Do good looks really matter in Bollywood?

By ZRG | Updated: Jul 10, 2013, 16:30 PM IST

Rashi Aditi Ghosh and Ankita Chakrabarty/ Zee Research Group

‘Kolaveri Di’ star Dhanush could well be the dusky roadside Romeo, you would choose to ignore. But the Tamil actor has made a majestic entry in Bollywood with ‘Raanjhnaa’ despite being an unconventional ‘hero’ material with average looks, complexion and lean frame. He succeeded in wowing audiences of all age groups alike, a task indeed difficult to achieve in an industry dominated by the ‘fair-complexioned’ and masculine Khans & Kapoors. Yet Dhanush’s latent talents and innate charm are hard to ignore.

Dhanush, however, is not the first of his kind. Before him, many actors who did not confirm to typical Bollywood looks made their mark in the industry and at the Box Office. They managed to build their unique identity in this so–called ‘Show-biz’ world. A profile study of actors, who entered the silver screen with their unconventional looks, shows that most of them were able to achieve stardom and earn fame.

At the apex of the list would be the Shehenshah of Bollywood - Amitabh Bachchan. In his earlier days, he was considered too lean and excessively tall. He did not look like a conventional Hindi cinema hero but his promising persona, impeccable acting skills made him to play characters like Inspector Vijay Khanna, Vijay Dheenanath Chauhan & Shehenshah, and earned him the tag of the “angry young man”. From there on, there was no looking back.

In 1988, Irrfan Khan made his debut with Mira Nair’s much acclaimed ‘Salaam Bombay’. No one thought that this average looking small screen actor will make it big in Indian film industry. Khan has to his credits a national award and the fourth highest civilian award of India ‘Padma Shri’.His talent did not get limited to just Indian film industry, Irrfan also featured in many Hollywood movies like ‘Life of Pi’, ‘Slumdog Millionaire’, ‘The Amazing Spider- Man’ and ‘The Namesake’.

Om Puri is an Indian actor who has appeared in both mainstream Indian films and art films. He also appeared in British and American films. He is also the winner of the Padmashree Award. His performances in movies like ‘Bhumika’, ‘Mirch Masala’, ‘Drohkaal’, ‘White Teeth’ (Hollywood) are worth mentioning.The audience is the ultimate judge. Concurring with the above view film critic Taran Adarsh says, “There is an audience which wants to see all kinds of cinema and different stars even with unconventional looks. It all depends on right project and a right promotion.”

Shabana Azmi, is regarded as one of the finest actresses in India. Azmi’s performances in films like ‘Ankur’, ‘God mother’, ‘Arth’, and ‘Khandhar’ in a variety of genres have earned her praise and awards, which includes a record of five National Film Awards for Best Actress and several international honors.

Nandita Das known for her role in movies like ‘Bawandar’, ‘Fire’ and ‘1947 Earth’ needs no introduction. She has also acted in many regional films. Her Bollywood movies consist of ‘Aks’ opposite Amitabh Bachchan. She also acted in ‘Provoked’. She has various national and international level awards to her credit.

The next actress in the list is Mrs Iyer of Mr. &Mrs Iyer ‘Konkana Sen Sharma’. She first gained attention with the English-language film Mr. and Mrs. Iyer (2002), which was directed by her mother ‘Aparna Sen’, and received the National Film Award for Best Actress for her performance in the film. Her appearance in the Page 3 (2005) got her wider recognition from audiences, and she has since starred in a number of films like ‘Omkara’, ‘Life in a… Metro’ and ‘Wake up Sid’ most of which have garnered her critical praise rather than commercial success.