• Tuesday, March 05, 2024

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Hindi leading ladies hit an all-time low

Why Bollywood is having its biggest heroine crisis

Sara Ali Khan

By: Asjad Nazir

WOULD you be able to tell Tara Sutaria, Disha Patani, Kiara Advani, Vaani Kapoor and Rakulpreet Singh apart if shown photographs of them? Even the most die-hard Bollywood fans would struggle with this conundrum or think of a truly memorable role they have played.

You could perhaps recognise Sara Ali Khan, Ananya Pandey, and Jahnvi Kapoor because they have famous parents, but would likely struggle to name an incredible performance they have delivered in Bollywood. That is because they are part of arguably the worst group of younger leading ladies that Bollywood has ever produced.

,Kiara Advani

Hindi cinema has regularly delivered icons going right back to Devika Rani in the 1930s, but in the past decade, Alia Bhatt is perhaps the only one to have emerged as a truly great talent. All the others, like Parineeti Chopra and Kriti Sanon, have failed to live up to their promise. Taapsee Pannu and Bhumi Pednekar have attempted to offer something different but had their careers blighted by seemingly concentrating on quantity ahead of quality.

It has been left to 37-yearold Deepika Padukone, who made her Bollywood debut 16 years ago with Om Shanti Om to carry the leading lady mantle.

The other bankable heroines like Katrina Kaif, 40, and Anushka Sharma, 35, are doing a lot less films. With Priyanka ChopraJonas, 41, making the move to Hollywood and outsiders no longer getting opportunities like before, the leading lady standard has plummeted to the kind of low not imaginable.

No one who has emerged in the past decade will ever have the talent level or star power of icons like Nargis, Waheeda Rehman, Madhubala, Asha Parekh, Hema Malini, Sridevi, Madhuri Dixit or the many other silver screen queens from the past. Instead of realising this current crop of young leading ladies is no good, most are getting repeated chances from producers, despite the industry crying out for fresh blood.

Disha Patani

A major factor in the standards lowering has been nepotism, but lazy producers unwilling to take a chance on outsiders should also take the blame. In stark contrast, Pakistan has had a generation of world-class leading ladies emerge, but a ban in India on talent from that country has meant they have been barred from rescuing Bollywood. Similarly, there have been great young leading ladies on television with incredible acting experience and big fan bases, including Shivangi Joshi, Helly Shah, Ashi Singh, Tejasswi Prakash, Nia Sharma, Drashti Dhami, Pranali Rathod and Sumbul Touqeer Khan, but unfair discrimination against TV talent in Hindi cinema has prevented them from showing how great they are.

Forthcoming film The Archies will launch new leading ladies Suhana Khan and Khushi Kapoor, but it seems to be more of the same because they too are nepotism products riding on the back of famous parents. If the current crop of young leading ladies is bad, then it is even worse with the heroes. It is so shockingly bad with young male talent that there currently isn’t a bankable male star in their 20s and only a couple in their thirties, which is why older heroes like 57-year-old Shah Rukh Khan continue to rule.

Ultimately, if young people are the future, then the outlook for Bollywood is bleak in the years ahead.

Eastern Eye

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