We Indians eat, sleep and drink films. Even kids are obsessed with Bollywood right from their kindergarten days. Talking about Hindi films, there are many actors who left an impression on our minds. Bollywood is home to many versatile actors, who never allowed their star value to overshadow them. They focused on artistic expression; their enigma keeps us hooked to the screen. The versatility of these actors is what has made them icons in a world obsessed with stars. There are some who did not make it to this list but that is because we are confined to just 10 names. We salute all these actors for their meaningful contribution to Hindi films even as we list the top 10 versatile actors in Bollywood, who deserve a privileged place in audiences’ heart.
Boman Irani is a film and theater actor, photographer and a voice artist. He was born into a Parsi family on December 2, 1959, in Mumbai. His noteworthy contributions include ‘3 Idiots’, ‘Ferrari Ki Sawari’, ‘Munna Bhai MBBS’, its sequel ‘Lage Raho Munna Bhai’, ‘Khosla Ka Ghosla’ and ‘Don’. Irani has played roles as diverse as a calculating crime boss to a doctor with a huge anger management problem.
Born in 1974, Nawazuddin Siddiqui is an Indian film actor who has appeared in some of Indian cinema’s path-breaking films like ‘Black Friday’, ‘Peepli Live’, ‘Kahaani’, ‘Gangs of Wasseypur part I and II’ and ‘Talaash’. Siddiqui spent his early life in the small town of Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh. Although his first film was the 1999 Aamir Khan blockbuster ‘Sarfarosh’, recognition came to him as late as in 2010 with ‘Peepli Live’. But 2012 was Nawazuddin’s year when four of his films hit bull’s eye at the box office.
Kamal Haasan was born on November 7, 1954 in Paramakudi, Tamil Nadu. He debuted as a child artist in the film ‘Kalathoor Kannamma’, which was released in the year 1960. Since then, he has starred in nearly 200 films in major Indian languages such as Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Hindi. He has been a part of the film industry for nearly 52 years. His Hindi film escapades include ‘Ek Duje Ke Liye’, ‘Sagar’ and ‘Sadma’ – all three hailed as cult classics.
Om Puri is a stalwart of Hindi film industry and is one of the most versatile actors to have graced the silver screen. Born in Ambala, Haryana, Om Puri has appeared in both mainstream Hindi films and parallel cinemas. He has embellished his film career by appearing in British and American films, too. A graduate of the FTII, Om Puri is an honorary OBE. His work in Hindi films is too vast to put down in this description. He just deserves to be here.
Most lists on versatile actors may not have this one name in them, but it would be a sin if we skip Saeed Jaffrey. He has appeared in several Hindi and British films. He has prominent Hindi films behind him like ‘Shatranj Ke Khiladi’ and ‘Masala’, and also has an enviable work in British films. His television series, ‘Tandoori Nights’, was the talk of the town at the time of its release. No doubt, he is still held in high esteem till date.
Born in Jaipur, Irrfan was enrolled in a master’s program when he was offered a fellowship in 1984 at the Delhi-based National School of Drama. In 1987, having completed his degree at NSD, he shifted to Mumbai in search of better opportunities. He did bits and pieces roles in television and theatres before getting a role in ‘Salaam Bombay’ in 1988. However it was more than a decade later, in 2001 with Asif Kapadia’s ‘The Warrior’ that he made his presence felt in national as well as international circles. Apart from ‘The Warrior’, his other prominent films include ‘Maqbool’, ‘Haasil’, ‘Life of Pi’, and ‘Paan Singh Tomar’. He has also appeared in the American TV series ‘In Treatment’.
Shabana Azmi, together briefly with Smita Patil, was one of the major female voices of the parallel cinema movement in India. She is widely considered to be the poster-woman of the Indian New Wave cinema. Born to the poet-actress duo of Kaifi Azmi and Shaukat Azmi, Shabana Azmi has to her credit a number of milestones in her career that include films such as ‘Ankur’, ‘Nishant’, ‘Masoom’, ‘Mandi’, ‘Fire’, and ‘Godmother’. Married to the lyricist Javed Akhtar, she has enjoyed a celebrated womanhood and a gratifying career in Bollywood.
Born in 1938 as Harilal Jariwala to a Gujarati family, Sanjeev Kumar was one of the rare Bollywood actors who managed to balance both mainstream as well as artistic film throughout his career. A veteran of method acting, he has often portrayed roles that challenge the creative dimensions of any actor. Some of his greatest films include ‘Aandhi’, ‘Khilona’, ‘Angoor’, ‘Koshish’ and ‘Sholay’.
Born on July 20, 1950 in Barabanki, Uttar Pradesh, Naseeruddin Shah went on becoming a legend in his own right in the Hindi film industry. He is considered to be one of the greatest stage and film actors of the country. Shah holds a revered position in parallel films besides the mainstream ones like ‘Masoom’, ‘Sparsh’, ‘Sarfarosh’, ‘Mirch Masala’, et al. A winner of several awards at both national and international levels, Naseeruddin Shah continues to entertain us by his diverse avatars in his films.