It's pretty funny how my favourite young man in Bollywood, Shahid Kapoor, at 29, is not even part of the new generation anymore. With over a dozen films, he sure seems like a veteran by now. So I guess I can't squeeze him on this list as much as I would love to. But that's ok, as they say, plenty more where that came from! Let's see...
FARHAN AKHTARTechnically not a newcomer since the boy has been making movies since the turn of the century (I love how big that sounds, even though it's only 10 years!), and definitely not a boy since he's actually 36 (and a Capricorn - big yay for all the Capricorns in the film industry! Another one coming up in this list, there's just something about them...). But since his proper acting debut wasn't until 2 years ago, I consider him very much a newcomer. And since he's only done 3 movies, I have no problem picking my favourite one: Luck By Chance! One of the best Bollywood movies of all times, one that I will never get tired of recommending!
So what's there to love about Farhan? For one he has a killer asymmetrical smile that crumples up his whole face in the most adorable way, then he has that raspy voice that is to die for, he is incredibly funny in his talk-show "Oye, It's Friday!", he's subtle and brilliant in his acting, and the cherry on the cake: he wrote and directed Dil Chahta Hai, the movie that brought Bollywood romance into the 21st century, when he was only 26! Talented you say? I say: proof that there is no justice in the universe!
Also, the fact that he is now shooting for Zoya Akhtar's next movie, Zindagi Milegi Na Dobara, with the next yummy Bolly boy on my list increases his appeal exponentially. (As does the fact that he's grown his hair longer again.)
ABHAY DEOLI confess I still have difficulty pronouncing his name right, even after extensive research down to the Devanagari script of his name (which no one seems to pronounce the way it's written), so hopefully I'll never run into him on the streets of Toronto and have to shout after him to get another look at his larger than life dimples. Oh who am I kidding, the day I saw him from relatively up close at the Toronto Film Festival in 2009 my hands were shaking so badly that I didn't even manage to get a good picture of him until he turned around. I got this boring guy instead, and a good shot of Abhay's shoulder and cheek... What an epic fail!
But all that drama aside, like all the other newcomers it seems, Abhay took his sweet time to grow on me, but grow he did. In fact he grew on me so much that I was even digging his mustache in Manorama Six Feet Under. And yes, that was before I got into South Indian movies and started seeing the light about mustaches altogether.
Abhay is what we would call the anti-hero of his generation. He doesn't do the song and dance routine (though sadly that seems to have become the norm, instead of the exception), he doesn't do loverboy roles (except for Ahista Ahista and Socha Na Tha, his first two movies), he hates to promote his movies, and get this one: he's smart! Whoa!
His choice of movies has always been on the eclectic side, and despite having seen them all, I have trouble naming a favourite. Maybe Road, Movie? Maybe Dev D., his brilliant take on the done-to-death (and horribly done at least in this century) Devdas? The dark drama Manorama Six Feet Under? But then he's so adorable in Socha Na Tha! See, I just can't decide! Maybe Road Movie after all...
Abhay for me is for the new generation what Aamir Khan is for the old one: the pathbreaker, the thinker and the only one whose movies I will reserve the entire opening weekend for, because no matter what movie it is, there is no doubt in my mind it will be brilliant enough for me to want to see it at least twice in the theatre. A random guy I met at the Film Festival last year said it best: "Abhay Deol is the only actor whose movies I have no problem showing to a Westerner, even to a Bollywood-hater-by-default, because I know I can't go wrong with them."
RANBIR KAPOORAhhh... Ranbir... This one took the longest to dig the tunnel to my heart, but now that he's there, there's no removing him. What took me so long? I'm not going to lie, it was his looks. He just didn't appeal to me. And I am convinced the only reason I find him appealing now, 6 movies later, is because he's become like an old friend. My opinion of people's looks always reflects what I think of them: the people I dislike look ugly to me, while my friends all seem damn good looking. It's perhaps my way of solving the cognitive dissonance created by liking someone as a person and disliking their looks (call me shallow, it's ok, I know it). Ranbir just fit into that pattern: it got to the point where he felt so familiar in his movies, like I should know what he's going to do next (and I mean that as a compliment), that my brain just confused him for a friend, and ta-dah... made him good looking! Go figure...
Looks aside, clearly there must be something to him if I was watching all his movies even when I was comparing his charm to that of a vacuum cleaner. Well there's no denying he's a wonderful actor, but there are some things he positively excels in. He's energetic, he's full of life and most importantly he feels real. On top of that no one does confused better than Ranbir, no one does bemused better than Ranbir, no one does hurt puppy better than Ranbir and definitely no one in the new generation dances better than Ranbir. Give me ten movies in a row with him playing a good for nothing, a la Wake Up Sid! and I will not even require popcorn to watch them all!
And because this one is better seen in action than in pictures:
IMRAN KHANIf I hadn't written this list in alphabetical order by last name, Imran would have probably been first, because right now, I am crushing on him a little too much for decency. Not enough to make me forget his lack of dancing skills (I have definitely been spoiled by Allu Arjun's mad energy and talent), but enough to make me forget that I was not going to buy any more new movies at least until next month. Kidnap had better be worth it, or rather, I know it's not worth it, but Imran had better make it worth it!
Somehow after seeing this:
As the huge Aamir Khan fan that I am, I was so happy to discover just how much of uncle Aamir's features Imran has inherited (physically but also acting-wise). Which makes me think that maybe Bollywood did get it right: maybe acting talent IS genetically ingrained. When he can sell me a bad movie like I Hate Luv Storys (sic), I simply must bow to his charm and screen presence.
I do have a soft spot for actors with good facial expressions, the ones that no frame is wasted on because their face is never idle (Shahid is the other one at the top of this list for me), so I suspect that's what won me over about Imran. He seems so spontaneous in his acting, and he puts the fun back into watching Bollywood. Not fun the opposite of boring, but fun the opposite of serious. All that on top of the fact that he is ridiculously good looking and he has the perfect body (ok, maybe he shares that title with Ranbir). What more can a girl ask for? Did I mention he's also a Capricorn?
My favourite thing about this new generation is that I get to love them all! Unlike the Era of the Khans where fans were polarized (myself included: out of the three, I can't stand two of them), this new generation is the Love Generation, where no rivalries have shown their ugly faces yet, and comparisons are useless because these guys are so different in their range that they CAN each have their own place without outshining one another.