For decades, Bollywood has maintained a stranglehold over the professional careers of actors who deserved much more than what they received from the Mumbai-centred film industry. Actors from small towns and villages, without any blood relations with the high and mighty hegemons of Bollywood hardly cut in Mumbai. Even if they did, their careers were more gruelling than they should have been. Nobody needs to struggle the life out of themselves to make it big in any professional line. However, Bollywood grew infamous for the same. While ordinary yet brilliant actors struggled to make a living, influential, powerful and well-connected star kids were given whatever roles they desired on a silver platter, despite the mediocrity of their acting. But that is now changing.
With the advent of OTT platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney Hotstar and others, a new wave of cinematic talent, previously unknown to audiences, has been unleashed in India. Currently, OTT platforms are overflowing with extraordinary talent. What is admirable about the OTT stars is that they are all impressing the audiences with their performances, and all of them have humble beginnings. Hardly any of the actors taking lead roles in OTT series and films have a star-family connection. They are all ordinary people, who made it big only because of their talent and hard work.
More and more Indians are shifting to OTT platforms to enjoy good cinema. The rise of OTT platforms has only been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, and now, even films of “superstars” are being released on such platforms. Yet, Indian audiences have witnessed the actual talent, and those who know acting have nothing to fear any longer. Their work speaks for itself. Several actors who have appeared on OTT platforms are making fans across India at an unprecedented pace.
Jaideep Ahlawat has been around for quite some time. Jaideep completed his graduation from the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune in 2008. After completing his education, he headed to Mumbai, to pursue his dreams of becoming an actor. He started his career in Bollywood with a small role in a short film called “Narmeen” in 2008. Ahlawat was first noticed by audiences with his role of Shahid Khan in the film Gangs of Wasseypur. Hailing from Rohtak in Haryana, Jaideep Ahlawat made a name for himself with his role in the controversial web series Paatal Lok. Before Paatal Lok, Ahlawat’s work in Netflix’s Bard of Blood was also highly appreciated.
Pratik Gandhi has made Indians his fans with his performance in the biographical drama Scam 1992, where he plays the role of stockbroker Harshad Mehta. Gandhi was born in Surat to parents who were teachers. He graduated in Industrial Engineering from Pune University and started working as an engineer in Reliance Industries in the daytime and doing theatre in the evening. Pratik Gandhi has been a part of many Gujarati films. His career in Hindi cinema has just begun, and the man has a lot to offer and has many fans already owing to his brilliant acting skills.
Sumeet Vyas has been on the scene since the times of TVF. The Viral Fever is a YouTube offering that went tremendously famous around 2014, when the web series Permanent Roommates, starring Sumeet Vyas went sensationally viral. It was the second most-viewed long-form web series in the world by June 2015. Most recently, Sumeet Vyas impressed audiences with his role in Amazon Prime’s Unpaused. Sumeet Vyas was born in Jodhpur, Rajasthan. Vyas is an active supporter of theatre and claims to enjoy working as a theatre artist rather than in Bollywood.
Kirti Kulhari is another actor who has made a name for herself by working for OTT platforms. Kulhari started her film acting career in Bollywood with Khichdi: The Movie, which was released in October 2010. Kulhari was noticed as an actress for her second film, Shaitan, which was released in June 2011. In 2019, Kulhari appeared in the web television series Four More Shots Please on Amazon Prime and Bard of Blood on Netflix. In 2020, Kirti’s role in Criminal Justice: Behind Closed Doors alongside Pankaj Tripathi received tremendous acclaim as well.
While studying civil engineering at IIT Kharagpur, Jitendra Kumar started liking acting. Jitendra Kumar became a TVF sensation with his brilliant performances in the ‘Tech Conversations With Dad’, ‘A Day With’ series, TVF Bachelor’s series which crossed a million views, Kota Factory and many others. He recently starred as the lead in the web series Panchayat on Amazon Prime. Jitendra Kumar is also best known for his caricature of Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, which left audiences amazed with his acting prowess.
It was Mirzapur that made Divyenndu Sharma a sensation in India. Divyendu was born in 1983 in Delhi. He is a graduate in political science from Delhi University’s Kirori Mal College. His role of Munna Bhaiya in Mirzapur amazed Indian audiences. Divyenndu is also best known for his roles as Nishant aka Liquid in Pyar Ka Punchnama, Narayan Sharma in Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, Tripathi in the film Batti Gul Meter Chalu.
Rasika Duggal’s breakthrough came in the year 2018 for her role in Mirzapur. Since then, she has received critical acclaim for multiple web series including, Made in Heaven, Delhi Crime, Out of Love, A Suitable Boy, OK Computer and others. Duggal has played roles in many films and TV shows, but it was her performances in web series which unleashed her talent before audiences. She also appeared in The Viral Fever web shows like Permanent Roommates, Humorously Yours and TVF Couples. Rasika hails from Jamshedpur in Jharkhand.