The heroes and heroines of Bollywood have a personal branding that always seem larger than life. Their beauty, charm, wit and persona is dissected and critiqued with utmost precision. However, not all of them fit the mould of their times. Some of them have been quite unconventional. Especially among the leading ladies, there is a barrage of actresses who are considered to be a bit hatke. This list is a compilation of actresses over the years who have been considered unconventional for various reasons.
#1. Parveen Babi
She was a leading lady of great repute in the 70s and 80s. She rose to fame on the basis of her inimitable charm and goddess-like looks. With an aquiline nose and big eyes, she defied the tradition by being a liberated woman amongst many of her contemporaries, who were slotted as the homely type. She was of a bohemian nature, and often did things that were considered taboo in Indian society at that time. She was definitely a one-of-a-kind woman and we have not seen anyone like her till now.
#2. Smita Patil
Smita Patil was a newsreader in Bombay (now Mumbai), before a film director spotted her on T.V. and decided to cast her in a film. She routinely acted in films that had substance, and very rarely did commercial entertainers. However, several of her films did brisk business even though they were not considered commercial. Her unconventional ways included her subdued sensuality and ability to emote with her eyes. She is still remembered today as a beauty and screen legend even though she acted in a limited number of films before her untimely death.
#3. Zeenat Aman
Zeenat was a girl who was born with raw beauty and dollops of sensuality and panache. She was one of the first sex sirens of Bollywood along with Parveen Babi, and they both represented the hippie culture more often than not in movies. They were great pin-up models of their times as well. Zeenat was famous for flaunting her curves in sexy dresses at a time when heroines usually did not wear anything other than a saree. She was, and still is, considered one of the most beautiful women in the world.
#4. Shabana Azmi
She was the antithesis of Smita Patil. Although Shabana was not praised as much for her beauty, her work routinely got her noticed. And at one point of time, she acted in several projects of international repute. She was unconventional because of her choice of films, which were serious and gritty dramas always. At that time, it was rare to come across such an actress. Shabana even worked in some successful commercial films that worked well with the masses.
She is originally from the South and was considered boyish and unladylike during the beginning of her career. But slowly as years went by, people came to recognise Tabu as a hardcore actress with legendary prowess in terms of her on-screen histrionics. She has come a long way since, and has acted in numerous international film projects that have done well. She has also found a foothold in the South Indian film industry and commands the kind of respect that is reserved for senior and accomplished actors. She continues to act in path-breaking films even when many of her contemporaries have retired.
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#6. Rani Mukerji
This dusky beauty was considered a girl-next-door when she debuted. She had to struggle quite a bit, but slowly rose to the top of the game in a span of a few years. She has won numerous accolades throughout her career. She was the number one heroine in Bollywood for quite some years before she finally got married and settled down. She bounced back again recently with a woman-centric film and broke conventions because she has reached a stage where most of the actresses retire into their domestic life. She has also started her own production company, and will probably launch a few movies in the coming years.
Having done so many powerful roles on-screen, this diva is all set for a truly amazing one in real life too. Read: Rani Mukerji And Aditya Chopra Expecting Their First Child, Rani Flaunts Her Baby Bump
#7. Bipasha Basu
She restarted the trend of bold and demanding women on-screen with the reign of power in their hands. She is known for her sensuality, which comes across beautifully on the big screen. She was one of the first actresses to start doing lovemaking scenes on-screen. She also had no inhibitions about skin show and flaunts her curves with style. Although it has been a while since she starred in a movie that mattered, we wish for her to bounce back soon.
#8. Konkona Sen Sharma
She is a multi-talented actress with lots of charisma and style. Like her predecessors, Konkona also insists on working in films with a script that is believable and rooted in reality. Rarely does she give her nod to commercial films. She is unconventional because in today’s time when all the actresses are judged mostly for their beauty, Konkona stands apart, proud and tall, having achieved everything based on professional merit and not just looks.
Also read about another yesteryear Bollywood diva: 10 Interesting Facts About Bollywood Diva Rekha That We Bet You Did Not Know
#9. Chitrangada Singh
Although she has not done as many films as most of the ladies in this list, she has still managed to make an impression on the audience’s minds and has a steadily increasing fan base. She has done a few independent films that did good business. She is known for her unconventional roles and characters. We hope that she finds something noteworthy to star in soon.
#10. Kalki Koechlin
From being labelled as the angrez chick to being one of the most respected actresses of her times, Kalki Koechlin, has come a long way. She entered Bollywood with a storm, riding high on the success of the movie, Dev D. And, she took one off-beat role after another, which most actresses shied away from. The actress, who at one point was ridiculed for her features including her teeth, has successfully carved a niche for herself and commands a huge fan following, especially among the younger generation.
#11. Richa Chadda
This list would not be complete if we did not include ‘Bholi Punjaban‘ from Fukrey aka Richa Chadda’s name here. The sultry actress, who broke all the moulds with her steller acting in Anurag Kashyap’s cult movie, Gangs Of Wasseypur-I portrayed a character which ages from 16 to 60! Now that is some risk, especially for a new actress to take so early in her career. But richa Chadda nailed it and reserved a space for herself in the hearts of the audience. Her recently released movie, Masaan solidified her position as beauty with brains, as the movie has been earning critical acclaim and recognition worldwide.
All the actresses in this list were considered unconventional at one point of time during their careers. But, they broke down the barriers that tried to stop their rise and emerged victorious!