Free Press Journal

Untapped and under-rated: Meet Bollywood’s pool of unexploited potential

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It is a well-known fact that Bollywood is simply brimming with talent, both fresh and dated. In such an industry, it so happens that ‘stars’ who repeatedly play the same characters, are blindly  preferred over ‘actors’ who bring variety and experimentation to the craft, saving the audience the monotony. The stars walk away with the massive pay check, and these actors slowly become ‘has-beens’. We compile a list of some of the most significant actors in mainstream Hindi films, who we hope eventually get their due in the future.

Tahir Raj Bhasin


One would assume that in a film by Yash Raj production meant no one would over shadow Rani Mukherjee, but Tahir managed to stand out and made a sinister character out of Walt. For a while there, he seemed to be lost among the crowd bordering as being typecast as the anti-hero after ‘Force 2’. Trying to branch out, Tahir will now be playing a quintessential lover boy in a mini web series titled ‘TimeOut?’ He will also be seen in the biopic, Manto, where he plays the role of superstar Shyam from the 1940s, who shared a great friendship with Sadat Hasan Manto. Let’s see if it helps him enter the big leagues soon.

Aahana Kumra

Having a mentor like Naseeruddin Shah, does give you an edge over others. Lucknow girl Aahana Kumra shot to fame after playing Amitabh Bachchan’s daughter in TV series ‘Yudh’.  After which she did serial ‘Agent Raghav’, hosted Pro-Kabaddi and did two web series — ‘Inside Edge’ where she played an alcoholic and ‘Official Chukiagiri’ where she played a “corporate bitch”. Albeit her role in the path breaking film ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ gave her a lot of critical acclaim, the “star-spotlight” still evades her.

Gulshan Devaiah

His performance as the sex maniac in Hunterr (2015) or as the psychotic ‘KC’ in Bejoy Nambiar’s Shaitan (2011) have marked him out as an actor with a difference. His first breakthrough came in a Kannadiga portrayal in ‘That Girl In Yellow Boots’. He even starred in Sanjay Leela Bansali’s Ram-leela and his latest outing was ‘A Death in Gunj’. Gulshan has actually played it selective up till now – however, deserves more fame and spotlight.

Tillotama Shome

Tilotama, an award-winning actress, is possibly one of the main faces of today’s parallel cinema. She shines bright with her choice of roles, but the mainstream or commercial cinema per se, is yet to tap into the talent this woman has to offer. She is often slotted as a ‘serious actress’ by the mainstream Bollywood coterie. Back in 2001, she featured in ‘Monsoon Wedding’ and since then, she’s been a part of the content-driven wave of films like ‘Gangor’, ‘Qissa: The Tale of a Lonely Ghost’, ‘Children of War’ and ‘A Death In The Gunj’ along with some short films. She also featured in ‘Hindi Medium’.

Jim Sarbh

A nuanced theatre actor, he made his Bollywood debut with Sonam Kapoor-starrer ‘Neerja’ as a terrorist. Despite playing an antagonist in the film, Jim grabbed eyeballs and instantly became the talk of the tinsel town. He even played a grey character with suave in Sushant Singh Rajput-Kriti Sanon starrer ‘Raabta’. Jim also has a pivotal role in the controversial ‘Padmavati’, though not word yet if it is a positive or a negative character. Even in his anti-hero roles, he has women drooling over him, imagine if he plays a debonair hero.

Manav Kaul

There are many who may falter standing across an actress like Vidya Balan but Manav held his own. His performance in ‘Tumahri Sulu’ was widely appreciated, though he has proved his mettle as an actor numerous times with films like ‘Jajantaram Mamantaram’, ‘Wazir’, ‘Citylights’, ‘Jai Gangaajal’, ‘Kai Po Che!’, ‘Jolly LLB 2’. But has Bollywood given him the pie yet? The answer is similar to that for the other unconventional ‘character actors’ – a no.

Adil Hussain

A powerhouse of talent this man, he has acted for films in English, Hindi, Assamese, Bengali, Tamil, Marathi, Malayalam, Norwegian and French languages. A National School of Drama (NSD) teacher, Adil has a number of solid back to back performances in films including ‘Ishqiya’, ‘English Vinglish’, ‘Agent Vinod’, ‘Lootera’ and ‘Parched’. His most commendable performance was in ‘Mukti Bhawan’, for which he won a National Film Award as well. He belongs in the league of Irfan Khan and Nawazuddin Siddique.

Abhimanyu Singh

He is the new bad man of Bollywood. Singh garnered a lot of appreciation as the antagonist who locks horns with the character played by Sridevi in Boney Kapoor’s thriller ‘Mom’. His first big break came with ‘Gulaal’, (2009) a film which saw him essaying the lead role of Ransa Singh. His electrifying presence in the first half of the film as the brave heart in the midst of college politics in the hinterlands of Rajasthan, turned many heads. He followed it up with impressive performances with his earthy characters in films like ‘Rakth Charitra’ (2010) and ‘Ram Leela’ (2013). He’s played few significant roles after that film, barring his portrayals of villains in South Indian films. Highly underrated.

Rajat Barmecha

He made his Bollywood debut with Vikramaditya Motwane’s film ‘Udaan’ in 2010. However, post-Udaan, Barmecha’s career didn’t quite take flight, conventionally speaking. Five years later, he did a film called ‘Disco Valley’, produced by Viacom, which was left in cold storage. It never saw the light of the day. Soon enough, Barmecha was being asked about his lacklustre career and was being written off as a ‘one-hit-wonder.’ It’s apparent that the pressure, along with the need to survive in Mumbai, made him pick some questionable films like Warrior Savitri with British starlet Lucy Pinder, which was universally panned. After which he took to Facebook and wrote at length about how some of the most eminent names in the film industry appreciated and acknowledged his brilliant debut but no one offered him any projects. Currently he is part of a TV series ‘Girl in the city’.