From Stage to Screen: 9 Theatre Actors Who Made Bollywood Better!

Posted on 15 May, 2016 by Team Wishberry

Actors-who-got-their-big-Bollywood-break-through-theatre Although Bollywood has often been blamed for overshadowing theatre, if there’s anything Bollywood lovers should thank theatre for, it’s for the talented gems it’s given the film circuit. Who exactly are we talking about? Take a look at the theatre artists without whom Bollywood would be so incomplete!

Shabana Azmi

This list obviously isn't complete without a doff of the hat to one of the finest actors this country has ever produced. Theatre runs in Shabana Azmi's blood, as her mother was a veteran actress of the Indian People's Theatre Association. Although her film debut (Ankur, 1974) was before her theatre debut, she was seen in some memorable plays like Safed Kundali and Tumhari Amrita alongside Farooq Sheikh. Shabana has won five National Awards and many international awards. To this day she continues to be a part of memorable theatre productions.
Theatre To Screen - Shabana Image Courtesy:

Naseeruddin Shah

Naseeruddin Shah is easily one of the most revered actors in the country. An alumnus of the National School of Drama, he started his own theatre company along with Tom Alter, Ratna Shah and Benjamin Gilani called Motley Productions. He’s most remembered for his roles in films like Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyu Aata Hai, Masoom, A Wednesday, Sarfarosh, although pretty much all of Mr. Shah’s works are memorable to be honest.
Theatre To Screen - Naseeruddin Image Courtesy:

Ratna Pathak

Ratna Pathak has left her mark in all circuits of entertainment – theatre, film and television. She co-founded Motley Company along with her husband Naseeruddin Shah. She too is an NSD alumnus. She’s most loved and remembered for her role in the hit television series Sarabhai VS Sarabhai. She has performed in plays such as Sambhog Se Sanyas Ta, Julius Caesar and Mughal Bacha, in addition to several Russian plays.
Theatre To Screen - Ratna Image Courtesy:

Kalki Koechlin

Before she became known for her role in edgy films like DEV D, That Girl In Yellow Boots, Zindagi Naa Milegi Dobara, Kalki was killing it on stage. In fact, she continues to do some stellar theatre work. She has also written plays. Some of her noted theatre works include Hair, Hamlet the Clown Prince and Skeleton Woman.
Theatre To Screen - Kalki Image Courtesy: Mantra

Nimrat Kaur

She started off her career as a model and then went on to pursue theatre. She acted in plays like Baghdad Wedding, All About Women and Red Sparrow. She then went on to make her Hindi film debut in Peddlers which was screened at the Cannes Film Festival. She was also seen in American Hit TV series Homeland, the widely appreciated film Lunchbox and the much talked about Airlift.
Theatre To Screen - Nimrat Image Courtesy: Nimrat Kaur FC

Boman Irani

Eccentric headmaster, authoritarian Dean of Medicine, villainous goon – Boman Irani has played some of the most varied and interesting roles, each one more endearing than the other. He has acted in more than 40 plays till date, his earliest being a regional play called Roshni and most memorable ones being Family Ties, Mahatma VS Gandhi and I am not Bajirao, which ran for 10 years.
Theatre To Screen - Boman Image Courtesy:

Manoj Bajpai

A talent powerhouse adored by everyone for his roles in Satya, Gangs of Wasseypur, Pinjar, Aligarh, Special 26 and the more recent indie short film Taandav, Manoj Bajpai applied to the National School of Drama thrice, only to be rejected on all tries. He later joined Barry John’s school of acting and took up various theatre projects which soon enough made him a noted theatre artist in Delhi, until his debut in a TV series called Swaabhimaan. He has also written three plays during his time in theatre.
Theatre To Screen - Manoj Image Courtesy:

Rajpal Yadav

Rajpal Yadav is one of the most popular comic actors in the country. But before he got his break in Bollywood, Yadav was extremely active in the theatre circuit in District Shahjahanpur near Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. He sought formal training in theatre from the Bhartendu Natya Academy from 1992 to 1994, followed by National School of Drama from 1994 to 1997.
Theatre To Screen - Rajpal Image Courtesy:

Radhika Apte

Radhika Apte began her career while working with Pune based theatre group, Aasakta Kalamanch. She has acted in various plays such as Bombay Black and many Marathi plays such as  Uney Purey Shahar Ek, Matra Ratra, Tu, Purnaviram among others. She stole hearts with her performance in Sujoy Ghosh’s short film Ahalya, Anurag Kashyap’s short film That Day After Every Day and X: Past is Present. She has also worked in films spanning languages like Bengali, Marathi, Tamil, Malayalam and Telugu.
Theatre To Screen - Radhika Image Courtesy:
Who are your favourite actors who went from theatre to Bollywood? Tell us!

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