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Vicky Kaushal and the challenge of the next hit film

Can actor Vicky Kaushal replicate his breakthrough success from Masaan?

Sonal Pandya

For many actors, the big break is an elusive thing. One can be plugging away at your craft for years without being noticed. For others, stardom is achieved overnight. But what happens after you've just had your first hit? Your follow up film has to be just as important.

Before landing the lead role in Neeraj Ghaywan's Masaan (2015), Vicky Kaushal acted in small roles in Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana (2012) and Bombay Velvet (2015). His honest, unaffected performance in Masaan didn't go unnoticed by critics and viewers. Lauded at Cannes Film Festival and nominated for the male debut awards at awards shows, Kaushal had arrived with his third film.

His next after Masaan was Zubaan (2016), directed by Mozez Singh and co-starring Sarah Jane Dias. Kaushal plays Dilsher, a young man with a talent for music and who aims to become someone in life. For his part, Kaushal also had to learn how to incorporate a stutter into his speech.

The film opened the Busan International Film Festival last October and the director Mozez Singh picked up the 'Rising Director' award. However, Zubaan had a much more lukewarm opening back in India. Critics called his performance 'endearing' and 'powerful' but felt the story tried to pack in too much.

Like Vicky Kaushal, Nimrat Kaur burst onto the scene with the worldwide hit, The Lunchbox (2013). She'd previously appeared in short films and incidentally also had a small part in Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana. Her next project after The Lunchbox was a role as ISI agent, Tasneem Qureshi on Showtime's Homeland opposite Claire Danes and Mandy Patinkin. It took Nimrat Kaur another three years to come back to Hindi cinema with Airlift (2016), the real-life saga of Indians who were evacuated from Kuwait in 1990.

Alia Bhatt got a launch of a lifetime with Karan Johar's Student of the Year (2012). But she was largely overshadowed by her two male leads, Varun Dhawan and Sidharth Malhotra. It wasn't until Imtiaz Ali's Highway (2014) that audiences began to take notice of Alia as an actor. Her turn as a kidnap victim who gets the courage to face past trauma marked a remarkable change in her career and in her later films after Highway, she has easily overshadowed her male co-stars.

Yes, the second hit can be elusive but Vicky Kaushal has some interesting projects lined up for 2016. He reunites with his Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana director, Sameer Sharma, for Manmarziyan (2016), a love story with co-stars Ayushmann Khurrana and Bhumi Pednekar and Raman Raghav 2.0 for Anurag Kashyap, whom he assisted on Gangs of Wasseypur (2012).