Shivaay on contemporary Bollywood actors/stars

A lot of misconceptions flying around users of this forum questioning my credentials of judging Bollywood films and its merits. A few of these misconceptions is what I’d prefer clearing out via this comment. Firstly in my firm opinion, none of the commercial so called ‘Superstars’ since the days of Amitabh can really be termed as ‘actors’ in any capacity. They all are at best ‘performers’ who play to the gallery via signature moves, dialogues & mannerisms that wins them fans & fanatics all over India. The predominantly rural & semi urban demographics of India’s population has over the decades made sure that its mostly the gimmicks & melodramatic antics that sell a lot more than pure content & strong narrative. That being said here is my opinion of all the present day so called superstars of Hindi cinema and as usual, all opinions are in personal capacity alone.

SHAH RUKH – Reasonably versatile in his good old early days of Fauji & Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa but for some reason refused to explore himself beyond the chocolate boy next door image during his superstar reign from the mid 90s to the mid 00s. A victim of his own romantic stammering lover boy image, this genre does not yield dividends once you’re past your prime & the same happened to Shah. His failure to work with better film makers who might have explored a different side to his limited showmanship during his prime cost him dearly towards the later part of his career. Unfortunately even while playing a Mohan Bhargav or a Kabir Khan, all the audience sees is the same boy next door with his arms spread wide out.

AAMIR – As limited an actor as the rest of his contemporaries but with an uncanny ability to read, judge & select good scripts & play the big brother role beyond his role as a pure performer to involve himself in all aspects of the film from scripting to post production. I’d definitely have preferred him behind the camera much more than in front of it and he’s once of Hindi cinema’s greatest film makers who was never to be. No surprise that despite his acting limitations he’s got the best filmography among his contemporaries.

AKSHAY – Brilliant stunt man, excellent at action, oscillates between the laughable to the cringeworthy in comic roles, a genuinely hard working bloke whose wisely chosen to work with some decent film makers of late and added a few gems to his otherwise bogus & laughable filmography will about 7 years ago. His mass appealing dialogue delivery adds to the ‘playing to the gallery’ gimmicks.

<AJAY – Slow mo walking, smoking, brooding & frowning in virtually every role he plays including the Golmaal comedies. Good stunt man and action performer who like all his contemporaries needs a decent film maker to give him a film that’s worth its salt. Like everyone else Ajay too is incapable of performing at a level wherein a mediocre film ends up becoming watchable purely due to the lead actor(s).

HRITHIK – Looks, swag, dance, body language, slow motion walks being his signature, he thankfully has moved beyond the days of over estimated capabilities that resulted in nostril flaring & nerve dangling cringe performances to being well within his limitations & playing to the gallery in films like War. Super 30 was one major exception in recent times wherein a mainstream commercial performer elevated an Above Average film into being genuinely good & watchable on the merits of his performance (along with able support from the rest). Got the dialogue delivery, expressions & mannerisms nearly spot on and perhaps outdid his own limited abilities. Does well when given films like Lakshya & ZNMD where he needs to underplay and let the script do the talking.

SALMAN – Signature dialogue delivery and action/gimmicks that appease the front benchers, this chap is worse than mediocre in my opinion. I still wonder how someone as below average an on screen performer as him can reach the heights that he did. But then again, we’re talking about India, a land of 300 million gods & goddesses where fate, luck & destiny are adored and worshipped at par with effort & the drills.

JOHN – Looks better than the rest, swag at par with HR, a body language that oozes style & class in equal measure, his cardboard expressions & unidimensional dialogue delivery have made sure he’s been unable to reach the heights of the rest. Still one of my favorites among the lot considering the fact that none of them are ‘actors’ per say, John’s best in films where he’s meant to underplay like Madras Cafe & Batla House.

Now for the real “actors”, the one’s who have the ability to elevate a mediocre film on the merits of their performance alone, KK Menon in Shaurya, Irfan in Madaari, Nawazuddin in Manjhi & Pankaj Tripathi in almost every trashy film he signs are some prime examples.

18 Responses to “Shivaay on contemporary Bollywood actors/stars”

  1. By and Large agree to this. Noone is a pure actor in real sense.

    I for one never had a doubt that they are stars. I neven consider anyone of them as actors.

    So stars and actors are different for me.
    For actors and acting I see OTT.
    For stars i go to cinemas.

    Actors get boring after some time but have longevity.
    On the other hand, Stars excites us and have 5-10 years of life just like a sportsman.

    To become an actor, you need technical finesse.
    To become a star, you need to be an imperfect actor with a screen presence. Have that vulnerability that weakness but a screen presence that underwhlems your weakness.

    Actor is like the best employee
    Star is like the best employer.

    And Star the Amitabh always overwhelmed actor the Amitabh. What Amitabh the actor could do at young age we can see now but with a limited range of roles he can do at this age.

    But i would take Amitabh the star any day over Amitabh the actor.

    I am a cinema lover, which needs stars.


    • And there are lots of movies which are good only because it had Akshay or Shahrukh or Salman or Aamir or Hrithik.

      Actors can make a bad script tolerable.
      Stars can make a bad script acceptable.


    • “real “actors”, the one’s who have the ability to elevate a mediocre film on the merits of their performance alone, KK Menon in Shaurya, Irfan in Madaari, Nawazuddin in Manjhi & Pankaj Tripathi in almost every trashy film he signs are some prime examples”

      Would include Manoj Bajpayee too. Undoubtedly. They are brilliant actors. Give them a good script they can make it better.

      But with a bad script and they tank. They cannot elevate as you say. Only stars can.

      Manoj Bajpayee was sub par in Bewafaa (Akshay, Anil) and the worst actor in the movie, which had shoddy screenplay. Despite being a brilliant actor, Manoj could not elevate the movie. On the contrary he made it worse.

      Nawazuddin was out of sorts for me in Kick except for that laugh which was more of a star like gimmick than acting.

      So actors have a limitation. They need a script. Else they cannot elevate.

      They are employees. Best employees need good company.


      • Always found Manoj highly overrated to be honest. Decent actor but nowhere in the league of Irfan or KK for me. As a show The Family Man might be slightly higher rated due to season 2 but among performances, KKs Himmat Singh’s staunch resilience & ‘silent confidence’ in Special OPS was far more pleasurable than Srikant’s over the top foul antics & dialogues.


        • Agree on KK’s Himmat Singh. KK did well in Special Ops.

          But Manoj is more than decent. Give him a Shool, Aligarh, Satya and Aks and he shines. Family man is a bit more on his shoulders. He is sincere and goes into the character if the script is very good.

          Few other new actors i am watching out are Vikrant Maissy, Siddhant Chaturvedi and Ali Fazal.


    • “But i would take Amitabh the star any day over Amitabh the actor.” – Amitji the star would be just another name in the above list had it not been for Amitji the actor.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. We waste so much time and energy in donkey stars …


    • Yet you’re the one counting every ‘stars’ box office collection down to the last penny. Nothing wrong though, please carry on. Its thanks to you I found out about HRs next being Fighters & AK having being indecisive post LSC for now 😉


      • As i said in the other thread, BO is a game (both for star films and non star films). But writing ‘essays’ on ur silly stars is a level above it. You carry on with it and good luck with your HR’s films.

        Btw, not that i hv read ur post completely – snoozed off after glancing at it. Write abt the movies, that makes some sense.


        • 1. This is a default clarification post.
          2. John’s style & swag > HRs & my favorite actor in India right now is KK since Irfan’s no more.


      • Btw, HR is doing Krrish film after Fighter and AK is doing Mogul after LSC. Cant say i am excited by either of these films. LSC was a different game as FG was a personal fav.


      • Now that even a second tier Marvel film with no brand value except the MCU name seems to be poised for a bigger opening than an Akshay Kumar film, we might be counting the last stars.


        • Isnt F9 also releasing the same day? Furious franchise has some takers in India too.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Yes after Master & Vakeel Saab and now the 2 Punjabi films as well as Hollywood’s films, Bollywood seems to be the only industry struggling to deliver a decent theatrical result at the box office in Covid times. Sooryavanshi/83 or even Shershaah would have been a better bet than Bell Bottom for the theaters.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. A fine write-up by Shivaay and great points by Naveen.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Good points Shivaay. Yes, no one is an actor in real sense but if then everyone is 5/10 then that becomes the ‘standard/average’ of the platform. Just coz someone is not 8/10 doesn’t mean they are not an actor. All the off-beat actors are dying to commercial movies as well and they will do it if they get big offers. No one is trying to be different or just focus on ‘acting-acting’ roles. I feel to reply on each actor’s paragraph but it’ll be long exercise. Overall good thread!


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