“You have outdone Smita Patil,” said Shekhar Kapur, when he saw Chitrangda Singh’s performance in her debut movie Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi. This is the kind of talent that doesn’t taste stardom in Bollywood many a times. They are the underrated actors and actresses of Indian cinema. They are like consumer brands which are of exceptional quality yet they don’t become a hit due to reasons beyond their control.

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.

In other words, an underrated actor is someone who despite having immense potential and in spite of having proved himself or herself again and again, hasn’t really got theirs due share of recognition or prominence. He or she need not merely be fitting into the proverbial ‘Hero’ or ‘Heroine ’category in Bollywood. They can also be a character actor or actress who makes a difference to a movie.

There are many underrated actors and actresses in Bollywood. And the list is long. Akshay Khanna, Shiney Ahuja, Kay Kay Menon, Deepak Dobriyal, Konkona Sen, Rahul Bose, Ranveer Shourie,Vinay Pathak,Raghuveer Yadav,Vijay Raaz, Chitragada Singh, Rajat Kapoor,, Abhay Deol  R Madahavan, just to name a few.

Let’s study a few. Let’s take Abhay Deol. Recognized for his epic role in ‘Dev D’, he is a marvelous actor. He is another of those actors who has not achieved the kind of recognition he deserved like most of his contemporaries. The reason could be attributed to the kind of roles he plays and the low profile he maintains. Perhaps the media houses like to write about those who fight in parties or have countless affairs. He has done majority of work with debutant directors; rather unusual and daring in the context of “star driven” Hindi film industry.

Then take the daughter of famous Bengali filmmaker and actress Aparna Sen, Konkana Sen Sharma is known for her off-beat roles. It would not be an overstatement if she could be termed as the queen of contemporary parallel cinema. Film critics always have the best things to say about her but the audiences, and the media fail to identify her talent. A National Award winner for ‘Life in a Metro’, Konkana is still unable to find herself stand on the same pedestal as other leading ladies in Bollywood despite being far superior than many of them.

Had he been a Hollywood actor, he’d have won one of the top awards of that industry. We are talking about Rahul Bose. A famous screenplay writer, actor, director and social activist, he is another actor in the Hindi Film industry who is greatly underrated. Despite having delivered striking performances in a number of movies, he is not termed as superstar – which he actually is. His choice of movies and style of acting make him more eligible for Hollywood cinema. This is perhaps the only reason behind his underrated position in Bollywood.

He is distinguished for playing offbeat and unconventional roles in numerous movies, we are talking about Manoj Bajpai. He is a gem of an underrated Bollywood actor who was appreciated few years back for his role of Sardar Khan in ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’. A veteran theater artist and winner of two National Awards in the past, the actor despite being appreciated by all, is still considered as an underachiever by Hindi film industry standards.

Then take the example of the son of the legendary actor Vinod Khanna, Akshay has been a silent player in all movies in his career despite being a talented actor. He is known for his expressive eyes and unusually gripping acting style. Acclaimed for his performance in ‘Gandhi, My Father’, ‘Dil Chahta Hai’ and others, he is still not rated among the top notch actors in the industry. The actor has become highly selective in his roles.

However, of late, the winds of change in Bollywood are being felt. The industry is recognizing the talents of these unsung heroes and heroines and awarding them handsomely. hopes that Bollywood and the viewers finally recognize these underrated actors and give them the love and respect they deserve and not shower everything they have on the commercial film stars!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here