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From Harshvardhan Kapoor to Mawra Hocane: Here's how debutants fared in 2016


From Ritika Singh to Sanya Malhotra, the Hindi film industry welcomed many new faces. Here is a look at the new class of actors and actresses who joined the industry this year and survived even if their first film didn't.

Sonal Pandya

Ritika Singh
Debut film: Saala Khadoos/Irudhi Suttru
First impression: A former kickboxer and mixed martial artiste, Ritika Singh made a confident debut with the Tamil-Hindi bilingual, playing Madhi, an untrained boxer who is coached for the big league by a former boxer (R Madhavan). She received a Special Mention honour at the 63rd National Film Awards for the Tamil version, Irudhi Suttru. Since her film came out in January, Singh has signed on for more films in Tamil and Telugu.
Box-office verdict: The film was a flop with a total collection of only Rs10.7 crore, but both Madhavan and Singh's performances were lauded. The Tamil version was shown at the 29th Tokyo International Film Festival and the 47th International Film Festival of India in October and November, respectively.


 
Harshvardhan Rane
Debut film: Sanam Teri Kasam
First impression: Having already made his debut in Telugu films, actor Harshvardhan Rane’s first Hindi film was Sanam Teri Kasam opposite Pakistani actress Mawra Hocane. While his debut wasn’t ground-breaking, that hasn’t deterred him from pursuing a career in Mumbai. Rane was nominated for the Best Male Debut at the Sansui Colors Stardust Awards and appreciated for his short film, Khamakha, with Manjari Fadnis, which was released on Hindi Diwas. His next Hindi film is a remake of the Tamil film Agni Natchathiram (1988) with Dhanush. The film will be directed by Bejoy Nambiar.
Box-office verdict: The tragic love story, co-directed by Radhika Rao and Vinay Sapru, didn’t connect with audiences despite a soundtrack composed by Himesh Reshammiya. The film, with total box-office collections of only Rs8 crore, was a flop.


Mawra Hocane
Debut film: Sanam Teri Kasam
First impression: Another actress looking to cross over from Pakistan, Mawra Hocane was a popular VJ and appeared in several Pakistani television shows before making her Hindi film debut with Sanam Teri Kasam. The film’s plot did much disservice to her — putting her in a regressive tale where she played the damsel in distress always in need of rescuing. Hocane hasn’t signed on any new Hindi films as yet; her next will be a film back in Pakistan. In June, she was rumoured to be getting close to actor Ranbir Kapoor, whom she has confessed to having a big crush on.
Box-office verdict: The film’s lacklustre performance at the box office hurt Hocane more than Rane as she has yet to announce her next project in India. With the current ban on Pakistani talent, it seems less likely that we would hear from her soon.


Waluscha De Sousa
Debut film: Fan
First impression: A former model, Waluscha De Sousa was discovered at age 16 by fashion designer Wendell Rodricks. She separated from her husband Marc Robinson after 11 years of marriage in 2013. De Sousa's debut was a big-banner film, Yash Raj Films’ Fan with Shah Rukh Khan in an intriguing double role as a film star and his unhinged fan. Despite a prominent role as the wife of film star Aryan, De Sousa, along with Shriya Pilgoankar, was overshadowed by Khan’s dual performances.
Box-office verdict: While the film went on to gross around Rs84 crore, it did not recover its production cost. Khan was the draw, but he could not save the film.


Shriya Pilgaonkar
Debut film: Fan
First impression: The daughter of veteran actors Sachin and Supriya Pilgoankar, Shriya made her Hindi film debut with Fan as Neha, the object of Gaurav Chandna’s affections. Prior to Fan, Pilgaonkar had acted in television shows with her parents and been the lead in several English-language plays. She appeared in the Marathi film Ekulti Ek (2013) directed by her father and the French film Un Plus Une (2015). The talented actress also produced and directed short films.
Box-office verdict: While the film’s performance hasn’t affected its two actresses much, Pilgaonkar hasn’t signed another film yet as she is still performing the play, Internal Affairs.


Diljit Dosanjh
Debut film: Udta Punjab
First impression: The leading actor and singer from Punjabi cinema, Diljit Dosanjh effortlessly made his Hindi film debut with Abhishek Chaubey’s Udta Punjab alongside Shahid Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor Khan and Alia Bhatt. Sharing most of his scenes with Kapoor Khan, Dosanjh made a self-assured debut and has already lined up his next two films with A-list star Anushka Sharma’s home productions in 2017 — Phillauri and Kaneda. The actor has fans across the globe after his strong performance as a local policeman in Udta Punjab who has to face up to the state’s growing drug problem.
Box-office verdict: Produced by Anurag Kashyap and Ekta Kapoor, the film faced a harsh censor battle before release and was finally released at the nth hour. The actors were lauded for their performances and the film for its treatment of drug abuse. Despite the odds, Udta Punjab went on to become an average hit with a total box-office collection of Rs60 crore.


Sobhita Dhulipala
Debut film: Raman Raghav 2.0
First impression: Sobhita Dhulipala had an interesting first film with Anurag Kashyap’s Raman Raghav 2.0 where she played Simmy, girlfriend of Vicky Kaushal’s Raghav. Kaushal and actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui as Raman engage in a cat-and-mouse game as cop and murderer as they truly give into their darker sides. Siddiqui virtually steals the show in the film and Dhulipala did well to get noticed. Next year seems promising for the former Miss India 2013 with two Hindi films opposite Saif Ali Khan (Chef and Kaalagandi).
Box-office verdict: Though the film was made on a low budget, it only grossed Rs6.8 crore and is officially considered a flop. The critical acclaim for the performances could not save this small film.


Pooja Hegde
Debut film: Mohenjo Daro
First impression: Ashutosh Gowariker’s magnum opus on the Indus Valley civilization, Mohenjo Daro is actually actress Pooja Hegde’s fourth film, not first. However, it’s her first Hindi film and it doesn’t get larger than a Gowariker production with Hrithik Roshan as co-star. From the beginning, the film was plagued with questions of costume inaccuracies and historical settings. Amidst all this talk and the competition with Akshay Kumar’s Rustom, which was released the same day, the 26-year-old has yet to break through the current crop of actresses who joined the industry this past year.
Box-office verdict: Mohenjo Daro is a flop that could not save face with its high production cost of Rs125 crore. The film only made Rs73 crore at the box office, out of which Rs50 crore was said to be star Hrithik Roshan’s salary.


Momal Sheikh
Debut film: Happpy Bhag Jayegi
First impression: Momal Sheikh had a smaller but impactful role in Mudassar Aziz’s Happy Bhag Jayegi as the fiancee of Abhay Deol’s Pakistani politician Bilal. She shared the screen with her real-life father Javed Sheikh, who played Bilal’s father. Co-starring Diana Penty as Happy, Ali Fazal and Jimmy Sheirgill, the film pit the large cast of characters inadvertently crossing over the Indo-Pak border and then trying to find a way back. The actress, who previously acted on Pakistani television, made her film debut with Happy Bhag Jayegi.
Box-office verdict: The comedy was a surprise hit and grew by positive word-of-mouth reviews after it released. It did average business, grossing Rs39 crore in India.


Andrea Tariang
Debut film: Pink
First impression: Compared to her female co-stars Taapsee Pannu and Kirti Kulhari, Andrea Tariang plays a smaller part in Anirudda Roy Chowdhury’s Pink. It is the first feature film for the musician-turned-actress and for someone who didn’t grow up watching Hindi films, Tariang has left quite the impression with her debut performance. Andrea plays the under-represented character from the North East who has to face added discrimination for the way she looks, as well as her gender.
Box-office verdict: The courtroom thriller is one of the year’s few genuine hits with a total box-office collection of Rs65 crore from its production cost at Rs14 crore. Amitabh Bachchan’s star power added to the box-office draw, but here content was king.
 


Disha Patani
Debut film: MS Dhoni: The Untold Story
First impression: Even before her debut film released, actress Disha Patani was already making waves with the music video, Befikra, opposite Tiger Shroff. The two were also rumoured to be dating each another. Patani has also bagged an international project as Princess Ashmita opposite action legend Jackie Chan with Kung Fu Yoga. In Neeraj Pandey’s MS Dhoni: The Untold Story, Patani played Priyanka, the star cricketer’s girlfriend whose accidental death was one of the tragic events in his past that most weren’t aware of. Patani has already picked up her first award for best newcomer at the Star Screen Awards for her first role.
Box-office verdict: While the film has joined the Rs100-crore club, MS Dhoni: The Untold Story is only an average hit with a total gross of Rs119 crore. The film had a high production cost as it employed many VFX shots and recreated the historic 2011 cricket World Cup win in Mumbai.
 


Harshvardhan Kapoor
Debut film: Mirzya
First impression: After a long delay, Anil Kapoor’s son finally debuted on the big screen with Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s Mirzya. Based on the Punjabi folk legend of Mirza-Sahibaan, the film toggled between the past and present to show two sets of doomed lovers. The gorgeously shot film fell short of expectations for the two newcomers. Even in an atypical debut, Harshvardhan garnered many fans and won the best newcomer (male) award at the Star Screen Awards. Like his sister Sonam and cousin Arjun Kapoor, he has bounced back from less-than-stellar first film and will play the lead role in Vikramaditya Motwane’s Bhavesh Joshi out next year.
Box-office verdict: After the great success of the Milkha Singh biopic, Mehra couldn’t connect the age-old love story to newer audiences. The film’s soundtrack, with lyrics by Gulzar and music by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, was its only saving grace. The film was deemed a flop with only Rs7.8 crore grossed at the box-office.
 


Saiyami Kher
Debut film: Mirzya
First impression: Harshvardhan Kapoor’s co-star Saiyami Kher made her Hindi film debut with Mirzya. She earlier acted in the Telugu film Rey with Sai Dharam Tej. Like Harshvardhan, Kher comes from a filmi family — her grandmother Usha Kiran and aunt Tanvi Azmi are both actresses. The pretty actress had a difficult part in her first film, Sahibaan doesn’t exactly endear herself to audiences with her confused actions. However, it seems like Kher has put that in her past and signed her next film, Lucknow Central, opposite Farhan Akhtar.
Box-office verdict: While the big launch with Mehra got Harshvardhan and Kher noticed, the failure of their first film will likely motivate them further with their upcoming films.
 


Sayyeshaa
Debut film: Shivaay
First impression: Sayyeshaa Saigal’s parents, Sumeet and Shaheen Banu, both acted in the late 1980s to early 1990s, but didn’t make it to the big leagues. Her mother Shaheen is the niece of Saira Banu. For Ajay Devgn’s second film as director, Shivaay, he cast two new actresses in the thrilling story of a single father who goes to many lengths to save his daughter. Like most on this list, Sayyeshaa made her Hindi film debut after acting first in another language. She acted in the Telugu film Akhil opposite Nagarjuna’s son Akhil Akkineni in 2015 before taking on the role of Anu, an Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer in Bulgaria who helps Shivaay (Devgn) in the search for his daughter. As Devgn and child artiste Abigail Eames dominated most of the film, actresses Sayyeshaa and Erika Kaar were largely ignored.
Box-office verdict: Shivaay shares the same fate as Mohenjo Daro. Made on a costly budget of Rs105 crore, the film only garnered Rs84 crore in India after it opened against Karan Johar's Ae Dil Hai Mushkil and is labelled a flop.
 


Erika Kaar
Debut film: Shivaay
First impression: Buoyed by foreign born actresses making it big in Hindi cinema (Katrina Kaif, Amy Jackson), Polish actress Erika Kaar, who had previously appeared in the BBC miniseries, The Passing Bells, took on a role in Shivaay. Kaar plays Olga, a Bulgarian student who meets Devgn’s mountaineer during a perilous trekking expedition. She attempts to speak Hindi in the film but after a point, it’s not quite convincing. Kaar joins the long list of other foreign talent (Giselli Monteiro, Barbara Mori, Yana Gupta) who tried to break through in the industry.
Box-office verdict: Despite debuting with a big banner (Ajay Devgn Films), Kaar will face an uphill battle trying to find roles that will be suited for her.
 


Navneet Kaur Dhillon
Debut film: Loveshhuda
First impression: Miss India World 2013, Navneet Kaur Dhillon’s first two films released within a month of each other. Her first film was Loveshhuda with Girish Kumar in February, while in March, her first Punjabi film Ambarsariya starring Diljit Dosanjh came out in March. Loveshhuda was a flop, but Ambarsariya did well for both Dosanjh and Dhillon. Dhillon has already signed another Punjabi film, Jaani, with Gippy Grewal.
Box-office verdict: The lead pair of Dhillon and Kumar failed to impress and the film, directed by Vaibhav Misra, failed at the box-office with a gross of Rs2.9 crore only.
 


Neha Khan - Rishab Arora - Shivum Patil - Aanchal Munjal
Debut film: Ghayal Once Again
First impression: Twenty-six years after the original, Sunny Deol stepped behind the camera for only the second time to make the sequel, Ghayal Once Again. This time around, his character Ajay Mehra helps out four youngsters who unintentionally witness and record a murder when they become a target of the murderers. The old guard appearing with young actors Neha Khan, Rishab Arora, Shivum Patil, Aanchal Munjal was supposed to make a statement but hardly anyone noticed.
Box-office verdict: The film failed to evoke memories of the hard-hitting original and only grossed Rs28.6 crore and was declared a flop.
 

Fatima Sana Shaikh and Sanya Malhotra
Debut film: Dangal
First impression: In one of the year’s most anticipated films, Aamir Khan becomes an all-knowing father and wrestling coach in the Mahavir Singh Phogat biopic Dangal. Fatima Sana Shaikh and Sanya Malhotra play his eldest daughters, Geeta and Babita, who went on to become celebrated wrestlers in their own right. Shaikh acted as a child artiste in films like Chachi 420 (1997) and Bade Dilwala (1999) and appeared in smaller roles with Akaash Vani (2013). Dangal is her first role as a lead. Malhotra, who plays Shaikh’s younger sister, is making her debut with the film.
Box office verdict: TBA
 


Gaurav Arora
Debut film: Love Games
First impression: A former model, Gaurav Arora made his film debut in the romantic triangle Love Games, directed by Vikram Bhatt, with actresses Patralekha and Tara Alisha Berry. He later followed it with another triangle with Emraan Hashmi and Kriti Kharbanda in Raaz: Reboot. Both his 2016 releases have been flops and Arora has one more film with Vishesh Films as part of his three-picture deal.
Box-office verdict: Love Games was slammed by both critics and at the box office. It managed to gross Rs3.1 and was declared a flop.
 


Gautam Gulati
Debut film: Azhar
First impression: Gautam Gulati, a television actor and winner of the eighth season of the popular reality series, Bigg Boss, acted as a fellow teammate of Mohammad Azharuddin in the biopic directed by Tony D’Souza. Unfortunately, the film played fast and loose with the facts and events depicted in the film and presented Azhar as a more sympathetic character when played by actor Emraan Hashmi. Luckily, Gulati is working again with director D’Souza on his next, Behen Hogi Teri, with Rajkummar Rao and Shruti Haasan.
Box-office verdict: The sports feature grossed Rs30.7 at the box-office and was yet another disappointment for star Emraan Hashmi after last year’s Mr X and Hamari Adhuri Kahaani.