5 Bollywood Actors Who Reinvented Themselves For A Role

Published by Shah Shahid on

‘Badlapur’ is the latest thriller from Director Sriram Raghavan featuring Varun Dhawan in a role that goes against the grain of his established image in Bollywood. While only 4 films old, Dhawan has thus far been features as romantically charming and funny character in popcorn entertainers. In ‘Badlapur’ Dhawan completely revamps his image into a gruff, bearded older man with nothing to lose, on a rampage of revenge.

While Bollywood actors, are not as hardcore as Hollywood actors when it comes to revamping their lifestyle or physical appearance for a particular role, there have been many Bollywood actors who have undergone tremendous transformations, or gone against their established image within the industry for a specific role. Here are 5 Bollywood Actors who have reinvented themselves by choosing roles that are dramatically different from their previous ones.

Shahid Kapoor in ‘Kaminey’

Shahid Kapoor

Only appearing as romantic leads in comedies or various ensemble cast films, Shahid Kapoor debuted as a romantic hero in ‘Ishq Vishk’ and didn’t deviate much from that leading man image in Bollywood, until Vishal Bhardwaj’s ‘Kaminey’. Living up the title, Kapoor deviates from his pretty boy roles as a scruffy criminal spouting vulgarities and beating on people. The movie and his performance garnered critical praise and it was one of the rare times he was taken seriously as an actor. The actor didn’t experience much success after ‘Kaminey’, until he switched things up again with the same director’s ‘Haider’ in 2014 to massive critical and commercial success.

Saif Ali Khan in ‘Omkara’

Saif Ali Khan

After a lot of success playing the tried and tested ‘hero’ of Bollywood roles like in ‘Salaam Namaste’ and ‘Hum Tum’, Saif Ali Khan decided to take a stab at proper acting by being the dark horse in a Vishal Bhardwaj directed adaptation of Shakespeare’s ‘Othello’ with ‘Omkara’. The usually urban and contemporary actor de-glamorizes himself, adopts a regional accent and delivers vulgarities with such menacing ease, that in a cast of major accomplished actors, Khan steals the show as Langda.

Abhishek Bachchan in ‘Yuva’

Abhishek Bachchan

Debuting and then starring in a string of flops, legendary actor Amitabh Bachchan’s son was accused of tarnishing the reputation of his father by being a horrible actor. In hindsight, Abhishek Bachchan was only just finding himself and getting comfortable as an actor, given his amazing body of work since. But the turning point came with a Mani Ratnam film in 2004, in which he was part of an ensemble cast, but stood out significantly. Playing Lallan, the Junior Bachchan played a greasy low-level political thug under his brother’s influence who had to find his place in the world. ‘Yuva’ was the first time that Abhishek Bachchan’s performance was appreciated, and given it was among performances by other veterans like Rani Mukherji & Ajay Devgan, it is that much more commendable.

Salman Khan in ‘Tere Naam’

Salman Khan

While not known for reinventing the wheel when it comes to his film roles, there have been times when Salman Khan has done the unpredictable. Needing some freshness in his movies after a string of high caliber fluff, in 2003 Khan dons a weird hairpiece, stars opposite a no name actress in a small budget film with a story that paints him almost as a villain. While at its core a love story, ‘Tere Naam’ was different and surprising, mostly for the superstar’s restraint and subdued performance, which was rare from him at the time. His look was a drastic change from the norm, especially in the later scenes where he sports a shaved head as a mental patient.

Sanjay Dutt in ‘Agneepath’

Sanjay Dutt

Sanjay Dutt is one of the fewest actors in Bollywood who has played a variety of roles ranging from the typical romantic lead, the older mentor, the comic relief, menacing villain and probably the first anti-hero with ‘Khalnayak’, and has experimented with his appearance for each role just as much. However his most recent shocking portrayal came with a remake to classic movie in Karan Malhotra’s ‘Agneepath’ (2012). While always maintaining a good physique, Dutt bulked up heavily for the role, removed all facial hair and sported a baldhead that added to the viscously menacing role he portrayed in the film. Dutt’s look gave the story of the film a physically intimidating villain that is rarely seen in Bollywood.

Which of these roles is your favorite? Did I forget any other dramatic transformations of other Bollywood actors? Let me know in the comments below.

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Shah Shahid

Entertainment Writer | Film & TV Critic | Bollywood Blogger | Host of Split Screen Podcast | Proud Geek Girl Dad


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