How do you gauge an actor’s stardom? Earlier, it was judged by the crowds that would gather to catch a glimpse of a celebrity. The 21st century’s version of the same is getting millions of Instagram followers, which has now become a yardstick for measuring one’s success. But what do you say when a 7-year-old, who has no idea about movie stars and their stardom, runs across a gallery in a shopping mall in the national capital because there is a humungous poster of Tiger Shroff on display and he wants a photo with the guy. Watching this incident happen right in front of my eyes shortly after the release of Baaghi 2 was eye-opening because in that moment, it was crystal clear that this was a star in the making.
Tiger Shroff is one of those Bollywood personalities who generates quite a divisive opinion. His fans clearly love him, and the same is obvious from the count of his social media followers and the box office collections of his films, but there are many who aren’t fans of his acting. Like most of his contemporaries, and many of his seniors, Tiger isn’t a jack of all trades but unlike many of his peers, he is certainly a master at some – action and dancing.
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Tiger is one of the many upcoming Bollywood personalities who has been trying hard to make his mark in a world that rejects people on the basis of their looks, their appeal, their talent, or even their vibe, so to stay put and become even more popular with every passing film is no small feat. Tiger faced a lot of bullying in his early years in the film industry with many criticising his looks as they weren’t considered macho enough for a mainstream action hero. His father Jackie Shroff, who was an action star during the 1980s, said he was glad that Tiger did not look the way people expected him to. “Did people expect Tiger to be born with a beard because he is my son?” he told ETimes.
At one point, Tiger was told that he looked like a girl. In a chat with Arbaaz Khan on his YouTube show Pinch, Tiger said, “I know from the time my first film was released people said ‘ye ladka hai ya ladki’, people commented on my face and said I look like a girl.”
Tiger isn’t even 10 films old at this point but he has gone from being bashed for his one-note expressions to being loved by millions for his action. With one franchise under his belt, and another on its way, Tiger has established himself as the action hero that Bollywood has been craving for. In the same chat with Arbaaz, he had said, “I have decided to make my own space in Bollywood, I have chosen a separate path for myself. When you try and create something of your own, there are hurdles but I take it on.”
He may not be known for his histrionic skills but Tiger deserves all the applause he can get for pulling off the sickest action moves we have seen in the longest time. Tiger’s Instagram feed is filled with videos where you can see him training diligently. In a recent chat with Twinkle Khanna for her platform Tweak India, Jackie revealed that the 32-year-old gets up at the crack of dawn so he can train at the beach. His introduction scene in the Hrithik Roshan starrer War left the audience in awe, as it was clearly one of the most well-choreographed action sequences that we have seen in Bollywood in the last few years. The Baaghi franchise is completely built on his action avatar. The films might be drenched in tropes but the box office collections suggest that there is a large audience for them.
Tiger’s other asset is his dancing talent. Early on in his career, in fact with his first film itself, Tiger established himself as an accomplished dancer and has been polishing his skills ever since. In fact, Tiger’s journey in this regard is quite reminiscent of Katrina Kaif. She too was criticised for her accent, and her fluctuating performances in her early years, but with every song that she featured in, Katrina proved that she was here to stay. Her relentless hard work was visible on screen when Katrina stole the show in her songs, and the same is evident when Tiger appears on the silver screen.
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Tiger has had many ups and downs in his short career but with the kind of line-up that he has in the next couple of years, it is obvious that Tiger has already made a place in the industry. He has Ganapath, Bade Mayan Chhote Miyan, Heropanti 2 to look forward to. One could turn around and yell nepotism, and this must have certainly opened a lot of doors for him in the early stages of his career, but generating this kind of fan reaction out of a seven-year-old is the most honest kind of fandom any celebrity could hope for.