Despite living under the huge shadow of his father Amitabh Bachchan’s legacy and a rollercoaster journey of ups and downs, Abhishek Bachchan has given an effective display of his acting chops in his near-two-decade journey in the film industry. As the actor turns 43 on Tuesday, here’s looking at the five best performances of Abhishek that prove he is much more than just a star kid:
Abhishek had featured in about 15 films by then, but was yet to get off the mark on the success scoreboard. Veteran filmmaker Mani Ratnam signed him for the role of the antagonist Lallan and that changed his career completely. The actor’s portrayal of feelings from love for his wife, played by Rani Mukerji, to his ‘angry young man’ avatar towards her and the other characters, AB Jr was lauded unanimously for his role. The movie fetched him his first Filmfare Award for Supporting Actor out of three. Despite the fact that he wasn’t the lead actor and that the movie did not do as well as expected, ‘Yuva’ remains the biggest turning point in his career.
If ‘Yuva’ was the turning point, 2004 turned out to be a ‘turning year’ for him. The year brought him critical acclaim, but commercial success still eluded him. It’s often said Abhishek gave 17 flops before his first hit, that first hit was Sanjay Gadhvi’s ‘Dhoom.’ The actor nailed the Don’t-Mess-With-Me Cop Jai Dixit with such finesse that you felt assured he’d catch hold of the stylish thief, played by John Abraham. Romance with wife, played by Rimi Sen, fine comic timing with Uday Chopra showing that same straight face, whistle-worthy one-liners, action on the bike and with the gun in his hand, were among the highlights of his performance.
After defying the thief in ‘Dhoom’, it was his own turn to play a con man, Bunty, with Babli, played by Rani, characters you love despite or for their crooked antics. Again, Ab Jr aced his comic timing and was so good in creating a romantic chemistry with Rani that link-up rumours were at its peak between the two. The Shaad Ali directorial turned out to be his first commercial success as a solo lead, and it was one of the pillars of the most successful phase of his career.
Most people would agree that Abhishek’s two best works are ‘Yuva’ and ‘Guru’, and there’s one common factor between the two, Mani Ratnam. It’s rare that you root for a character with grey shades, but Abhishek made you feel that with his performance as Gurukant Desai, allegedly modelled on late industrialist Dhirubhai Ambani. From the outset, the character had a lot of scope for performance due to journey spanning from young to old and rags to riches, but Abhishek lived up to it brilliantly. That scene in the courtroom when a semi-paralysed Gurukant Desai defends himself in front of the judges is arguably his best-performed scene. Not to mention, he fell in love with and proposed to wife Aishwarya Rai Bachchan on the sets of this movie.
The reason why the difference between ‘Guru’ and ‘Manmarziyaan’ in this list is 11 years, is the same as why Abhishek decided to take a two-year sabbatical after ‘Housefull 3’. The actor was a part of some of the most successful films in this period, a few which even set records, but none of his performances could match up to acts in the earlier part of his career. The introspection helped as he chose ‘Manmarziyaan’ despite it being directed by Anurag Kashyap, who he was said to be at loggerheads for long. Forget differences, the duo bonded big time during the making and gave us the lovable character Robbie, an introvert whose wife loves someone else. Though Taapsee Pannu was unanimously lauded and many said she walked away with the film, there was a section of audiences that felt AB Jr was the real star of the movie. The actor’ nuanced and subtle portrayal won him praises galore. It’s a different matter that the movie didn’t do wonders at the box office.
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