Farhan Akhtar in ‘Rock On!!’ & 5 Other Impressive Bollywood Acting Debuts

[Photo Source: Screenshot/Excel Entertainment]

It’s hard to imagine it’s been 10 entire years since “Rock On!!” premiered, and showed the world that Farhan Akhtar was great not only behind the camera but now in front of it.

“Rock On!!” was a chance for Bollywood lovers to see Farhan Akhtar act and sing for the first time. His natural talent was apparent, and fans felt as if he’d been acting since forever. Since “Rock On!!,” Farhan has proven the debut was no fluke, with impressive work in films such as “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag” and “Dil Dhadakne Do.”

Farhan’s wonderful work in “Rock On!!” is just one of the many iconic Bollywood acting debuts in Bollywood. These are the initial (or close to initial) films that really solidified the foundation of these actors’ careers today. Their first movie was a hit, and the rest is history!

Deepika Padukone – “Om Shanti Om”

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Deepika Padukone, a superstar and beloved actress of Hindi film industry, made her first appearance in Bollywood with the hit movie, “Om Shanti Om.” Alongside Shah Rukh Khan, her debut film grossed approximately $3.7 million just on opening night. This movie centralizes on reincarnation and avenging the truth, all in the name of love. The movie’s setting begins in the era of the 1970s: Om Prakash Makhija (SRK), a junior artist, falls in love with superstar “Dreamy Girl” Shanti Priya (Padukone). They grow close, but Shanti Priya is met with a tragic accident, and in an attempt to save her, Om Prakash Makhija dies along with her.

The film is then fast forwarded to approximately 30 years later, and the two are reincarnated. The roles are reversed, however, this time; and Om Prakash Makhija is now Om Kapoor, a Bollywood superstar born into a wealthy and famous family, and Shanti Priya is portrayed as Sandy, a “normal” girl looking for any opportunity to meet Om Kapoor. Their destined meeting brings them together to bring justice to the terrible and unfathomable deaths they faced in their past lives.

With several hit songs and epic dialogues from this film, Deepika Padukone rose to stardom quickly. After “Om Shanti Om,” she came out with several other blockbuster hits such as “Padmaavat,” “Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela,” “Piku,” and “Happy New Year.” Deepika Padukone has even begun her career in Hollywood by debuting in the industry with her role in “xXx: Return of Xander Cage.”

Ileana D’Cruz – “Barfi!”


“Barfi!” is a 2012 comedy-drama film that was India’s selected entry for Best Foreign Language Film. This movie is “different” than other Bollywood fares, because it takes a community of people and their lifestyles, and then portrays it through comedy and tons of emotion. “Barfi!” made about $25 million in the box office, and was a hit film talked about weeks and months after its release.

The message it sends and awareness it spreads about the deaf community is what makes this movie unique. Ileana D’Cruz held a leading role in this film along with Priyanka Chopra and Ranbir Kapoor; D’Cruz won the Filmfare Award for Best Female Debut and has since then been in Rustom with Akshay Kumar and Baadshaho with Ajay Devgn.

Aditya Roy Kapoor – “Aashiqui 2”

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This is the romantic movie Bollywood NEEDED. Aditya Roy Kapoor plays a singer who falls in love but suddenly finds himself losing his success, fame, and well…everything. While technically this isn’t Kapoor’s official Bollywood debut, this movie put him front and center as the leading man for the first time, and it showed his incredible talent by forcing him to slowly lose himself on camera. At first, he is a suave heartthrob (not hard for him to do, I am sure. I mean have you seen him?!). But slowly we had to watch Kapoor’s character, Rahul, fall apart just as he finds the love of his life.

The character was complex, vulnerable, and intense. “Aashiqui 2” became a super hit, collecting 52.5 million on its opening day, not to mention the wonderful soundtrack that no one could get out of their head. But more importantly, the movie brought back the romance and heartbreak Hindi cinema was missing.

Parineeti Chopra – “Ladies Vs. Ricky Bahl”

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Parineeti Chopra, now not only known as an actress but also known for her hit song “Maana Ke Hum Yaar Nahin” from “Mere Pyaari Bindu,” made her debut in the film “Ladies Versus Ricky Bahl.” She was not the leading actress in this film but won many awards for her role as a supporting and debut actress at IIFA, Screen Awards, Filmfare, Stardust, and the Zee Cine Awards.

Parineeti portrayed a girl named Dimple Chaddha and her character’s story was featured in the beginning part of the film, and she then returns closer to the end of the film. Her role in this movie leads her to star in many other movies such as her first role as the lead, including “Ishaqzaade,” “Shuddh Desi Romance,” and “Hasee Toh Phasee.”

Ayushmann Khurrana – “Vicky Donor”

With movies like “Padman” releasing these days, Indian cinema has to be applauded for trying to create a conversation about typically taboo concepts. 2012’s “Vicky Donor” is about a man who becomes the biggest sperm donor for a fertility clinic. A witty and intelligent comedy that deals with an issue that could be sensitive to many, Khurrana’s acting was natural and comfortable even though the topic was so raw.

“Vicky Donor” was received positively by Indian audiences, collecting 41 crores on the first day. This movie was refreshing and a wonderful start for Ayushmann Khurrana, who has gone on to make great films like “Bareilly Ki Barfi,” and even more movies about sensitive topics like “Shubh Mangal Savdhan,” which touches on the subject of erectile dysfunction and the idea of manhood.

[Read Related: ‘Dil Se’ Turns 20 Years Old: We Celebrate Bollywood’s Tragic Love Stories]

With “Rock On” turning 10, it is fascinating to look back at the impressive debuts made by popular actors and actresses. Many of these roles were complex or difficult, yet the talent served it with grace. These projects made them the stars they are today. These debuts just… Well… Rock!

‘The Romantics’: Revisiting the Legacy and Grandeur of Yash Chopra With Filmmaker Smriti Mundhra

The Romantics

If you are a South Asian, born in the ’80s or the early ’90s, chances are your ideas of love and romance are heavily influenced by Hindi films — that first gaze, the secret love notes, that accidental meeting somewhere in Europe, over-the-top gestures and dancing around trees. While reality may have been far from what was promised on reel, you still can’t stop pining over a hopeless romantic, with chocolate boy looks, chasing you across the earth and many universes; in the life here and the ones after. Somewhere deep down, you still dream of that possibility despite your husband sitting and sipping his morning coffee right next to you. And much of the credit for weaving this dreamland, that we can’t resist happily sliding into, goes to the legendary Yash Chopra. Award-winning filmmaker Smriti Mundhra’s docu-series, “The Romantics,” that released on Netflix on February 14, chronicles Chopra’s prolific career; offering an illuminating look into the highs and lows of his journey, his unblemished vision for Hindi cinema and sheer love for filmmaking. 

I wanted to look at Indian cinema through the lens of it being a major contributor to the global cinema canon and Yash Chopra seemed like the perfect lens to explore that because of the longevity of his career and the fact that he had worked across so many different genres. His films, for so many of us, defined what Hindi cinema is.

— Smriti Mundhra

As “The Romantics” unveils, in a mere episode — a challenging feat in itself — Chopra did experiment with multiple genres as a budding filmmaker, initially under the shadows of his elder brother B.R. Chopra. From the religiously sensitive “Dharamputra” and the trendsetting “Waqt” to the action-packed and iconic “Deewaar.” It wasn’t until later on in his career that he set a precedent for a Hindi film having a wholly romantic narrative; though “Waqt” did offer the perfect glimpse into what would go on to become Chopra’s cinematic imprint. And then came “Chandni” which ushered in a new era for Hindi cinema; defying the formulaic approach to box office success and making love stories the golden goose.

In the words of more than 30 famous faces, a host of archival videos and interviews, and personal anecdotes, audiences get an extensive insight into the life and career of Yash Chopra and the evolution of his vision through the business acumen and genius of his polar opposite son and a famous recluse, Aditya Chopra. “The Romantics” is not a fancy portrait of a legendary filmmaker but an exploration of what goes into making a successful film family and a path-breaking production house. As viewers, we not only get a peek into the making of a fantasy creator but also learn of the many failures, hurdles and uncertainties that the business of filmmaking comes packaged in, the impact of socio-political shifts on the kind of content being produced and demanded, and just how much control we have as an audience over the fate of the film and the filmmaker.

For both the uninitiated and fanatics, there are some interesting revelations like Shah Rukh Khan’s lifelong desire to become an action hero as opposed to a romantic one and the creative conflict between Aditya Chopra and his father Yash Chopra on the sets of “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jaayenge” — a project that, surprisingly, did not seem too promising to the latter. Mundhra penetrates deep into the family’s history and industry relationships evoking some really candid conversations; almost as if these celebs were eagerly waiting for their moment to speak. With one appraising interview after the other, it’s a panegyric that does border on being a tad tedious but there is enough depth and fodder in there to keep one hooked. Kudos to Mundhra for managing to achieve cohesion despite there being more than enough material to chew on. In the process of bringing this project to life, Mundhra also ends up achieving a number of milestones: one that the series features the last of actor Rishi Kapoor’s interviews and two, it brings Aditya Chopra, who, it appears, can talk a blue streak contrary to popular belief, to the front of the camera after almost two decades. The moment when he puts the nepotism debate to rest by referring to his brother’s catastrophic attempt at acting is quite the show-stealer.


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At some point during the four-episode series, you might question if it’s fair to credit the Yash Raj family for being the only real changemakers of the Hindi film industry and for picking up the baton to get Hindi cinema the global recognition that it has. But then there is no denying the Chopra clan’s body of work, their ability to understand what pleases the crowd and their commitment towards growth and progress amidst changing times and technology — Yash Raj Studios is in fact the only privately held and one of the biggest, state-of-the-art film studios in India. Chopra’s career and legacy are in no way under-lit that Mundhra can claim to throw new light on with “The Romantics.” But what she really has on offer here are sheer nostalgia, some fascinating discoveries and an ode to a cinephile and his art with a bit of fan service.

In an interview with Brown Girl Magazine, Mundhra discusses why it was so important for Chopra to be the subject of her docu-series, her own learnings during the series’ research and creative process and her accomplishment of getting Aditya Chopra to talk, and that too, at length.

By Nida Hasan

Editor by profession, writer by passion, and a mother 24/7, Nida is a member of Brown Girl Lifestyle's editing team … Read more ›