They’re fresh as the morning and bursting with the promise of things untold. Vogue meets Bollywood’s young blood, the new crop of actors who’ve
made everyone sit up and take notice.
Who: Parineeti Chopra
Breakthrough moment: Ishaqzaade (2012)
How young: 24
Parineeti Chopra can’t elaborate on her first audition because she doesn’t quite know when it happened. She grew up in Ambala, Haryana, wanting to be an investment banker — she has a triple Honours degree from the Manchester Business School, UK — and was working as an intern in Yash Raj Films’ marketing department when she was discovered by Maneesh Sharma.
Fresh from the success of Band Baaja Baaraat (2010), Sharma was casting for his second feature film, Ladies vs Ricky Bahl (2011), and he thought the energetic intern who went around the office having everyone in splits would be the perfect Dimple Chaddha — a loud, spoilt brat.
“I don’t think I am the best-looking girl. But [Sharma] looked at me and thought I could act. I am indebted to him for life.”
After playing the lead in Ishaqzaade, Chopra went on to shine in Sharma’s next film, too — Shuddh Desi Romance (2013) opposite Sushant Singh Rajput and Vaani Kapoor. She holds one bit of advice from cousin Priyanka Chopra close to her heart.
“She said, ‘Everybody in this industry will tell you what you should do, how you should look, what you should wear…Don’t listen to anyone. Just do what comes naturally to you and you will find your audience’…And, touch wood, I’ve succeeded. I know I have to get more in shape and keep up with fashion but that will come with time. I don’t have to be a ready package.”
Judging from the filmmakers who are scrambling to cast her, no one minds the package. She’s currently filming Karan Johar’s Hasee Toh Phasee, then there’s Habib Faisal’s next and Shaad Ali’s Kill Dil. What we love the most? She doesn’t take herself too seriously.
“Acting is not do-or-die for me. I’m not the kind who fights with other actors to get the better role,” she says. But then, who would want to pick a fight with a bag of smiles?
Who: Alia Bhatt
Breakthrough moment: Student Of The Year (2012)
How young: 20
From a much-guarded secret in Karan Johar’s Student Of The Year to becoming a much-wooed young actor, Alia Bhatt’s new life is far off from the relaxed pace of her days as a Mumbai teen. Yet, the dewy-eyed star insists she’s still figuring things out.
As the daughter of filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt and actor Soni Razdan, it’s not just her genes but also her deep-seated ambition that’s brought her here. She’s wanted this ever since she can remember, “like a kid who desperately wants a lollipop.” Despite the inexperience, or perhaps because of it, her charm unfolds in front of the camera with great ease. “Karan would ask us to turn and smile into the camera to calm the nerves,” she shares, recounting her first day on set.
At home, she has a sounding board in her writer-director sibling, Shaheen. “My sister and I discuss a lot of movies. We’re a very opinionated family,” she says, adding, “She thinks I’m too vain!” Any more feedback, though, will have to wait till the premiere of her next film, Imtiaz Ali’s Highway with Randeep Hooda.
She has an enviable line-up coming her way: 2 States with Arjun Kapoor; Karan Johar’sHumpty Sharma Ki Dulhania with Varun Dhawan; and Anurag Basu’s Jagga Jasoos with Ranbir Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra.
Who: Arjun Kapoor
Breakthrough moment: Ishaqzaade (2012)
How young: 28
Arjun Kapoor is all muscles these days. Yet, the actor admits he still struggles with his weight: “Some people are blessed; they don’t have to work too hard to look the way they do. I’m not.”
Kapoor always knew he’d end up on a film set, but acting wasn’t on the cards till Salman Khan egged him on to take the plunge. His debut, Ishaqzaade, fetched him good reviews, but he remains his worst critic. “In retrospect, no scene looks right. By the time you’ve shot the scene and watched it on the big screen you’ve grown so much [as an actor] that you think you’d do it differently.”
After playing a rugged cop in his sophomore release (Aurangzeb, 2013), Kapoor is finally set to play a character that’s closer to the real him in 2 States—”It’s the first time I’m playing a normal boy, without any negative shades!” he says.
There’s more: Gunday, co-starring Ranveer Singh and Priyanka Chopra, will be a tribute to Hindi cinema with quintessential “dialogue-baazi and action,” while Homi Adajania’s Finding Fanny Fernandes promises “the madness of Being Cyrus, but in a quirky, fun way.”
Who: Ayushmann Khurrana
Breakthrough moment: Vicky Donor (2012)
How young: 29
He’s married to his childhood sweetheart of 13 years and is father to a one-year-old son, but to us, Ayushmann Khurrana will always be the charming slacker from Vicky Donor — a role that allowed him ample room to swing, sing and strum at our heartstrings.
After stints in theatre in his hometown Chandigarh, Khurrana worked as an RJ in Delhi and Mumbai before becoming a popular TV face. His film debut won him a bunch of awards — for acting and singing — and his sartorial sensibility hasn’t gone unnoticed either. You couldn’t have missed the bow ties, ladies.
He is now set to reunite with the Vicky Donor team for Hamara Bajaj, where he plays a struggling actor. He has also been roped in for Yash Raj Films’ next project (part of a three-film deal) for a “slice-of-life rom-com” with Sonam Kapoor.
In an industry of mixed messages, Khurrana’s guiding principle is to solely trust the director. “I go with the director’s vision, even if it is vastly different from my own.” A role he aspires to? “A dark character…something like Shah Rukh Khan in Darr (1993).”
What one can’t miss on meeting him is how impossibly good he is: neat as a pin, courteous and overtly respectful of his mentors. But there’s a naughty side to him that people haven’t seen, he throws in. “I love the illusion. It’s good to be mysterious at times.”
Who: Sushant Singh Rajput
Screen breakthrough: Kai Po Che (2013)
How young: 27
Sushant Singh Rajput was all set to chuck television stardom in favour of a filmmaking course at the University of California, Los Angeles, when he was selected as the lead in Abhishek Kapoor’s Kai Po Che. The film, where he played an enterprising cricket enthusiast, placed him prominently on the cinematic radar.
Before the big screen beckoned, Rajput trained with thespian Barry John for five years, after which producer Ekta Kapoor cast him as the lead in the daily soap, Pavitra Rishta. A fine actor, he’s also light on his feet: he performed with Shiamak Davar’s troupe at the 2006 Commonwealth Games and later dazzled on the dance-based reality show Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa 4, where he was first runner-up.
Finishing second, however, isn’t in his nature; he has never auditioned for a role he didn’t eventually bag. Kai Po Che, a film for which many a prominent actor auditioned, was his first step. Peekay (forthcoming in 2014) and Shuddh Desi Romance (2013) came right after. He is now on preparatory leave to play Bengali sleuth Byomkesh Bakshi in Dibakar Banerjee’s next.
Rajput is more cerebral than most of the young crop, and not just because he dropped out of the Delhi College of Engineering to make it in the movies. He speaks of things like “binary states” to explain how he prepares for a role. “There’s a bridge between you and the character. There’s a point when you’re not the character yet but you’re no longer yourself either. This is a confusing and chaotic state,” he says. “But it’s the best place to be. Anything can happen.”