Hero by Character

Vidya Balan

With filmmakers giving them more prominence than ever, supporting actors are the new stars

With Vidya Balan leading the charge in Kahaani, the spotlight may have been on her, but she had to share it with the competent cast of the film. Actor Saswata Chaterjee aka Bob Biswas gave the film some of its chilling moments; friendly Inspector Rana, played by Parambrata Chatterjee, charmed the audience and Nawazuddin.

Siddiqui's portrayal of a tough cop added spark to the thriller.

With the success of this Sujoy Ghosh-directed film, the brilliance of supporting cast has become the talk of the town. This trend of character actors winning accolades has been building up for some years now. The role of R Madhavan and Kangna Ranaut's best friends in Tanu Weds Manu, played by Deepak Dobriyal and Swara Bhaskara respectively, won hearts. Brijendra Kala as the news reporter in Paan Singh Tomar was impressive while in Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl, Parineeti Chopra and Aditi Sharma collected more compliments than the lead actors.

"Getting praise for our work is a great feeling for actors like us, who have struggled for almost 10 years to get noticed," says Siddiqui, who was also praised for his brief role in Peepli Live. He will soon be seen in Anurag Kashyap's Gangs of Wasseypur and Reema Kagti's Talaash.

Director Rajkumar Gupta believes that the prominence to the supporting cast has been brought about, thanks to the changing landscape of Indian cinema. "Today, subjects are real or at least quasi-real. In such a scenario, you need the presence of regular people in the lives of your main protagonists," says Gupta, director of Aamir and No One Killed Jessica (NOKJ).

Bejoy Nambiar, the director of critically-acclaimed movie Shaitan, agrees that it is the content in films that has elevated the position of the actor and the focus has shifted beyond the protagonists. "Character actors have always been present in Hindi films, but they were just few and far between. Today, every film has characters that are crucial to the plot," he says.

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