The A-C of Bollywood Belles

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I recall reading an article once about Cannes in the Times Sunday magazine. In the article they talked about how Cannes was the breeding ground for the Hollywood starlet – a C-grade actress, getting maximum public exposure.

It’s times like these that I am grateful that Bollywood doesn’t have quite the clout Hollywood has. While it is a recognised industry everywhere, it still doesn’t have the same popularity as Hollywood.

The reason I am grateful are the C-grade actresses of Bollywood. For the most part I have trouble accepting A-grade actresses in Indian cinema. I think most Indian actresses are over-exposed, self-publicising junkies who very rarely act and mostly play the same character again and again. C-grade actresses in Bollywood are even worse, and when it comes to being attention-seekers they could outrun a Hollywood starlet any day.

I speak of the Celina Jaitleys, Esha Deols and Lara Duttas of Bollywood. They are mediocre actresses at a push who have acquired a name courtesy of lineage, titles, and lack thereof clothing. Don’t believe me?!

Esha Deol was barely treading the rough seas of Bollywood when Dhoom came along. Massive hit. The reason for the success – fast bikes and fast girls. This was Bollywood’s answer to The Fast and the Furious. In the film, there she was – a toned Esha who was scantily clad. Her break in Bollywood came courtesy of her mother, Hema Malini, who in her time reined the box office, and her father Dharmendra. I believe this was something that was commented upon at a film event at which Dharmendra apparently reprimanded the perpetrator. Esha, without her parents, would not have stood a chance in Bollywood because she doesn’t have the acting chops or the looks to be an A-grade Bollywood actress.

Celina Jaitley doesn’t have anything in the way of solo commercial success. She was introduced in Janasheen as the bikini-clad violinist, and having seen the bad excuse for a film, I would say she lacked in the acting department. But that is forgivable. It was her first film and people improve over time. That, however, was not the case for Celina. If anything she appears slightly more polished and groomed, but overall, she is still a disaster.

People will be surprised at my reference to Lara Dutta because she has given quite a few successes and has at times delivered good performances. But for the most part, I find her lacklustre, talentless, and pretentious (something that comes through in all her performances). Reviewers raved about her appearance in Jhoom Barabar Jhoom and having watched her French and foul-mouthed avatar, I can say I wasn’t impressed by either. Her French avatar deeply troubled me since it suggests that film-makers in India perceive the French to be like that, and her foul mouthed avatar just seemed forced.

I have singled out these three as examples, but most of Bollywood today is filled with C-grade actresses, especially the ones from the new generation. Very little of Bollywood has the powerhouse talent that it had in the decades gone by. It is sad to see that the increase in media has just resulted in an influx of talentless one-to-no-hit wonders.

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