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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Image Courtesy: Mantra
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Who are your favourite actors who went from theatre to Bollywood? Tell us!