Movies have story lines that revolve around main characters (the lead) but the development of any plot relies on the supporting cast. These supporting roles get highlighted but many a times the actors talent portraying them goes unnoticed. There are some splendid golden ladies in Bollywood whose talent alone has solidified them on the cinemas for more than three decades. We all have seen these actresses in some iconic roles and yet most of us can’t name them.
Here are nine underrated gems in Indian cinemas whose acting merits needs its recognition.
1. Surekha Sikri
The veteran actor of Hindi theatre, Surekha Sikri is a refined artist who has contributed to the field of acting for 4 decades now. Her film debut was with a political drama called Kissa Kursi Ka in 1978 and later her career progressed into Hindi television soap operas. Her portrayal of Dadisa in Balika Vadu remains the epitome of her skilled acting as she not only won the Best actress for a negative role but also won Best supporting actress for the same role in Indian Telly Awards, proving the diversity of her talent. This Underrated actress has bagged National Film Award for Best Supporting Actress three times and the latest being for Badhaai Ho in 2018.
2. Lillete Dubey
This stunning actress is in her late 60s but her zeal towards acting and her graceful beauty can fool anyone! Lillete Dubey is renowned theatre actor and a director with her own Theater company called The Primetime Theatre Company. She claims to be an ‘accidental actress’ but her exuberant supporting roles say otherwise. She is best known for her roles in movies like Kal Ho Na Ho, Baghban, Monsoon Wedding, Zubeida and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. This versatile actress is notable for her direction in the English play of Mahesh Dattani called Dance Like a Man which had a whopping 497 showcases all around the world.
3. Ratna Pathak Shah
Known for her witty roles and bold acting, Ratna Pathak Shah will always remain in our hearts as Mrs Sarabhai. Her debut movie was Mandi in the year 1983. She is a chameleon in her own accord, portraying characters from a being a socialite to a love-stricken woman. Her acting saw critical acclimation after her lead in the movie Lipstick Under My Burkha. This dark comedy won her an award for Standout Performance in London Asian Film Festival and Best Actress by News18 Movie Awards.
4. Neena Gupta
Neena Gupta became a sensation after her role of an older pregnant woman in the movie Badhaai ho. But her struggles as a supporting actress and her efforts in surviving as a 60-year-old actress in the Bollywood industry came forth after the Netflix web series called Masaba Masaba. This series that is loosely based on her own life beautifully enhances her experience as a Single Mother, a newly wed and her struggle as an underrated actress. The actress owns a theatre production company called Sahaj production. She has won Filmfare Critics Award and National Film Award for Best Actress and Supporting Actress respectively.
5. Supriya Pathak
Next on the list is our very own Hansa Behen! Supriya Pathak is another actress in this list who made place in the hearts of Indian audience as the innocent, lazy bahoo from the sitcom Khichdi. From there a 180 degree turn in her character portrayal was seen in the movie Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela where her role as Dhankor Baa was brought forth with a sharp vindictive bite and won her many Awards as Best actor in negative role. This specialized Bharatanatyam performer has also been part of French movies and Malayalam movies.
6. Shernaz Patel
Shernaz Patel is a talented beautiful actress who also comes in the umbrella of underrated actors. Her acting debut was via theater plays and her very first was the 1984 The Diary of Anne Frank. Her debut in cinemas was with the 1986 TV film Janam even with its success, it couldn’t launch the actress efficiently into the Hindi cinema. She is best known for her supporting roles in movies like Black, Guzaarish, Rockstar, Roy, and so on. She has made recent appearances in few of the mini web series.
7. Sheeba Chaddha
This actress is one such in the list who we all have seen in various roles in movies and have enjoyed the entertainment that comes along with her acting. Sheeba Chaddha can morph into any character given to her be it an urban modern mother or a rural nosy sister-in-law. Her oldest character role movie was Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and some of her other noteworthy roles were seen movies like Dum Laga Ke Haisha, Badhaai ho, Gully Boy, Shakuntala Devi, and so on.
8. Meghna Malik
Popularly known for her brilliant portrayal of a strong headed Ammaji from the Indian TV serial Na Aana Is Des Laado, Meghna Malik left an unwavering mark with her acting caliber. The actor was first seen in 2001 in the television show Yeh Hai Mumbai Meri Jaan and later her first debut film was Neel Parbat Ke Paar. Meghna Malik has tremendous potential but her appearances have limited to soap operas and movies like Chalte Chalte, Kuch Na Kaho, Vaastu Shastra, etc. She was recently seen in web series like Mirzapur and Bandish Bandits.
9. Shefali Shah
Staring in the International Emmy for Best Drama Series, Delhi Crime, Shefali shah bought the screenwriting to life with her character display potential of policewoman Vartika Chaturvedi. She launched her acting career in 1993 and entered TV soap in 1997. Her acting relies over subtility and silence which can clearly be seen in her role of a socialite housewife in the 2015 multi starer movie Dil Dhadakne Do. Her latest projects are mostly web series like Once again and Humans.
The entertainment industry is fast growing sector and these golden age ladies are resilient to be part of it. Though underrated, the actresses have proved time after time that true talent will always leave behind a mark. And we hope Indian audience is fortunate enough to see them more often on the big screens.