100 Achievers In Cinema Who Symbolise India Tomorrow
India Today|January 03, 2022
Young achievers in cinema who symbolise india tomorrow
Suhani Singh


In the late ’80s, Sridevi reigned supreme; the noughties were all about Madhuri. 2010s have seen both the emergence— and the dominance—of Deepika Padukone. Given her upcoming line-up of films that feature co-stars like Shah Rukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan, Hrithik Roshan and Prabhas, Deepika is determined she won’t let the ongoing decade slip by.

An array of films showcase how much she has evolved as an actor. She can be a graceful diva lighting up the screen (the three collaborations with Sanjay Leela Bhansali), the charming mainstream heroine (Chennai Express, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani), the assured actor (Cocktail, Piku, Tamasha) and, more recently, a smart producer (Chhapaak, ’83). That her films fare well at the box office is an added incentive, making her one of the highest-paid and sought-after actresses in the industry. In a highly competitive world where actresses are made to settle for less, be it screen time or meaningful parts in big-budget spectacles, Deepika has ensured she works on her own terms.

The ability to wield such influence comes from learning from one’s mistakes. “I fell into that trap of what a heroine is expected to do and what she should look like,” she told India Today Woman a few years back. “It has been a journey of self-discovery.” History has time and again shown that careers of the biggest leading ladies come with a shelf life. Wiser and creatively hungrier, Deepika intends to be an exception. n

ANGEL INVESTOR Padukone has invested in companies such as Epigamia, Furlenco, Purpple and space start-up Bellatrix Aerospace


Actor/ director


Riddhi became one of the youngest actors to win the National Film Best Actor Award for his portrayal of a eunuch in Kaushik Ganguly’s Nagarkirtan when he was just 19. Still only 23, he has already worked with a number of notable directors including Aparna Sen, Sujoy Ghosh and Pradeep Sarkar, playing such varied roles as a helper at a tea stall in Kahaani, a debauched son in Parched and an adorable one who helps his mother find her creative identity in Helicopter Eela, and the war-ravaged orphan in Children of the War. Many of his films, such as Parched or B.R. Mishra’s Chauranga, were made with international collaboration and went on to win awards at the Locarno Film Festival. Apart from this, he also directed his first short film in 2020. Coldfire won the best short film award at the Miami International Science Fiction film festival. n

—Romita Datta

THE GASTRONOME Mother Reshmi caters to his fondness for international cuisine by cooking Continental, Mexican and Chinese dishes at home

The Bigger Cause

PA. RANJITH, 36, Film director

Pa. Ranjith’s influence on the cinematic and cultural landscape of Tamil Nadu in the past decade has been unlike that of any other film icon. Beginning with his debut film Atta Kathi in 2012 to his latest Sarpatta Parambarai, Ranjith has created brilliant films that have also been statements of Dalit assertion in Tamil cinema. His imprint is not just confined to films but is apparent in different spheres of culture through the many organisations he has helped set up, including the Neelam Cultural Centre, Neelam Productions and Nee lam Publications. His Neelam cultural centres now have branches and educational projects for Dalits across Tamil Nadu. He has also backed several new-wave filmmakers like Mari Selvaraj, Shyam Sunder, Manoj Leonel Johson and Athiyan Athirai through The Casteless Collective. His next film, Natchathiram Nagargirathu, is a romantic drama, and he’s also finalising a project with actor Vikram.

—Aditya Shrikrishna

SET APART Housing sets of Ranjith’s films like Madras can be traced back to the realist aesthetics of films like Chennai 600028 in which he worked as an assistant




Since his debut at 20 with the sleeper hit Pyaar Ka Punchnama (2011), Kartik Aaryan has gradually edged his way into becoming one of the leading young men of Hindi cinema. It’s all the more impressive given that the Gwalior-born actor didn’t have any connections in the Hindi film industry when he first landed in Mumbai as an 18-year-old. “There’s no second chance for me. It’s always been the only chance, film or character to prove myself,” he says. He capitalised on the few chances to effectively portray the angst of young Indian men in a string of friends-centred comedies—the two Pyaar Ka Punchnama films and Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety—and later expanded his fan base among the youth with Luka Chuppi and Pati, Patni aur Woh which touch on live-in relationships and adultery respectively. There’s been a conscious effort to try different genres and seek interesting directors to collaborate with. “Lots of people say, ‘Chalti gaadi ke engine ko mat chhedo (Don’t mess with the engine of a car that’s running well)”, he says. “But I have never thought of losses, I have always seen the silver lining.”

—Suhani Singh

FRAME AND FORTUNE Kartik’s first paycheck—Rs 1,500 for a commercial that he did— lies unspent as his parents have framed it



YouTuber/ actor/ singer

In 2015, when Bhuvan Bam began exploring a career as an entertainer on YouTube, friends and relatives laughed him off. But with 24.2 million subscribers for his YouTube channel BB ki Vines, a hit web series (Dhindora), a merchandise brand (Youthiapa), a short film (Plus Minus) and multiple interviews with stars under his belt, Bam is having the last laugh.

He is a clear example of the ability of video streaming to empower creators. Bam’s success comes courtesy his ability to develop a range of characters, many of whom are drawn from real life. Having grown up on the comedy of Govinda and Kader Khan, Bam focuses on the mundane, the little things that make his humour relatable. The sum of his talents, though, is best visible in Dhindora, an eight-episode series he has created, co-written and in which he plays 10 characters.

—Suhani Singh

LONELY TUNES Before becoming a YouTuber, Bam used to sing six days a week, four hours a day at a restaurant in south Delhi



Actor/ singer/ director

Dhanush has been at the top of his game for more than 10 years now. He found almost instant success with his second film, Kaadhal Kondein, directed by his brother, director Selvaraghavan. Except for a brief lull in the late 2000s when he was still in search of his niche, he’s not had a period when he wasn’t in the conversation with a truly original film. He may not have the market of his peers Ajith and Vijay, but his success is measured by his roles and collaborations that have come mainly with Selvaraghavan in his initial days, and now with strikingly original filmmakers like Vetrimaaran and Mari Selvaraj. He won his first National Award in 2010 for the Vetrimaaran film Aadukaalam and hasn’t looked back since. He is also the rare multi-hyphenated star actor in the mould of Kamal Haasan, a producer with a film that was India’s entry for Best International Feature in 2016—Visaaranai—and also on many occasions as a lyricist (Ilamai Thirumbudhe)/ singer (Why this Kolaveri Di)/ director (Pa. Paandi) who is just about to break loose. n

-Aditya Shrikrishna

FLASHBACKS Dhanush’s directorial debut, Pa. Paandi, starred Rajkiran in the lead. Rajkiran also acted in Dhanush’s father Kasthuri Raja’s debut film En Rasavin Manasile in 1991. The poster of that film can be seen in Vetrimaaran’s Vada Chennai, a film set in the 1980-’90s




Daughter of Malayalam film producer G. Suresh Kumar and Tamil actress Menaka, cinema ran in Keerthy’s blood. She appeared as a child actor in some of her father’s productions but then went on to study fashion design at the Pearl Academy in Chennai. Soon, however, she realised cinema was her true calling , and began acting in Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu cinema.

While her initial years as an actor were eclipsed by the heroes of the films (Rajini Murugan, Remo, Sarkar, Bairavaa), it was with the 2018 film Mahanati (The Great Actress) that she came into her own. A biopic of one of the greatest actors of Indian cinema—Savitri—casting Keerthy in the iconic role invited a lot of scepticism. Soon, however, Keerthy turned all her critics into believers, going on to win a national award for her performance. Mahanati paved the way for more titular and well-defined roles in Penguin, Miss India and Annaatthe. The Great Actress had, indeed, arrived.

— Aditya Shrikrishna

GREATEST COMMON FACTOR Keerthy’s mum Menaka was paired opposite Rajinikanth in Netrikann (1981). Keerthy now plays Rajini’s sister in Annaatthe (2021).

Chameleon King



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