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Hrithik’s High Noon
Hrithik Roshan: Rs 10 crore per film

Who shone the brightest in Bollywood this year' Who fired the biggest hits, bagged the maximum adulation and stormed and danced his way to the top of the heap in tinseltown' While giants like Shah Rukh Khan and Amitabh Bachchan remained locked in a bitter struggle for supremacy, the one who charged ahead of the pack was none other than Hrithik Roshan — our Bollywood Person of the Year.

Diehard fans of Shah Rukh and those who swear by the likes of Aamir Rang de Basanti Khan or the stubble-cheeked, hair-banded Abhishek Bachchan, will be disappointed. But any which way you look, Hrithik Roshan stood out as the actor who made the biggest impact in Bollywood this year.

His film Krrish was far and away the biggest hit in 2006. Another Hrithik Roshan starrer, Dhoom 2, is also set to become one of the highest grossers of this year. The critics didn’t have too many good things to say about these films. But Hrithik the super hero (Krrish) and Hrithik the arch villain (Dhoom 2) caught the imagination of the audience. They kept coming back for more — even as you read this, the Dhoom 2 cash registers are ringing. The result: both the films Hrithik starred in have powered their way to the top of the Bollywood league table. What is also significant here is that the two films starring King Khan this year, Don and Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna (KANK), disappointed at the box office (although the overseas take of KANK was quite outstanding).

Shah Rukh Khan:Rs 7-8 crore

Again, though Hrithik plays a negative role in Dhoom 2, he outshines the hero (Abhishek Bachchan) completely. The recent GIFA awards in Malaysia saw him win the award for best actor for his role in Krrish. In fact, industry sources and critics believe that Hrithik will sweep all the awards ceremonies and walk off with the prize for best actor and best actor in a negative role for Krrish and Dhoom 2 respectively.

If he is bringing home the bacon for the film maker and the producer, Hrithik Roshan is also on his way to becoming the highest paid actor in Bollywood. Recently, he signed a three-film contract with Adlabs for around Rs 30 crore. In other words, Hrithik’s per film fee is now Rs 10 crore. That’s a staggering figure and it’s more than what other Bollywood biggies are making at the moment. For example, both Shah Rukh and Aamir Khan charge about Rs 7-8 crore per film, while Akshay Kumar charges about Rs 5-7 crore. The first film under the Adlabs contract will roll out in 2008 after Hrithik completes his films with Ashutosh Gowariker (Jodha Akbar), Zoya Akhtar (Kismat Talkies) and Rakesh Roshan (Krrish sequel).

Aamir Khan: Rs 7-8 crore

Hrithik, though, appears to be quite calm about all that’s happening in his life and about the fact that 2006 has been such an exceptionally bountiful year for him. “I have been through this success and adulation before. When someone is successful there are many who keep talking about it and try and flatter you. But there will be many more to pull you down if a film fails. So I just go on trying to better my performance. Krrish and Dhoom 2 have been received well. I am on a roll and thus the adulation. I am not overawed by it at all,” he says in a matter-of-fact manner.

But Hrithik knows that he really has arrived at last. After the runaway success of his debut film Kaho Naa Pyar Hai (2000), he delivered a string of flops like Mujhse Dosti Karoge, Aap Mujhe Achhe Lagne Lage, Na Tum Jaano Na Hum, etc. He looked in danger of becoming another Kumar Gaurav, a one-film wonder who shone briefly, sputtered, and then died out. But in 2003, dad Rakesh Roshan came out with Koi Mil Gaya, a sort of Forrest Gump meets ET, and Hrithik, who played the lead role of a simple-minded young man, has not looked back since.

Akshay Kumar:Rs 5-7 crore

So is Hrithik really on his way to becoming Bollywood’s hero No 1, leaving behind, dare we say it, such mega stars as Shah Rukh Khan' Karan Johar, who has worked with both Shah Rukh Khan as well as Hrithik Roshan, directing them together in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, would not like to go quite so fast. “There’s a 10-year age difference between them. Shah Rukh is a much more senior actor. Hrithik is more of a student compared to Shah Rukh. But he learns fast and is building up his own style of performance, while Shah Rukh already has his own method. I think Hrithik is absorbing a lot and doing very well too,” says Johar.

Priyanka Chopra, who has acted with both Shah Rukh Khan and Hrithik Roshan in Krrish and Don respectively, also points to the difference between the two, although she naturally won’t say a word on who’s the better actor. “Hrithik Roshan is a very dedicated actor. Shah Rukh Khan will keep teaching you something,” she says.

While Chopra maintains a diplomatic stance vis a vis Hrithik and Shah Rukh, Sanjay Gadhvi, the director of the Dhoom series says that it is Hrithik Roshan’s ability to work hard that puts him way ahead of the rest. “Many people told me that Hrithik overshadowed Abhishek in the film and that it wasn’t right,” says Gadhvi. “But the villain is supposed to be bigger and smarter than everyone else in this film. And Hrithik outstripped everyone with his performance.”

Amitabh Bachchan:Rs 3 crore

Indeed, if there is one thing that characterises Hrithik Roshan the actor, it is the hard work that he puts into portraying his character. Says father Rakesh Roshan, “He takes his work very, very seriously. He sits and works on the details of his looks, his style, his clothing and the script and, of course, the nuances of his performance. His success this year is just the fruit of his efforts.”

His colleagues too endorse that view. Ask stunt director Vic Armstrong who worked with Hrithik Roshan in Dhoom 2 and came away impressed with the actor’s dedication. “I have worked with the best in the world. And I would put him on a par with Hollywood stars like Tom Cruise and Harrison Ford. He fears nothing and is ready to take on any challenge,” says Armstrong.

When he was shooting one of the stunt scenes in Krrish, Hrithik suffered a near fatal fall. But he was ready for the next shot in no time at all. It is this ability to keep going no matter what that has brought Hrithik Roshan to the top.

Will he stay there' Watch this space in 2007.

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