Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai’s Raj Chopra arrived at a time when Bollywood was all about Khans. He not only disrupted the Khan domination (Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan and Aamir Khan), but also gave birth to an overnight star – Hrithik Roshan.
So what was it about Raj that struck a chord with a generation of cinephiles?
Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai (2000) was touted as the launchpad of a star son. It, however, did much more for Bollywood. KNPH was probably the only film that made a newcomer a super sensation even before the film released. That’s because its trailers were smartly cut, highlighting everything good about the debutant. His persona, dancing prowess and action avatar were sleekly packaged as the film’s (and Hrithik’s) USP.
Here came a character who was nothing we had seen the Khans play before. Despite being a filthy rich brat, he loved his parents and believed in love, something only Shah Rukh Khan did back then. He had those six packs and the action moves too, à la Salman Khan. And he emoted almost like Aamir Khan. In all, Raj aka Hrithik was the perfect amalgamation of everything required for box office success.
Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai released a week before SRK’s Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani. By the time the latter arrived, “Hrithik mania” had engulfed the nation. Even Aamir’s Mela which opened earlier that month couldn’t hold its ground.
Though Hrithik Roshan played a double role (Raj and Rohit), his best was saved for Raj who arrives post interval. He goes from being a self-centred guy to a love-stricken guy who literally travels continents to win his girl. Raj’s personality and presence found favour with the audience. The mystery around him, whether he is actually Rohit in disguise or another man in a foreign land, kept us engaged.
Raj also had an X-factor – he could dance like a dream. His fluid movements on “Ek Pal Ka Jeena” left the audience awe-struck.
Raj’s defining moment came when he actually realises that it is his face that is attracting trouble for both him and Sonia (Ameesha Patel). After being chased by the police and goons, Raj speaks those memorable lines looking into the mirror pointing at his own face – “Woh iss chehre ko pehechante hain!” (They recognise this face). This was not just a moment of truth for our lead pair but also for the audience that a lot of action was set to unfold.
Director Rakesh Roshan had put in a lot of thought to weave Raj Chopra who was the stark opposite of Rohit. And well, it worked! Raj became a national sensation in no time.