As Shakespeare commented, rephrasing it a little, everything’s fair in love and war, but not in Bollywood. Bollywood has its crowd divided when it comes to the carefully calculated brand value every actor is slapped with.
However, there are some actresses, who have done justice to the roles they played, killed it one movie at a time, but still did not get the recognition their co-stars or colleagues in Bollywood managed to gather.
We’ve rounded a list of 19 for you. Read on.
1. Richa Chadda
This versatile actress started her debut in Bollywood with Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! and floored us with her performance in Gangs Of Wasseypur (1 and 2) for which she was awarded the Filmfare Critics Award For Best Actress. Her roles in Fukrey, Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ramleela and Masaan were extraordinary performances Bollywood will treasure for long but she somehow didn’t reach the stardom actresses like Katrina Kaif or Priyanka Chopra landed at.
2. Radhika Apte
Having acted in many Bengali, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam movies, this theatre-turned-movie actress made her debut in Bollywood with Vaah! Life Ho Toh Aisi. She kicked some serious asses in her role in Manjhi The Mountain Man and her short film Ahalya managed to gather appreciation from the best of critics. What’s stopping her from becoming a HUGE brand value, we don’t understand.
3. Nandita Das
An exemplary actress and director, who has done over 30 feature films in 10 different languages and earned respect from critics, audience and touched upon subjects that are bold to experiment with, she played roles in movies like Fire, Earth, Bawandar and Before The Rains that are fearless, bold and defy stereotypes. No stardom for people with substance?
4. Shweta Tripathi
She featured in the Disney show Kya Mast Hai Life before making her debut in Bollywood with Masaan. Even if her performance was brilliant, fandom looks like it is nowhere close for her. How long before we start appreciating real talent!
5. Seema Biswas
Remember Bandit Queen? Yes, for most of you who might not know this, it was Seema Biswas who boldly and fiercely played the character of Phoolan Devi in the Shekhar Kapoor production. The theatre actress deserves a lot more stardom and fan-following.
6. Swara Bhaskar
Her roles in Tanu Weds Manu, Raanjhanaa garnered her critical acclaim and two nominations for Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress. She also played Salman Khan’s sister in Prem Ratan Dhan Payo and did not care about not playing a lead. In fact for her latest film, Nil Battey Sannata, she was warned against doing it because it could end her career. But the actress went ahead and did what she believed in and turned quite a few heads.
7. Divya Dutta
With her significant and strong screen presence in movies like Badlapur, Special 26, Veer-Zaara, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, there’s one thing we will all agree on – she’s exceptional. We have been waiting to see her in a lead role for long and still can’t wait long enough to see her in one.
8. Nimrat Kaur
Lunchbox starrer Nimrat Kaur, who also played Akshay Kumar’s wife in Airlift, is versatile, natural, flexible and a wonderful actress, to say the least. Even if she appeared in one mainstream Bollywood movie, alongside superstar Akshay Kumar, given her talent, what’s keeping her from becoming the brand value her co-stars are?
9. Huma Qureshi
Huma Qureshi hit the spot with her roles in movies like Gangs of Wasseypur, Dedh Ishqiya, Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana. Even if she has performed brilliantly well in each of these roles, she hasn’t quite joined the superstar list yet. Really, what does it take Bollywood?
10. Sandhya Mridul
There’s hardly someone who follows movies and doesn’t know Sandhya Mridul – with movies like Saathiya, Page 3, Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd, and Angry Indian Goddesses, she’s made a quite a prominent mark in Bollywood, yet it sadly went unnoticed.
11. Perizaad Zorabian
She made her debut in Bolly world with Nagesh Kukunoor’s Bollywood Calling and gained international recognition for her role as Jenny in Subhash Ghai’s Joggers’ Park. Thinking of her role as Jenny now, we really wish we could see more of her in Bollywood. But Bollywood isn’t very kind. However, she also worked in a Chinese movie, Bandung Sonata, where she played Indira Gandhi.
12. Mahi Gill
Mahi Gill made her debut in Bollywood with Anurag Kashyap’s DevD and went on to play off-beat and strong roles in many movies like Saheb, Biwi and Gangster, its sequel Saheb, Biwi and Gangster Returns, Paan Singh Tomaar and Gulaal. Even if she did not join the likes of Sonam Kapoor when it comes to brand value, she will always be a memorable part of Bollywood in our minds.
13. Shahana Goswami
She stepped into Bollywood with Naseeruddin Shah’s directorial debut Yun Hota Toh Kya Hota and went on to work in Reema Kagti’s Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd., Ru Ba Ru (opposite Randeep Hooda), Rock On!!. She also worked in Deepa Mehta’s Midnight’s Children, which was an adaptation of Salman Rushdie’s novel.
14. Kalki Koechlin
Giving us some groundbreaking movies like Margarita With A Straw, Dev D, The Girl In Yellow Boots and Shanghai that successfully break the stereotypes surrounding women, Kalki has dealt with bold and often uncomfortable subjects with ease. Why isn’t she in the leagues of them super-duper-zuper-flooper stars? Again, we don’t know.
15. Lisa Ray
This Indo-Canadian actress appeared in Deepa Mehta’s Water, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2005. She also starred alongside Sheetal Sheth and played bold characters in movies like I Can’t Think Straight and The World Unseen.
16. Tisca Chopra
Tisca Chopra, the Indian film and stage actress, made her Bollywood debut with Platform, opposite Ajay Devgn, and went on to work in movies like Firaaq, Taare Zameen Par, Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji and 10 ml Love. Maybe she did not do a lot of lead roles, but she deserves serious fandom for her screen presence in her roles.
17. Konkona Sen Sharma
Mostly into Indian arthouse and independent movies, Konkona Sen Sharma gained attention with the English-language film Mr. and Mrs. Iyer. Despite giving us phenomenal performances in Wake Up Sid, 15 Park Avenue, Omkara, Traffic Signal, Laga Chunari Mein Daag and Talvar, Konkana still largely remains unrecognised.
Well known for her performance in the British film Brick Lane (2007), she was even nominated for the best actress in the British Independent Film Awards for the same. She has played strong roles in Academy Award-winning German director Florian Gallenberger’s film Shadows of Time, Chauranga, Road (with Abhay Deol), Gulabi Gang and has also acted in Parched. Bollywood, Y U no make her a star?
19. Tillotama Shome
An award-winning Indian film actress, Shome has worked in Shadows of Time, Monsoon Wedding, Turning 30 and Shanghai. An experienced actor, who does not quite care about lead roles and focuses on acting alone, she also played a nun in the Australian film, The Waiting City by Claire McCarthy.