Currently, the world of Bollywood is torn into two parts – Bollywood Outsiders and Insiders. There are heated arguments and debates on the gatekeepers of this star-studded universe. Without getting into the dreaded N-word that plagues Bollywood, we will take a look at this list of Bollywood ‘outsiders’ who not only shattered the glass ceiling but went above and beyond!
Shah Rukh Khan
Bollywood’s Badshah and King Khan has a typical rags-to-riches story that deserves to be a film on its own! He is an inspiration to all Bollywood outsiders.
SRK wanted to build a career as a sportsperson until a critical injury pulled the trigger on his dreams. He then started off his acting career over the small screen through shows like Fauji, Circus, Umeed, Idiot, and Wagle ki Duniya. Once he got on the silver screen, there was no stopping him!
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan
Interestingly, Aishwarya wanted to get into the field of medicine. She then changed her mind and enrolled in an architecture school, but then started pursuing a career in modeling. Aishwarya Rai made a few appearances in magazines and ads before going on to win the coveted title of Miss World (1994). She kickstarted her career in Mani Ratnam’s Iruvar in 1997 and the rest is history.
The Punjabi Munda was a well-known face on reality TV shows before he made it to the silver screen. After his stint over shows like Roadies, Ayushmann stuck to RJing for BIG FM. Even though he made his Bollywood debut in 2012, he was still considered Bollywood outsiders by many.
Vicky Donor not only fetched him the trophy for Best Male Debut but also earned him the Best Male Playback Singer for “Paani da Rang.” After a period marked by struggles, Ayushmann delivered hit after hits with films like Bareilly ki Barfi, Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, Badhaai Ho, Uri, and Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan.
Fondly called “Piggy Chops,” Priyanka Chopra debuted with Humraaz in 2002 after winning the title of Miss India World. After a few hits and misses, Priyanka finally found her groove in films like Kaminey and 7 Khoon Maaf.
Films like Barfi!, Krishh 3, Mary Kom, Jai Gangaajal, and Bajirao Mastani got her in the spotlight, which eventually landed her a spot in the American thriller series, Quantico, Baywatch, and The Sky is Pink.
Rajkummar Rao followed the legacy of SRK as he believed that Bollywood outsiders could also make it big. He made a couple of appearances in a few films before Gangs of Wasseypur got him in the limelight. He continued to deliver extraordinary performances in films like Kai Po Che!, Shahid, and Queen, Aligarh, Bareilly ki Barfi, and Stree, amongst others.
Kangana Ranaut is one of those Bollywood outsiders who need no introduction. She is well-known for her outspokenness and troubled professional and personal relationships. Kangana started her career on a high note and gave a lasting performance in her debut films Gangster and Woh Lamhe.
Films like Fashion, Tanu Weds Many, Raaz: The Mystery Continues, and Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai continued to steer her career on an upward slope. After displaying her acting diversity through films ranging from Queen to Revolver Rani, she fortified her stake as a serious actor.
Sushant Singh Rajput
Sushant Singh Rajput floated his acting career through a string of TV series. However, his talent was easily spotted as he made his appearance in notable films like Kai Po Che!, Shuddh Desi Romance, Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!, MS Dhoni: The Untold Story, and Chhichhore. Apart from acting, he was heavily involved in social causes and philanthropic activities. The tragic news of his life cut short left several fans in shock and outrage regarding the treatment of Bollywood outsiders.
Kriti made her Bollywood acting debut against Tiger Shroff in the film Heropanti. While the film received mixed reviews, critics lauded Kriti’s performance in the film. She started finding her footing in Bollywood after delivering films like Bareilly ki Barfi, Housefull 4, and Panipat.
The news of Irrfan Khan’s passing was shattering, to say the least. He was one of those Bollywood outsiders that everyone could relate to. In addition to becoming one of the greatest stalwarts in Bollywood, Irrfan won hearts in timeless British and American films as well! From Salaam Bombay! to Slumdog Millionaire to Angrezi Medium, he has always won us over with his performances.
Taapsee Pannu got her break from the reality show Get Gorgeous, which got her a string of endorsements and modeling contracts. She forged an impressive acting career in Tamil, Telugu, and Malayalam films before venturing into Bollywood. She acted opposite Amitabh Bachchan in the courtroom drama, Pink, which was the stepping stone of her career in Bollywood. Taapsee has featured in films like Mission Mangal and Thappad and is due to make an appearance in films like Haseen Dillruba and Shabaash Mithu.
Many of us know Vikrant Massey through his TV shows like Balika Vadhu, Qubool Hai, and even web series like Mirzapur and Made in Heaven. He is one of those Bollywood outsiders who fall into the bracket of “thinking actors.” He is well-known for playing crucial roles in cerebral, thought-provoking films like A Death in the Gunj, Lipstick Under my Burkha, and Chhapaak.
Since we are talking about Vikrant Massey and Mirzapur, how can we forget to mention the charming Ali Fazal? Interestingly, Ali made his first on-screen appearance through the Indian-American romantic comedy, The Other End of the Line. He also featured in the American miniseries, Bollywood Hero.
However, his break in commercial Bollywood came in the form of 3 Idiots followed by Fukrey and Baat Bann Gayi. His fleeting cameo in the seventh installment of the Fast & Furious series and acting opposite Judi Dench in Victoria & Abdul is worthy of global recognition.
Inspired by the likes of Madhuri Dixit and Shabana Azmi, Vidya Balan got into the field of acting with Ekta Kapoor’s Hum Paanch at the tender age of 16. She returned on the screen in 2005 with the hit, Parineeta, and immediately shot to stardom.
She then delivered hits after hits in the form of Lage Raho Munna Bhai and Guru, while also serving a few misses like Salaam-e-Ishq. Her commendable acting in Heyy Babyy and Bhool Bhulaiyaa got her back in the middle of all the action. She followed it with other hits like Paa, Ishqiya, No One Killed Jessica, Dirty Picture, and Kahaani. After a small hiatus, she acted in critically-acclaimed films like Tumhari Sulu and Mission Mangal.
Of course, this list is not exhaustive and there are the likes of Swara Bhasker, Pankaj Tripathi, Manoj Bajpayee, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, and other Bollywood outsiders, who have left an indelible mark on the industry.
That being said, who is your favorite actor on this list? Have we missed someone? Let us know in the comments below!