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Why these Bollywood stars shied away from non-commercial films

Several actors have given alternative cinema a chance, only to go scampering back to masala films

There are actors who venture out of their comfort zones and then there are those who want to play it safe. And while the former option sounds very exciting, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

Emraan Hashmi may have chosen to go off the beaten track with the film, Shanghai, but he is now content doing mainstream films, as they help him earn his bread and butter
Emraan Hashmi may have chosen to go off the beaten track with the film, Shanghai, but he is now content doing mainstream films, as they help him earn his bread and butter

Indeed, some actors have successfully straddled both worlds of cinema – the commercial and the art house variety. But there’s also a segment of names out there who tried to make inroads in alternative cinema only to come back to their forte: commercial (read: masala) films.

Vidya Balan may have starred in many women-oriented projects, but after Kahaani, she has apparently shied away from non-commercial films
Vidya Balan may have starred in many women-oriented projects, but after Kahaani, she has apparently shied away from non-commercial films

Money over acclaim
An instance that comes to mind is Emraan Hashmi. The actor said in a recent interview that while he has done some serious films in his career (Dibakar Banerjee’s Shanghai is one such film), he is now returning to commercial cinema with Raja Natwarlal.

Akshay Kumar is known to have done several out-and-out action and comedy films. Till date, he hasn’t veered off course except the one time when he joined  hands with Nagesh Kukunoor for the film, 8X10 Tasveer
Akshay Kumar is known to have done several out-and-out action and comedy films. Till date, he hasn’t veered off course except the one time when he joined hands with Nagesh Kukunoor for the film, 8X10 Tasveer

The serial kisser even admitted that it’s the commercial films that help him earn his bread and butter. Turns out that despite getting good reviews, Shanghai didn’t recover its money and the actor decided to stay away from offbeat cinema since then.

Shah Rukh Khan
Shah Rukh Khan and Rani Mukerji starred in Amol Palekar’s Paheli, but post that, both have chosen mass entertainers over such films 

In his career spanning over two decades, Akshay Kumar is known to have done several out-and-out action and comedy films. Till date, he hasn’t veered off course except the one time when he joined hands with Nagesh Kukunoor for the film, 8X10 Tasveer.

Rani Mukerji

The film was stuck for quite some time and the title, Tasveer, was changed because it was considered to be jinxed. To add to this, when it finally released, it garnered negative reactions from both audiences as well as the critic. This meant that the actor learnt that non-commercial cinema was not for him. Since then, he has gone back to doing masala films.

Renowned painter MF Husain managed to get Madhuri Dixit to star in his first film, Gaja Gamini. On her part, she has avoided offbeat cinema since then
Renowned painter MF Husain managed to get Madhuri Dixit to star in his first film, Gaja Gamini. On her part, she has avoided offbeat cinema since then

Learning their lessons
Among actresses, Kareena Kapoor debuted at age of 20 with Refugee. After the initial phase of her career where she did a few commercial films, she decided to give offbeat dramas a chance. As a result, films such as Chameli, Dev and Omkara followed. And while she did win appreciation for having taken up these films at an early stage in her career, she did a rethink later on. Now the actress is open about her preference for masala films.

Kareena Kapoor decided to give offbeat dramas a chance. But later on, she went back to doing masala entertainers
Kareena Kapoor decided to give offbeat dramas a chance. But later on, she went back to doing masala entertainers and After Homi Adjania’s film, Being Cyrus, Saif Ali Khan too preferred to stay away from alternative cinema

Similarly, over a decade ago, Shah Rukh Khan and Rani Mukerji had starred in Amol Palekar’s Paheli, but SRK realised that he wanted to go back to delivering blockbuster hits.

Sonakshi Sinha displayed her acting skills in Vikram Motwane’s Lootera. But the film didn’t win any awards and interestingly, Sona has not taken on any alternative film project after that
Sonakshi Sinha displayed her acting skills in Vikram Motwane’s Lootera. But the film didn’t win any awards and interestingly, Sona has not taken on any alternative film project after that

Failed experiments?
Sonakshi Sinha displayed her acting skills in Vikramditya Motwane’s Lootera. The film did good business at the box office and even garnered a lot of praise from the critics. That said, it didn’t win any awards, a fact that had the cast and crew all riled up. Snubbed at most award dos, Sonakshi and co-star Ranveer Singh took to social networking sites where they expressed their displeasure. And then they both gladly moved on to starring in mainstream cinema.

Saif Ali Khan took a risk by featuring in Homi Adjania’s maiden project Being Cyrus, as it was an English film. Encouraged by the response, he played an intense character in Omkara. And while this role was also well-appreciated, Saif seemed to have had enough with alternative cinema. Since then, the actor hasn’t taken up any such films.

Vidya Balan may have starred in many women-oriented projects, but post Kahaani, she has apparently shied away from non-commercial films. The National Award-winning actress’s recent filmography, which has masala films like The Dirty Picture, Ghanchakkar and Bobby Jasoos, reiterates this.

Safe formula
Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Black is easily among Rani Mukerji’s most acclaimed films. But when the film did average business at the box office, the actress went back to the song and dance routine and didn’t look back.

An ardent admirer of Madhuri Dixit, renowned painter MF Husain managed to get her to star in his first film, Gaja Gamini. The film was supposed to be ode to the actress but it turned out to be a disaster. She hasn’t signed any offbeat film since.

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