evealed! The reason why Bollywood is keen on launching new actresses
There is perhaps no better time to be a debutante in Bollywood than the present. Especially when the film industry is seeing a dearth of actresses.
Sample the star-actress talent in Bollywood: Deepika Padukone is only working with the big filmmakers, choosing directors like Rohit Shetty, Vishal Bhardwaj, Shoojit Sircar and Sanjay Leela Bhansali; Alia Bhatt is opting for heroine-oriented films to titular roles and big budget films with a single heroine; Katrina Kaif is doing films with dance and action, which she is now good at despite having started off as a non-dancer; Sonam Kapoor is choosing roles where she doesn’t have to deliver the goods herself, barring Neerja where she delivered a heart-warming performance eventually winning the National Award; while both Shraddha Kapoor and Sonakshi Sinha are playing it safe after delivering one flop at the box office after the other.
But when you look at the gap they leave behind for other movies, it proves beneficial for debutantes, as there is now more room for them in Bollywood. But when you look at the gap they leave behind for other movies, it proves beneficial for debutantes, as there is now more room for them in Bollywood.
Today, debutante actresses are aplenty in Bollywood – be it star kids or plain vanilla newcomers with no strings attached. While it may seem as though this trend is due to the stereotyping of senior actresses, Bollywood seems to have a different answer. A record 191 films released in Bollywood in 2017 with various newbies and 2018-19 seems to be no smaller.
Mukesh Chhabra, the casting director-turned-filmmaker is shepherding the Hindi remake of the Hollywood hit The Fault in Our Stars, starring Sushant Singh Rajput along with newcomer Sanjana Sanghi. Sanghi maybe debuting as a heroine in the film, but the casting czar who has a keen eye for detail spotted her many years ago. Chhabra says, “I met Sanjana first during the casting of Rockstar. She was a young and dynamic girl with great energy. After a few years, she reconnected for a few ad casting jobs and came across as a mature young lady and to my surprise she was a fabulous actor,” he says.
Karan Johar, had said in 2009 that he would, “rather slash my wrists than work with a bad actor. Maybe when I’m 50 and nobody wants to work with me then I’ll say, ‘now I’ll make my newcomers film’…” In a volte-face, he made Student of the Year in 2011 with three newcomers and is now launching several newcomers from Sara to Tara and Jhanvi to Ananya.
Meanwhile, Chhabra, whose other discoveries Warina Hussain is cast opposite Ayush Sharma in Salman Khan’s Loveratri and Banita Sandhu in Shoojit Sircar’s film October, says the scripts decide the heroine. “If you see, most of these films are love stories. And you need a fresh face for the films. When you make a love story, you want to see a fresh pairing,” he says.
So, when Shoojit was casting the girl for October, he picked up Banita from a chewing gum commercial he had directed earlier with her. “Juhi, Ronnie and I zeroed in on her and were sure that, she is the girl we should go for. My casting director also felt that she was the right person for this character.”
Dates and prices of the stars also are a reason why a newbie gets a launch. “See, the stars will cost a lot of money and then there are date issues. If the male actor is a big star, one needs to match dates and hence it is easier to cast a newcomer who has a lot of promise. And when it happens to be star kids like Sara Ali Khan or Janhvi Kapoor, they also come with a lot of publicity attached to them, making the projects bigger,” he says.
“If your script demands a particular actor, then you will wait for the actress to be free,” opines the editor of the popular Bollywood trade magazine Atul Mohan.
When a big film company like Yash Raj Films, which also has a talent management company, it makes a lot of sense to launch many faces – from Parineeti Chopra to Anushka Sharma or Bhumi Pednekar to Vaani Kapoor, they not only get a good face for their film, but also make money from them by handling their careers. “There is a lot of money in star management and when these actors sign films or do endorsements, it makes more sense to have a lot of newcomers in the bank rather then put all your eggs in the same basket,” says Mohan.