Decoding Ranbir Kapoor's Career: Despite several experimental films, how he became one of Bollywood's biggest stars

How Ranbir Kapoor has grown from strength to strength as a star despite doing several experimental films in his career. Let's have a look at his journey in Bollywood so far.

Updated on Apr 20, 2024  |  03:25 PM IST |  172.4K
Decoding Ranbir Kapoor's Career: How experiments didn't stop him from being big star
Pic Courtesy: IMDB, T Series YouTube, UTV Motion Pictures YouTube

Ranbir Kapoor once said that as an actor he wants to carve his own niche and doesn't intend to repeat what every Bollywood superstar has done. The beauty of these words is that he proved it successfully! Ranbir is a rare Bollywood star who has fearlessly experimented with different genres and has strengthened his position in the industry over the years. 

In an industry where picking risky projects can cost you heavily, Ranbir's script selection has set an example and has helped him win the hearts of different sections of the audience. Let's decode how RK has managed to be one of the biggest Bollywood stars despite not following the conventional path for a star.

From Saawariya to Barfi: The Rise of a Star

Despite a debut with the commercially unsuccessful 2007 film, Saawariya, Ranbir Kapoor managed to make a strong mark thanks to his charm and strong screen presence. A star was born even though his debut film was a flop. A year later, he came up with the romantic comedy Bachna Ae Haseeno which proved to be a commercial success and established him as the new chocolate boy of Bollywood. But he didn't want to stick to a tag so he decided to surprise everyone in 2009.



It was his 3rd year in the industry and he came up with 3 films and all of them were different from each other. Wake Up Sid which was his first release of 2009 had him playing the character of a lazy and carefree boy. Remember, it was the time when the audience wasn't used to seeing their hero with 'unheroic' character traits. But Ranbir trusted his gut, Sid's character arc, and director Ayan Mukerji's vision who also made his debut with the film. 15 years later, Sid is one of the most adored Bollywood characters.

Then he teamed up with Katrina Kaif for the romantic comedy Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani. This was the first time we saw him playing a happy-go-lucky guy who can do anything for the sake of his love. The character demanded an actor who could show different emotions perfectly, and Ranbir aced it. After proving his potential as a romantic hero, he showed his range in comedy as well. His chemistry with Katrina and the music were also two of the biggest selling points but his efforts to appeal to the masses were also noted. The film proved to be one of the biggest hits of his career. 

He concluded the year with Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year in which he played a Sikh salesman. The Shimit Amin directorial was not a regular commercial film but Ranbir accepted the challenge. Though it didn't prove to be a huge success, the film received acclaim from its audience and is still remembered as one of the best films of Ranbir.

But this was just the beginning of an actor par excellence's rise towards stardom!

In 2010 and 2011, he presented his skills as an intense actor in films like Rajneeti and Rockstar. Interestingly, Ranbir was yet to complete his 5 years in the industry but with characters like Samar Pratap of Rajneeti and Janardan Jakhar aka Jordan of Rockstar, people saw a seasoned actor in him. In between, he also did a romantic comedy Anjaana Anjaani to keep his young fans happy and the film had college students thronging to cinemas on its opening day.

Then came Barfi in 2012 in which Ranbir played a deaf and mute guy. Despite not being a commercial film, it crossed the Rs 100 crore mark at the box office which was a big achievement at that time. It was the 5th year of his career and he was already on top of his acting game and was also among the biggest crowd-pullers.


From Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani to Jagga Jasoos: The period of big successes and big failures

2013 was a huge year for Ranbir Kapoor. He was already one of the top Bollywood stars in the romantic comedy genre so when his Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani also starring Deepika Padukone in the lead released, it was bound to do well. But the film surpassed all expectations and with a business of more than Rs 175 crore, it proved to be by far the biggest grosser of his career. Besharam, an action comedy released in the same year opened big but proved to be a failure because the content didn't go well with the audience.

RK returned in 2015 with Roy and Bombay Velvet which again proved to be failed experiments. Tamasha which marked his reunion with Rockstar director Imtiaz Ali and Bachna Ae Haseeno-YJHD co-actress Deepika was expected to bring him back as a star but it didn't get the desired response at the box office either. However, Tamasha proved to be one of the cult films of Ranbir's career, and his character Ved resonated with a large section of the audience.

In 2016, he created a strong impression with Karan Johar's Ae Dil Hai Mushkil also starring Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Anushka Sharma. The actor gave one of the best performances of his career and followed it up with Jagga Jasoos in 2017. Directed by Anurag Basu, the film saw his reunion with Katrina Kaif after the 2010 film Rajneeti. Though it turned out to be a massive failure at the box office, the film received immense love from a section of the audience.

These 5 years of his career were like a rollercoaster ride for Ranbir. While he saw his career's biggest high with YJHD, failures like Besharam, Bombay Velvet, Roy, Tamasha and Jagga Jasoos made people question his stardom. However, with films like Tamasha and Jagga Jasoos, he created a special place in the hearts of a section of the class audience. The films may have not done well theatrically but helped him carve strong loyalty in this section of the audience. Meanwhile, nobody knew that the best phase of his career was yet to come!

From Sanju to Animal: The Best period of Ranbir Kapoor

In 2014, Ranbir Kapoor did a cameo in Rajkumar Hirani's PK and in 2018 he played the title role in his much-hyped Sanjay Dutt biopic titled Sanju. Unaffected by all the questions on his stardom, Ranbir gave one of his most memorable performances in the film. With a domestic business of Rs 334.58 crore, it proved to be his career's biggest grosser and also the top grosser of 2018. 


After a break of 4 years, Ranbir's Shamshera released in 2022. The huge success of Sanju didn't mean he would stop taking risks! However, this risk didn't pay off. The film proved to be a box office dud and one of the biggest mistakes of his career. But he came back strong with Brahmastra: Part One - Shiva.

Just when the industry was blaming it on post-lockdown phase for the failures of films, Brahmastra's huge success proved that a well-made film will always attract the audience to theaters. With a domestic business of Rs 250 crore, the film which had him alongisde Alia Bhatt, Amitabh Bachchan and Nagarjuna Akkineni emerged as the 2nd highest grosser of RK's career till then.

He started 2023 with a bang with Luv Ranjan's Tu Jhoothi Main Makkaar. When everybody had started thinking that the romantic comedy genre is dying, he revived it along with Shraddha Kapoor. The film proved to be a success with a domestic lifetime business of Rs 129.50 crore.

Amid all this, Ranbir, his fans, and the trade were waiting for his Animal to create a storm at the box office. Ranbir collaborated with Sandeep Reddy Vanga for the much-discussed action crime film. The hype around the film was such that everybody knew it would do massive business, but it proved to be a box office juggernaut surpassing all expectations. Upon release, Animal became one of the most appreciated films of Bollywood and did a historic business of Rs 500 crore approx again proving to be his career's highest grosser.

What's next?

With all this done so far, it looks like Ranbir is gearing up for the biggest leap of his career. The star is gearing up to play the role of Lord Rama in Nitesh Tiwari's Ramayana trilogy. The makers are leaving no stone unturned to make the film in a way it deserves to be made. The expectations from the project are massive and if it gets the treatment it deserves, then the sky is the limit. The first part of the film is expected to release on Diwali 2025.

He will also be seen in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's ambitious film Love & War along with Alia Bhatt and Vicky Kaushal. The Christmas 2025 release is easily among the most awaited films of Bollywood. Apart from that, a sequel to Animal titled Animal Park is scheduled and the next parts of the Brahmastra trilogy will also happen hopefully. All this comes together to promise an exciting time ahead for the audience and especially for the fans of Ranbir. Isn't it?



Overall, Ranbir Kapoor has been a star who hasn't shied away from taking risks in his career. If he has done films like Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani, Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani, Sanju, and Animal, he has also done Rockstar, Tamasha, and Jagga Jasoos. If experiments like Wake Up Sid and Barfi paid off, he made mistakes like Bombay Velvet, Shamshera, and Besharam too. But almost everything he did boosted his star power and helped him touch new skies as a star.


Now that's what an ideal star looks like. Isn't it?

ALSO READ: Ranbir Kapoor's Animal Park will be 'wilder', reveals Sandeep Reddy Vanga; here’s when sequel's shoot will begin

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About The Author

Gautam Batra loves to observe tiny details in cinema. He has a special place in his heart for films



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