Thursday, 8 January 2015

Rebels With A Cause: 9 stars who are destroying Bollywood stereotypes

At a time when Bollywood seems obsessed with churning out perfectly marketed ‘100 crore blockbusters’ we celebrate the stars who have rebelled against industry stereotypes and dared to be individuals in a sea of conformity.

While the title of ‘King Khan’ may alternate between Shahrukh and Salman, Aamir has emerged as the real Emperor of Bollywood. With his utter contempt for manufactured award shows, and other Bollywood trappings, the shyest of the Khans has let his work speak for itself. He is singular in his dedication to the craft and in placing quality over box office numbers. Possibly the first method actor in India, Aamir’s complete immersion in his roles is something no Indian actor has come close to emulating. Can’t wait to see what he has in store for us in Peekay.

Possibly most fearless and versatile male superstar in Bollywood after Aamir Khan, Ranbir Kapoor hasn’t fallen into the trap of doing over-the-top macho roles or formula films for box office profits. This is not to say he hasn’t done masala films, however, Ranbir’s most memorable performances are in off-beat roles such as Wake Up Sid, Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year and Barfi where his real genius shines through.

He may be lying low for a while but no list of Bollywood game changers is complete without mentioning the rebellious Deol. His intolerance of run-of-the-mill roles and being typecast has resulted in a body of work so impressive that it will take more than a two year hiatus to dull Abhay Deol’s star.

Kalki Koechlin has defied stereotypes since her breakout role as a naive schoolgirl turned prostitute in Dev D and has built an impressive body of work that stands out in an industry where women are treated little more than decorative pieces in films. Her latest film ‘Margarita-With a Straw’ in which she plays a young romantic rebel confined to the wheelchair received a standing ovation at the Toronto International Film Festival where it was recently screened.

There’s nothing conventional about India’s most heralded international star. He can send a shiver down your spine as the intense Roohdar in Haider or he can charm you as Saajan in Lunchbox; even in cameos like the one in the Amazing Spiderman, Irrfan Khan is compelling. The secret? He refuses to be trapped into stereotypes that plague Bollywood and morphs into each character he plays. Irrfan has also rebelled against the term Bollywood itself which is a homonym of Hollywood saying it diminishes the Indian industry. You can’t get more rebellious than that.

Alia Bhatt is the surprise that no one saw coming. A refreshing change from the image conscious actresses that populate Bollywood, Alia Bhatt is not afraid of making fun of herself. Not only has she endeared herself to critics through her groundbreaking performances in films like Highway and Two States, Bhatt is also YouTube star. We applaud the only actor in Bollywood history with the guts to take spoof herself. We can only hope that other stars follow her lead.

Ranveer Singh is unafraid to be himself. His manic energy has lent itself to amazing performances in movies like Ram Leela and Band Baja Baraat. He also remains the only actor to have done a condom commercial. However, it’s the dare that he did to promote Hrithik Roshan’s Bang Bang film that is our current favourite Ranveer antic.

Enough has been said about Kangana’s star making performance in Queen. However, Kangana Ranaut’s real bravery extends beyond the screen where she has been extremely candid about her struggles, particularly about being ridiculed for accent and looks. Her emergence has one of the industry’s most unique talents has been an uphill task to say the least, she deserves all the applause she gets.

From not having enough money to pay for rent in Mumbai to his breakout performance in Aamir Khan’s Peepli Live, Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s years of struggle seem to have finally paid off. His turn as a character actor in films such as Gangs of Wasseypur, Lunchbox, Talaash and Kahaani have made him a household name. It is time we celebrated one of the tremendous and unique talents to emerge in Bollywood in recent years.