‘Lost’ is a hyperbole. None of them have passed away. But we certainly lost them to a plethora of options available around us – options that are merely entertaining but are passed off as talent.
While the story holds true many deserving people in the Hindi film industry – actors and technicians alike – I just picked a few actresses who came into limelight during early 2000s. It was definitely the start of a change in Bollywood in terms of content and execution. The Kashyaps and Bharadwajs were beginning to find their ground and were looking for new faces as the old ones were too obsessed with their returns on investments.
Some of the fresh faces found lasted for more than a few films while others bit the dust too early. But sadly enough, none of them had the longevity in the industry, I thought they would. Here are my top 5 picks:
1. Gracy Singh – The girl-next-door of Zee TV soap Amaanat shot to limelight when a certain role of a village belle in a period film based on cricket, turned down by the likes of Rani Mukherjee and Nandita Das, got her a call from Aamir Khan’s office. Today when we look back at Lagaan it is difficult to imagine anybody else lip syncing O Paalanhaare…. with as much conviction, empathy and devotion.
Gracy has a rare distinction of starring in three cult films back to back (well, almost) at the very beginning of her career- Lagaan, Munnabhai M.B.B.S. and Gangaajal. Sadly enough, wrong choice of films and inability to break the girl-next-door image, which made her so endearing to us in first place, left her behind in the race. Wish she could re-invent herself like Vidya Balan and found roles which did not demand shedding off her ‘Indianness’.
Favorite Gracy Singh moment– Pretending to be Dr. Suman and trying to find out Murali’s feelings for ‘Chinki’ in Munnabhai M.B.B.S. Much like Sanjay Dutt, the audience also secretly falls in love with her.
Where is she now? -Keeps herself busy with South Indian and Punjabi films. Was last seen on-screen in 2012 playing a character role in Karisma Kapoor’s comeback vehicle Dangerous Ishq.
2. Gayatri Joshi – Another Ashutosh Gowarikar find. Another one film wonder.
One of the five finalists at Femina Miss India 1999, she modeled for all leading brands from Godrej to Phillips and even appeared in a couple of music videos (woh kaagaz ki kashti by Jagjit Singh) before making a promising debut opposite SRK in Swades. The character of Geeta she portrayed in the film was the ideal ‘bring home to mom’ girl for every Indian teenager at that point of time. Smart, intelligent, poised and beautiful- she topped my list of Bollywood crushes for a really long time. More so because that was the only character she ever played on celluloid. (yes we stupidly mix reel for real). Maybe, much like Gracy, the industry stereotyped her into an ‘Indian’ girl pretty soon and could not come up with anything to exploit her talent.
Favorite Gayatri Joshi moment– Playing teacher to SRK in Swades.
Where is she now ? Married to Vikas Oberoi (M.D., Oberoi Constructions) and playing mother to two children.
3. Perizaad Zorabian – My earliest memories of this ravishingly beautiful lady was a TV soap on Sony called Hum Pardesi Ho Gaye (also starring film actor Ashish Chaudhary). Much like the character in the soap, Perizaad had just returned from U.S. (after an MBA) knowing not what to do (there being a huge gap between what she wanted and what was offered by the Industry).
It was in the years 2003 & 2004 that she earned recognition with off beat films like Mumbai Matinee, Bollywood Calling, Morning Raga (and even a guest appearance in Dhoom) landing in her lap. But it was Subhash Ghai’s production Jogger’s Park (2003) that made her a popular face. Playing a young & vibrant model who falls in love with a person of her father’s age (Victor Bannerjee) the role earned her much critical acclaim and even a nomination at one of the Bollywood Awards; but sadly enough not much work. If the above two heroines got stereotyped into being too Indian, she was slotted as too non-Hindi-non-commercial and could never shed it off.
Favorite Perizaad Zorabian moment – Completely losing herself into the song ‘Mahaaganapathim’ in Morning Raga, singing the ‘fusion part’, as Shabana Azmi’s character renders the classical portion. The camera hardly stays at her, but she still makes her presence felt.
Where is she now ? Married to construction tycoon Boman Rustom Irani, she was last seen playing a character role in N.Chandra’s Yeh Mera India in 2008.
4. Bhumika Chawla– She was already a popular face in Tamil and Telugu cinema, when she made her debut opposite Salman Khan in Satish Kaushik’s Tere Naam. While half the nation had gone crazy over Sallu Bhai’s hairstyle in the film, an equal number of people were smitten by the simplicity and innocence of the new girl cast opposite him.
With her successive choice of roles in Bollywood she could display her range as an actor pretty soon. Whether it was playing a moody film star who decides to have a child out of wedlock in Silsiilay or the duty-bound wife in Gandhi, My Father who must stand by her husband even when he is on his way to self-destruction or simply doing the routine Bollywood heroine stuff in Run, she could effortlessly slip into any character. Her sudden exit from Bollywood after 2007 thus left me a little surprised and heart broken.
Favorite Bhumika Chawla moment – Torn between her duty as a daughter-in-law to Mahatma and a loving wife to Harilal Gandhi, she must choose the former.
Where is she now ? She was going pretty strong in the Telugu film industry till 2010. Off-late her appearances have reduced with a number of her films getting delayed.
5. Tara Sharma – After debuting opposite Junior B in Om Jai Jagdish and delivering a hit with country’s first sex comedy in Masti , she quickly got promoted to an actress to look forward to with Madhur Bhandarker’s Page 3 (2005). In fact, it was her character Gayatri in Page 3 who was responsible for one of the film’s most heart-breaking moments when she decides to sleep with her director for a role in a film. This was followed by another cult- Dibaker Baneerjee’s Khosla Ka Ghosla (2006) -where she played the spunky Meghna, wise beyond her years, using her wit and prudence to rescue the Khoslas from the crooked land-shark Khurana.
In 2007 she married ad film producer Rupak Saluja and sadly the offers dried out after that.
Favorite Tara Sharma moment – Just any scene from Page 3.
Where is she now? Juggling between her roles as a mother of two children and TV show host for the second season of The Tara Sharma Show on NDTV Good Times; her last on-screen presence was the indie film 10 ml love in 2012.
While these were a few names which were on top of my mind, I am sure there would be many more who work really hard to make it through, but sadly one bad movie, puts them back to square one. And in most cases, they stay there forever. I was going to mention Amrita Rao in the list as well, but she made a comeback of sorts with Satyagraha & Jolly LLB in 2013. I hope these movies put her back into the consideration set of film makers !