Report Card, 2012: How Salman, SRK, Ranbir performed
Let's get this straight, this is not about reviews. Or about how good these particular actors are as, well, actors.
This is a rating based on the 10 most bankable men in the country and how bankable they've remained after 2012.
This is about box office, yes, but also about public perception and image.
Here, then, are the men making the mega-budgets possible:
He set the nation's collective tongue-wagging with his Public Service show Satyameva Jayate, and -- while most of us had tuned out by the final episode and there were jeers about his constant on-camera crying -- he had, yet again, distanced himself from his less-substantial seeming peers.
His one release of the year, Talaash, might have been a damp squib by Aamir standards, but garnered him great reviews as an actor anyway.
Image: Aamir Khan in Talaash
Devgn had a mixed year in 2012, despite finding massive commercial success with films like Bol Bachchan and Son Of Sardaar -- heck, in the former he even took the usually unmarketable Abhishek Bachchan to blockbuster territory.
Son Of Sardaar didn't perform as well as expected, however.
Plus Devgn had a lousy outing in Priyadarshan's Tezz, and battered his own public image by waging war on Yash Raj Films just after Yash Chopra had passed away.
But he gets points for voicing Makkhi in the Hindi dub.
Image: Ajay Devgn in Son of Sardaar
Kumar's filmography, stuck in a downward spiral over the years, saw perhaps its nadir with Joker this year, but the asinine Housefull 2 made money, as did Kumar's return to action, Rowdy Rathore, which became a smash hit.
Not much came of Kumar's collaboration with Himesh Reshammiya, Khiladi 786, but the actor proved himself an impressive producer with OMG: Oh My God, the sleeper hit of the year that earned repeat value with audiences. And his turn as Lord Krishna went down great as well.
Image: Akshay Kumar in Rowdy Rathore
Hashmi's usual smooch-and-shoot antics worked for films like Jannat 2 and Raaz 3D, the latter being India's first successful 3D film (despite being savaged by critics.) Rush didn't work as well, but Hashmi, for the first time in his career, earned critical encomiums with Shanghai, a hard-hitting film that saw him well outside his expected zone.
It was an impressive performance, and his next two projects -- Ghanchakkar and Ek Thi Daayan -- seem to indicate he's interested in meatier roles now.
Image: Bipasha Basu and Emraan Hashmi in Raaz 3
It takes a lot for an actor to step into Amitabh Bachchan's shoes, and Hrithik scored the year's first blockbuster with Agneepath.
But the one-film-a-year philosophy somehow doesn't seem to work for Hrithik as much, and when he's out of sight, he's plain off the radar.
And while Agneepath may have worked -- in no small measure thanks to Chikni Chameli -- Roshan's own performance was dangerously over the top.
Image: Hrithik Roshan in Agneepath
He is, for lack of a better male comparison, Bollywood's Katherine Heigl. But judging from the promos of his next film, Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola, he does show the willingness to break free.
Image: Kareena Kapoor and Imran Khan in Ek Main Aur Ek Tuu
Currently the most thrilling actor to watch, Ranbir also does just about one film a year, but seems now to be picking projects that showcase him at his best.
Last year's Rockstar wasn't a commercial triumph unlike this year's Barfi!, but both films saw him earn raves for his histrionic range.
Ranbir's here for the long run, and it is thanks to him that a film like Barfi! worked the way it did.
There's much to be said for a truly brave actor, and in him our faith must rest.
Image: Ranbir Kapoor in Barfi
Saif Ali Khan
It's more than we can say for his films, the long-awaited Agent Vinod finally hitting screens and proving a big-budget fizzle, and Cocktail working, but only for Deepika Padukone, while Saif himself was unanimously decried as an old man trying to play young.
The only points he has, really, is in the way he kept the wedding dignified and relatively hidden from the public eye.
Image: Deepika Padukone, Diana Penty and Saif Ali Khan in Cocktail
There is only one Salman.
They said he couldn't act beyond his moronic ways; he hit back with an Ek Tha Tiger. They said the second Dabangg couldn't work as well as the first; he hit 'em right where it hurts, in the box-office collections.
Khan's remarkable purple patch continues, and as far as audiences are concerned, he can do no wrong. Heck, he's even drawing crowds onto the increasingly unwatchable Bigg Boss.
The record-breaking run continues, and while we all think this is just a matter of time, well, the clock's been ticking for quite a bit already.
Image: Salman Khan in Dabangg 2
Shah Rukh Khan
Earlier this year, SRK lost it, yelling at guards, fuming at IPL games, being even more obnoxious than his ego allows. But then his team won, and he calmed down.
He read out excerpts from his memoir, due out next year. He spoke cleverly and candidly with Yash Chopra, making for the definitive interview. And we remembered that this guy was smart -- and seemed to have forgotten it for a while.
Khan only had the one release this year, but because of filmmaker Yash Chopra's death before the release of his last film, Jab Tak Hai Jaan automatically became the most anticipated film of the year.
Its box office success was a given, sure, but Khan too performed valiantly enough, showing that he can still romance young women effectively enough.
He needs a few more rounds of applause before he can start roaring again, though.
Image: Shah Rukh Khan in Jab Tak Hai Jaan