Bollywood is known for loving formulas, sticking to the tried and tested, so resolutely sometimes, it becomes borderline boring. And generation after generation has tried to play it safe. Actresses have often picked safe or glamorous roles or ones that were sure to catapult them to the big league. Actors would take time to experiment, the more meaty, more grey roles reserved for when they had enough of being a wallflower in the movie. It was only after that they bagged those box office hits that they started delving into off-beat choices. Fast forward to today and things have changed. The new generation of stars including millennial actors is heading straight for the jugular. They’re choosing roles that have more depth, that ditch the glamour, have a sense of relatability, and connect with the audience on a personal level. And that’s also thanks to the rise of OTT content. Viewers are beginning to outgrow the cliche Bollywood comedies where the female star’s presence is merely restricted to being the lead actor’s lover, or an unrealistic romantic film with flimsy plot lines. Actresses are experimenting and opting for roles with strong character arcs. Some are even turning to darker characters and playing the anti-hero. From Janhvi Kapoor to Alia Bhatt, here are 5 actresses who are stepping out of the box by opting for unconventional grey characters that may not necessarily be a big screen blockbuster but are roles that certainly showcase their talent.
1. Alia Bhatt in Darlings
Alia may have started her sophomore years with light-hearted films portraying the girl next door. But after her performances in Highway, Raazi, Gully Boy, Udta Punjab and Gangubai Kathiawadi, she has proved her versatility and that she can step into the skin of a character, however dark, with ease. Alia has created a niche for herself and we can see her play dynamic characters on screen. In her upcoming film Darlings, Alia not only turns producer for the first time but also ventures into dark comedy. It is evident from the trailer that her character has a grey side to it due to the turn of events and we’re excited to watch how things pan out in this one.
2. Janhvi Kapoor in Good Luck Jerry
Janhvi Kapoor’s recent film is proof that the Gen-Z star isn’t afraid to keep experimenting till she finds her niche. After Dhadak, Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl and Roohi, the celebrity takes it a notch higher by attempting dark comedy. She plays a drug peddler in her recent film Good Luck Jerry–not something you’ll expect. While the film had a few loopholes and didn’t have the best climax, Janhavi’s performance is worth a mention. It is difficult to take on a dark role at an early stage of your career but that she attempted it and did a decent job is commendable.
3. Samantha Ruth Prabhu in The Family Man 2
The current trend in Bollywood is to rope in the big stars from the South. But before appearing on the big screen, Samantha forayed into the OTT space with The Family Man 2 and played the main antagonist, Raji. Here, she broke not one but two stereotypes. On her appearance in the recent episode of Koffee With Karan, the celebrity mentioned why she chose this role. She said, “It was just this cry for a challenge because you know you get typecast with the roles that you are offered in the south, not because of any fault of theirs but directors saw me a certain way the bubbly cute, love interest and I was feeling stifled and I really wanted to breakthrough and here there was an opportunity to look at myself through another lens and I grabbed it.” We’re glad she took the plunge–her career took a turn for the better.
4. Yami Gautam Dhar in A Thursday
The celebrity has often played a romantic interest to lead actors in films like Vicky Donor, Kaabil, Baala and Badlapur. We’ve hardly noticed the star come into her own and drive a film. That changed in A Thursday. Yami delivers a solid performance, wherein she plays the antagonist Naina, a play school teacher who holds 16 students hostage (and a driver and domestic worker), demanding to meet the Prime Minister face-to-face. We hope to see her in more roles like this one.
5. Sara Ali Khan in Atrangi Re
Sara has a very bubbly personality and that translated into the character Rinku in Atrangi Re. She was as loud and chirpy in the first half of the film as much as an emotional wreck in the second half. Rinku is madly in love with a magician and keeps running away with him. It is only later that we realise that Rinku’s lover is imaginary and she is hallucinating all this while. The film centers around mental health and what happens to a person’s psyche after they go through a traumatic experience. While the concept was great, the flowery way in which it is depicted is questionable. However, this is undoubtedly Sara’s film and one in which her performance has been one of her best.