Bollywood actors bridging the gap between mainstream and offbeat

  • Prashant Singh, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Mar 11, 2015 16:07 IST

They may be considered commercial stars, but a number of Bollywood actresses are defying the stereotype to work with offbeat directors.

Alia Bhatt is doing Abhishek Chaubey’s Udta Punjab, Anushka Sharma’s NH10 is directed by Navdeep Singh, and Kangana Ranaut is teaming up with Hansal Mehta for an untitled film. Sonam Kapoor, too, is set to work with ad-film-maker Ram Madhvani in a biopic on flight attendant Neerja Bhanot, who was murdered on a hijacked flight in 1986.

Ask Hansal about this phenomenon and he says, “How would you define who is commercial and who isn’t?” The film-maker adds, “Such tags belong to films from the ’80s and ’90s. We haven’t seen many successful films in the recent past (sic), so by that definition, no one is a commercial director. It’s just that actors want to play strong characters, do interesting films and be challenged. It’s a mutual process.”

Other examples are of Deepika Padukone teaming up with Soojit Sircar for Piku, and ad-film-maker Shujaat Saudagar directing Shraddha Kapoor in the Rock On!! (2008) sequel. The actresses’ recent successes have been with commercial film-makers, so their choice of roles is particularly interesting. “Shoojit’s film has a role of a lifetime for Deepika. It’s a wise and courageous decision she’s taken. It (the film) will truly showcase her potential as an actor,” Irrfan Khan, her Piku co-star, told HT Café earlier.

Anushka, who is producing the film directed by Navdeep, says she’s collaborating “with young, fresh minds to mount projects and create cinema that truly excites me — both personally and as a viewer”.

Trade analyst Amod Mehra reasons, “Today’s actors know that a huge commercial success might not give them appreciation. And since audiences’ tastes have changed, actors want to strike a balance between commercial films and ‘good’ cinema. So, even if NH10 doesn’t do well, and Anushka’s performance gets appreciated, she will be termed a powerful performer.”

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