For two years, we have been hearing of the apparent demise of Kartik Aaryan’s career. His fallout with arguably the biggest production house of the country started those rumours and people’s free time in the lockdowns galvanised it. And yet, as he turns a year older on November 22, there is no actor in Hindi cinema today with a more diverse and promising lineup of films than Kartik (save perhaps, Shah Rukh Khan but you can’t seriously compare those two). Simply put, among the newer generation of lead actors, Kartik is perhaps best placed to entertain viewers and rule the roost at the box office over the next 12 months, and if all goes well, beyond. Also read: Kartik Aaryan gets birthday surprise from family, Kriti Sanon promises best gift
On his birthday, November 22, Kartik dropped the teaser/first look of his upcoming film Shehzada. That is special because it marks the first time he will appear in an out-and-out masala entertainer and that too, with loads of action. The teaser saw Kartik kick goons and ride bikes (a scooter in this case) much like the ‘heroes’ of the 90s. Many fans were shocked, some not pleasantly while others were excited. It’s a bold choice for the actor who has largely done simple comedies so far. However, it is a high reward move too. The film is based on the Telugu hit Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo, which earned ₹262 crore at the box office in 2020. If Shehzada replicates its success, it stands to be Kartik’s biggest hit yet.
But Shehzada isn’t even his most experimental film from his lineup. That honour goes to Freddy. The Shashanka Ghosh film is much smaller in scale than Shehzada and sees Kartik in his darkest, most challenging role yet, that of a murderous dentist. The film, set to release on Disney+ Hotstar next month, will certainly stretch Kartik’s acting abilities. It is so good to see the actor challenging himself regularly (first Dhamaka and now this). He may fail as we are yet to see Kartik in a truly great performance. For me Dhamaka wasn’t a great performance even though it was a good effort. But him choosing Freddy still deserves praise in a time when Kartik’s contemporaries are happy to play within their comfort zones.
And when the dust from Freddy and Shehzada settles, Kartik will return to business as usual with his most Kartik Aaryan upcoming release, a romantic comedy titled Satyaprem Ki Katha. Everything about the film, from the title to the look and feel, screams Kartik. It is more of a familiar territory for the actor, who has excelled in films like Luka Chuppi and Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety earlier.
So, we have a dark thriller where he plays a sociopath, an action entertainer with 90s vibes, and a romantic comedy set in a small town. That is as diverse as one can get. These films are primed to not just target various genres and audiences, but also look for greater penetration at the box office (at least the latter two given Freddy is an OTT release).
At 32, Kartik Aaryan is at a crossroads in his career. He has been around for over a decade so can be deemed as an established actor. But he is also young enough to experiment and reinvent as per the audience’s changed tastes. His three upcoming films are proof that he is attempting just that. How this plays out will be apparent over the next year or so. But just by attempting this, Kartik has put himself in a better position than many of his contemporaries.