No matter what your opinion of the overall quality of 2009’s releases, there’s no question that the year heralded some notable first performances from a new crop of actors. Without further ado, here are BollySpice’s picks for Newcomers of 2009:
Shazahn Padamsee – Rocket Singh – Salesman of the Year
Her debut might have been barely touched upon in the reviews for Rocket Singh – Salesman of the Year, but Ranbir Kapoor’s co-star has no intention of remaining obscure. She recently confided to Oneindia, “I’ve been auditioning for almost two to two and a half years now.” That kind of persistence, combined with the expert guidance of her “momager” Sharon Prabhakar (“She will not rest till she sees me climb the ladder of success”) and her girl-next-door prettiness, are what might make Shazahn not just a newcomer, but a long-laster.
Aamna Sharif – Aloo Chaat
Aamna is no stranger to acting, having risen to fame on the popular drama Kahiin To Hoga, but her first film Aloo Chaat required a whole new skill set. “I have never spoken Punjabi in my life, though for some reasons Robby thought that I would know the language. I was never even informed about the Punjabi ‘gidda’ sequence in the film. I think it came in later.” Despite the film’s less-than-impressive reviews, no one seeing Aamna’s onscreen confidence during the “gidda” can doubt her abilities.
Vaishali Desai – Kal Kissne Dekha
She’s smart, college-educated in fact, but that doesn’t mean this debutante scorned the shiny pretty world of Mumbai. “Even with my studies, I was related to the glamour industry in some way or the other. Later, I did theater and also one month course at Anupam Kher’s academy. I did walk the ramp as well though honestly, all this while I wasn’t looking at modeling as a stepping stone towards working as an actress in movies.” Her hard work and dancing lessons paid off with her first film role in Kal Kissne Dekha. Despite Rishi Kapoor and Sanjay Dutt’s presence, the movie flopped, but Vaishali garnered good notices.
Jacqueline Fernandez – Aladin
Having secured her first film with her self-described “first and worst” audition, the Aladin actress is living a charmed life. The former Miss Sri Lanka is already preparing for her next film Jaane Kahan Se Aaye Ho Tum (also opposite her Aladin co-star Riteish Deshmukh). No one seeing her gorgeous face can downplay her onscreen presence.
Shruti Hassan – Luck
She sings! She models! She composes! And, as befits the daughter of Kamal Hassan and Sarika, she acts too! Sure, Luck wasn’t very lucky at the box office, but the versatile Shruti isn’t sulking. She’s already finished her self-titled solo album. And after all, anyone with the confidence to wear a bikini in her first real movie role clearly isn’t lacking in guts.
Jackky Bhagnani – Kal Kissne Dekha
Vaishali Desai’s debut film was Jackky’s too, but the latter had much more weight to carry in the storyline. Of course, he was no stranger to the industry, as the son of Vashu Bhagnani – and as the associate producer of three previous films. It’s no surprise that reviewers have put us on notice that he’s “one to watch.” Perhaps his remake of Accepted will show us what he’s got.
Mahi Gill – Dev D
Dev D‘s Paro faced the formidable task of taking a literary icon and making her both modern and sympathetic. Most agree, she nailed it, and in her first film too. It’s no wonder that Anurag Kashyap has already signed her for his follow-up film, nor is it surprising that she’s co-starring with Irrfan Khan and Shreyas Talpade in her next two releases.
Kalki Koechlin – Dev D
The doormat from Devdas needed a makeover, and Anurag Kashyap’s girlfriend was just right for the part. Besides the obvious – she’s gori, for those of you who spent 2009 under a rock – the Pondicherry native was a standout for another reason: the outward fragility and inner strength combined that she brought to the role. Of course, her fine mind will help ensure Kalki’s staying power – she’s also won The Hindu Metro Playwright Award with Prashant Prakash.
Omi Vaidya – 3 Idiots
It’s not often that an aspiring NRI actor is told to avoid learning Hindi, but Omi Vaidya managed to turn those instructions (from his producers) to his advantage with his Bollywood debut. The American-born actor is better known to U.S. audiences as Sadiq from The Office. However, in his first Hindi film 3 Idiots, he took a turn as the fourth idiot, Silencer. He doesn’t want to be the next Johnny Lever and fears being typecast, but will one brief comedy sequence transition into a true Bollywood career? Only time will tell.