When Kangana Ranaut forayed into cinema, many were taken aback by her performance in Gangster, a film that won her many awards and appreciation. She was 18 back then, a newcomer to the industry with no godfathers to look up to, and zero experience. But, years later, after being recognised as a breakout artiste in 2006, she continues to soldier on as one of Bollywood’s top actresses, whose every quote sparks a nation-wide debate.
With mainstream artistes often given more importance in the industry, it’s always a delight to watch a lesser-known, relatively smaller artiste working hard, promising to deliver a breakout-worthy performance on the bigger screen.
Here is a list of actors who have a fairly impressive record already, but are perhaps newer faces to look forward to in mainstream cinema.
She is all of 20 years old, whose origin is that of second generation Indians living in the UK. Banita Sandhu, in an interview with the BBC, said that she had made her plans clear to her family when she was 10. She started starring in short films and advertisements by the age of 11. And now, nine years later, she has bagged the role of the female lead in Shoojit Sircar’s October, starring opposite Varun Dhawan – something most would consider a rather impressive feat.
She had worked with Sircar on a three-minute Doublemint commercial. The commercial, with no dialogues, captures a couple and their love story. Her claim to fame in India, however, was a Vodafone ad that garnered over a million views and was perhaps instrumental in fetching her her first Bollywood project. She was 18 when she shot both commercials.
October‘s trailer is already out, and it features Banita as a hotel management trainee and also as someone who is bedridden years later. October releases on April 13, 2018.
24-year-old Mithila Palkar, whose playful eyes and sharp tongue occupied our Facebook and Filtercopy screens for a long time, is extremely popular in the digital world. While Palkar is recognised as a social media star owing to her performance in the web series Little Things and then as Meera Sehgal in Girl in the City, she is also a musician. Palkar is known for her rendition of the Marathi song ‘Hi Chaal Turu Turu’, using Anna Kendrick’s ‘Cup Song’ as inspiration. The YouTube video garnered over three million views.
While she has starred in movies such as Katti Batti and Marathi film Muramba, she will be seen as the female lead in a Bollywood film titled Karwaan, alongside Irrfan Khan and Dulquer Salmaan. If you’re following her on social media, you can see her taking photos from the sets of the film and sharing tidbits from her shoot. Karwaan will release in June this year.
You might remember her as the trusted friend of Sid from Wake Up Sid, who drives all her friends around at night. She is the daughter of actor Tiku Talsania, who has starred in numerous Hindi films in the 90s, mostly known for his comic timing. Shikha has also starred in the web series Man’s World, playing Agya, representing a dominant wife in a world where there’s no patriarchy but matriarchy.
She has Veere Di Wedding with Sonam Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor, and Swara Bhaskar to look forward to, in which, as seen in the posters, she will play one of the leads.
Harsh Mayar was a child actor who forayed into cinema at the age of 11 with I Am Kalam, which was screened at several film festivals including the 63rd Cannes Film Festival. Since then, Mayar has starred in an international project titled Desires of the Heart and a few TV shows in Hindi. However, his recent convincing performance as the difficult child Aatish in Rani Mukerji’s comeback film Hichki was a revelation. While it can’t be dubbed as a breakout performance, it certainly gave us a new young actor who has a long way to go.
Shashank Arora has done a lot of work, starring in lead roles in Titli and Brahmanaman, the latter becoming fairly popular in the streaming world thanks to Netflix. He starred in Rock On II and Lipstick Under My Burkha, in small roles but left quite an impact. Let’s face it, Shashank is a good actor and deserves his due. He has nothing to prove considering his performances speak for themselves, and he has a whole lot of promising projects in the pipeline too. He may not be mainstream yet, but it’s only a matter of time.
This 29-year-old has Nandita Das’ Manto and Geetu Mohandas’ Moothon to look forward to, two films that sound interesting and unconventional.
Ishaan Khatter is only 22 and already has two films in the pipeline, one of them an international project. While his half-brother is Shahid Kapoor, the actor’s first project was not a Bollywood one. Starring in Majid Majidi’s Beyond The Clouds as Amir, a young boy from the slums, Ishaan seems to have impressed a number of critics who watched the film at film festivals. The trailer too gives a peek into his character, a boy whose eyes do the talking.
Khatter also has Dhadak in the pipeline, the Hindi remake of the Marathi film Sairat. Starring alongside another newcomer Jhanvi Kapoor, daughter of Sridevi and Boney Kapoor, Ishaan is certainly an actor to watch out for.
A few years ago, Angira Dhar starred in a little web series on YouTube called Bang Baaja Baaraat – a rather fun take on the misadventures of a young, urban couple who are all set to have a big, fat, Indian wedding, and experience all the drama that unfolds before the big step. The series was immensely popular and returned again. And with that series, we were introduced to yet another artiste whose work speaks for itself.
Angira was also seen in the popular Cadbury Silk ad, after which she briefly disappeared, but was not forgotten. She made a rather bigger return, with her first feature length film – Love Per Square Foot – a Netflix original. In the film, Angira played Karina D’Souza, a young woman who aspires to be independent and wants something to call her own. A heartwarming tale of a young couple who have a marriage of convenience but end up falling in love, Angira nailed the role of a regular Mumbai girl who gets down to brass tacks, and tries not to get swayed easily.
In an interview with The Indian Express recently, Angira revealed that she has been getting a lot of offers to star in web series but is only interested in feature films for now. She has a few projects coming up and will reveal them over time.