body language. But he doesn’t let that be overtly visible in his performance.
The one consistent criticism against Hrithik through the years has been that his hard work as an actor behind the scenes always seemed to show on screen. And that was another danger when it came to a film like Super 30, where he needed to transform into a different person all together. He has often slipped into Rohit mode (Koi Mil Gaya) in terms of showing the innocence and vulnerability of the character he was playing (read: Mohenjodaro and Guzaarish). And often gone OTT in dramatic ones. I remember feeling that on many occasions while watching Agneepath.
But this time around, Hrithik curbs his tendency to go overboard with the acting, and comes across as a lot more natural. He has worked hard on his body language - he dances like a non-dancer, stands and sits like an awkward man and there is nothing physically striking about his personality. But he doesn’t let that be overtly visible in his performance.
He blended in with his surroundings and held is own in his scenes with Pankaj Tripathi, who was as always brilliant in the film.
In one scene, where he encourages his students to take a leap of faith, I sensed he was slipping back into his comfort zone, but through the rest of the film he held back well and tried to do something different with the way he projects himself on screen.
Despite the inconsistent Bihari accent, Hrithik manages to put forth an earnest and touching performance. And does not let the slip in writing in certain portions affect his acting.
It was the scene where he breaks down with joy after receiving a letter of admission to the Cambridge University that convinced me that Hrithik really was trying to evolve as an actor. And the repeat act in the last scene then really felt like a good stride towards the evolution.
Hope is that his behind-the-scenes hard work on his character continues to stay behind the scenes, as he moves forward, and we get to see this side of the actor more often in the future.
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