With Kabir Singh being what it is — namely a vilified blockbuster — it is easy to forgive Shahid Kapoor’s torrent of transgressions such as Fida, Deewane Huey Pagal, Fida, Fool & Final, Kismat Connection… oh the roster of bilge is bulgy… But Shahid has also done memorable work. Here’s celebrating the ones that matter.
1. Vivah (2006)
Here was a film and a role that could’ve sunk horribly into the morass of self-righteousness. The hero Shahid and the heroine Amrita Rai had to speak to each other as though they were endorsing mineral water. No one in this godly film asked for pani. It was always jal. Shahid pulled off the astonishingly flat role of an ideal son, ideal brother, ideal brother-in-law, ideal suitor….yawn! He managed to make the sanctimonious look interesting. Slow clap.
2. Jab We Met (2007)
We all know this film belonged to Kareena Kapoor with or without the Khan. Yet how brilliantly Shahid’s quiet contemplative character countermanded the excessive exuberance of Kareena’s Geet. Shahid played a near-suicidal man who discovers there is life after a bludgeoning breakup. Every time Kareena took centre-stage, Shahid gave her the right cues. No performance attains a towering durability unless supported by the co-star. Kareena should be grateful.
3. Kaminey (2009)
Shahid’s only double role to date. Playing Charlie and Guddu in this overrated film, Shahid showed how a double role needs to be done. With spirit spunk and savoir-faire. There was no attempt to bring distinctiveness into the characters through physical traits. Sure, one of then two Shahids stammered. But even if he didn’t, we wouldn’t for a moment think it was the same actor doing both the roles. Never!
4. Haider (2014)
Though the finest performances in this strange adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet came from Tabu and the late (and underrated) Narendra Jha (and the worst was Shradha Kapoor hands-down), Shahid in the title role imbued his complex and complexed character of an Oedipal rebel with a commanding graph that took the protagonist into the darkest areas of the consciousness. Though Shahid overdid one of the film’s key monologues (perhaps we should blame the director for it) this still ranks as a remarkably transformative performance.
5. Udta Punjab (2016)
Shahid’s Tommy Singh in this remarkably rich study of moral dereliction was a stark brutal portrayal of an over-the-top rock star who can’t think beyond his libido and self-fulfilment. Though some of the character’s excesses were not fully executed by the actor this was still a performance worth noticing. Alia Bhatt, Kareena Kapoor and Diljit Dosanjh clearly had an edge. But Shahid edged in sideways.
6. Kabir Singh (2019)
After an utterly overshadowed performance in Padmaavat where he was woefully miscast and a vapid star-turn in Batti Gul Meter Chalu, Shahid is back. And how! Playing the reprehensible lout-lover and a doctor with more need to heal himself than his patients, he brings to the table a howl and a hoot and then some more. It is a fearless performance, not on par with what Vijay Deverakonda did in the original Arjun Reddy . But nonetheless a performance that shows a discernible growth in the actor’s ability to go beyond the range that he displayed in his earlier films.
Shahid now needs to move ahead . He has the range. And he is not scared of failing. But something invariably holds him back from going that extra mile. Now is the time to crossover from ‘ummm’ to ‘wow’.