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Bollywood stars who portrayed characters with special needs

Rani Mukerji in Black, Konkona Sen Sharma in 15 Park Avenue and now Priyanka Chopra in Barfi....what is it about these inwardly-ravaged characters that make them awards-worthy?

bollywood Updated: Sep 19, 2012 18:59 IST
Subhash K. Jha

Rani Mukerji in


, Konkona Sen Sharma in

15 Park Avenue

and now Priyanka Chopra in


....what is it about these inwardly-ravaged characters that make them awards-worthy? Here's looking at 11 actors who have played such roles.

Rajesh Khanna in
Nurse nurse mein agan

! After a breakup, Rajesh Khanna comes to a mental asylum to be cured by nurse Waheeda Rehman who has the hots for him. The performance was remarkably hysterical

laughter, no nervous twitches or a pointed was all amazingly smooth-sailing. One of Khanna's best, Salman Khan played the same role in the recent

Kyun Ki

...quite effectively

Smita Patil in
/ Bipasha Basu in

... Hiccuping hysterically, wheezing in anguished nervousness, screaming as she falls dangerously into dementia, Smita was a sight in


! Years later in a strange adaptation of Ron Howard's

A Beautiful Mind



, Russel Crowe's character underwent a sex change. He was transformed into Bipasha Basu! And she pulled out all plugs to deliver a rousing performance as a woman who 'sees' her imagined lover John Abraham. Schizophrenia in kitsch form...Bipasha also played a traumatized woman in Saurabh Shukla's



Raakhee in
Raakhee mera naam

...As a woman who suffers a complete nervous breakdown after she's incessantly tortured by the villains Raakhee was scarily real in this brilliant Rahul Rawail film. The fear and later the void in the actress' eyes was palpable.

Salman Khan in
Tere Naam
Sal-mad Khan

... You could doubt the medical authenticity of this cock-and-bull story. But the angst in Khan's eyes as he lapsed in a dungeon-styled dementia (chains in the hands and feet) and the pain of unrequited love stayed with you A truly bravura performance that deserved a lot more recognition.

Farida Jalal in
Batty ho jayee

...An underrated gem of a performance. As an adult with an under-developed IQ, desperate to latch on to anyone who would marry her, Farida was poignant and cruelly funny.

Ayesha Kapoor in
Just ...chilling

. Though she wasn't mentally challenged her acute isolation caused by her deafness and muteness made little Ayesha's character a portrait of volatile dysfunctionalism. The little girl gave what can comfortably be called the best performance by a child.

Kamal Haasan in
Sicko drama

... If you haven't seen the Tamilian maverick do the psycho in this psychedelic thriller, you haven't really watched an actor go over the edge without going over-the-top. Kamal Haasan walked that thin dread line without losing hold of the character's heart-ripping roots.

Sridevi in
Sad-pa, Sad-ma, sad sack

.. As the child-woman suffering from amnesia, Sridevi pouted preened and pirouetted without looking monstrously hammy. Her performance was cute endearing heartwarming and utterly authentic.

Konkona Sen-Sharma in
15 Park Avenue

Indoor-Park conflict.... If Sridevi in


was cute, Konkona is acute. As a girl slipping and sliding into total mental collapse, Konkona comes into her own. Her understanding of the nature of schizophrenia is so acute, you wonder if she's 'acting' for a camera or assuming a personality disorder that comes from within her. This is one split personality that doesn't have you in splits. The portrait of schizophrenia raises harrowing recollections of Smita in


. Could Shabana's presence in both films be the creative catalyst?

Sanjeev Kumar in

Toy buoyed! In this bizarre melodrama about a kothewali (Mumtaz)'s efforts to wean a "paagal" (that's how mentally disturbed souls were known in our past movies) away from insanity had Sanjeev Kumar giving a broad but clenched performance. In scenes where he was locked up in a room, he behaved like King Kong on steroids threatening to break the window grill and leap at his lady love

Priyanka Chopra in
Jhilmil sitaron ka aangan hoga

... As the autistic Jhilmil in Anurag Basu's gentle and joyful new film, Priyanka Chopra brings to her role, the kind of elegant edginess that very few actors in India have managed while playing psychologically special human beings. Priyanka strips her persona of all glamorous vanity, and outstrips even Ranbir Kapoor who is outstanding in his right, thereby proving herself once again to be the best actress in the post-Sridevi generation.

And a special mention- Hrithik Roshan in
Koi...Mil Gaya

Though he didn't play a psychologically challenged character, Hrithik proved himself one of the finest actors of the pre- and post- Bachchan era, playing the autistic child-man in his dad's

Koi... Mil Gaya

. Catching the


of the character to perfection, Hrithik made us forget Tom Hanks in

Forrest Gump