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-Anoushka Manidhar

They say if you want to make it big on the big screen you either got to be a star kid or just plain and simple lucky.

Bollywood, the industry that sells purely on the brand of an actor’s stardom is a rather ruthless . Yes, they’re mutually exclusive, but extremely necessary to survive in Bollywood. If you’re an actor, you don’t need any stardom. And if you’re a star, it doesn’t really matter if you can act.

There’s a horde of actors who play supporting roles to the protagonists, give the film a new lease of credibility and yet they go unnoticed. The stars walk away with the massive paycheck, and these actors slowly become ‘has-beens’. There are some actors who turn superstars overnight with a movie. Then there are some who remain megastars despite delivering horrendous flicks. But perhaps the lot, to whom our heart really goes out to, are the underrated actors who wow us with their performances but never seem to get their due. They make the most out of every role they get but just don’t seem to get the limelight they truly deserve.

Oscar Wilde once famously said: “The public is wonderfully tolerant. It forgives everything except genius.” A film industry that churns out more than 1000 movies annually is home to some actors who are truly versatile but underrated. They are known to deliver top notch performances (much better than super stars of commercial cinema) but rarely receive the adulation and compensation akin to those promoted repeatedly by media houses. Stars (and not actors), who are over 45 and still play the role of a 28-year-old, are acceptable to the audiences but actors who give dazzling performances in typically off-beat roles are not.

Indian Cinema is a bizarre world, which is only fair because of the diversity a country like ours demands from this medium of art. We’ve segregated our filmmaking into two molds, broadly. There is the kind of cinema that involves acting prowess, a good script and passionate people both in front of and behind the camera; and then there is cinema that’s more business than it is a movie making experience. It does not occur to our dear industry to blend the two and create something magical enough to make all strata of society acquire a kind of cathartic experience. We’re certainly moving in this direction, so I’m still hopeful. The reason that I can keep my hope intact is because of certain actors who’ve without having much screen-space delivered performances that have some particular characters itched in my memory, characters that I resonate with. This list is about the underrated Indian actors who deserve more love and bigger roles.

Amidst all the unnecessary chaos created by social groups against the movie Padmaavat, we as an audience seem to have missed the stellar performance delivered by Jim Sarbh. His portrayal of the character Malik Kafur is sure to be registered in the most iconic roles of the industry.

Jim Sarbh through Kafur’s portrayal has managed to bring to life an immensely complex and intriguing character who deserves a lot more screen space and undoubtedly much more accolades.

Unfortunately it’s not the first time that Jim Sarbh has been subjected to such unfair treatment. His vicious and fear instilling performance in Neerja was as powerful as his romance in Padmaavat. The actor’s fine ability to portray a character so effectively and with ease that one forgets the individual and only pays attention to the role being presented. This ability is something that sadly, most Bollywood actors are incapable of exhibiting.

Jimmy Shergill, Rajkumar Rao, Suvreen Chawla, Ranvir Shorey, Anand Tiwari, Abhimanyu Singh, Bhoomi Pednekar, Radhika Apte, Swara Bhaskar, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, Deepak Dobriyal and Ali Fazal

Compiled below are the names of few more actors with their worthy performances who although have featured in the mainstream Hindi cinema but unfortunately failed to get their due credit for it. What we assure you is that they are definitely better than those we call the ‘best’ in the industry.

  1. Jimmy Shergill: Tanu Weds Manu, Tanu Weds Manu Returns, Saheb Biwi aur Gangster, A Wednesday
  2. Rajkumar Rao: Newton, Queen, Talaash, Shahid, Citylights, Bareilly Ki Barfi
  3. Deepak Dobriyal: Tanu Weds Manu, Tanu Weds Manu Returns, Omkara
  4. Radhika Apte: Shor in the City, Parched, Lion, Badlapur, Hunterr
  5. Swara Bhaskar: Raanjhanaa, Nil Battey Sannata, Anaarkali of Aarah, Tanu Weds Manu
  6. Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub: No One Killed Jessica, Tanu Weds Manu Returns, Raanjhanaa, Raees
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