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What happened to... Shreyas Talpade?

From Iqbal to Om Shanti Om, Talpade was heading down the path to success. After some poor choices though, the actor is now at a crossroads

Sonal Pandya

Shreyas Talpade got his start in Marathi theatre, performing for nearly five years with the troupe of All the Best in the state of Maharashtra. He moved on to small roles in Hindi and Marathi television. He played the younger version of Ashutosh Gowarikar in the Zee TV serial Woh in 1997 and had small but key role on Amanat as the son-in-law of the central character, Lala Lahori Lal. Another role as Tejas on the Marathi TV serial Damini also got him great acclaim.

Small character roles in Hindi films followed starting with Mahesh Manjrekar's Nidaan (2000) and Aankhen (2002) until his breakthrough part as a deaf and mute youngster who dreamt of playing cricket for the Indian national team in the National Award-winning Iqbal (2005). Produced by Subhash Ghai and directed by Nagesh Kukunoor, the film co-starred Naseeruddin Shah and Girish Karnad. In his first lead role, Talpade won rave reviews for his performance. Rediff reviewer Deepti Patwardhan wrote of Talpade's outstanding performance, " He virtually carries the film on his rugged shoulders, etching Iqbal's simplicity and courage." While the BBC online review stated that Talpade was "exceptional, portraying the stoicism, energy and exuberance of the unlikely hero."

He was even up for the Filmfare trophy of Best Debutant in 2005 but lost out to Shiney Ahuja in Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi. After the success of his first big film, Shreyas winded up his television assignments and got back with his Iqbal director for his next, Dor (2006). With Gul Panag and Ayesha Takia, Talpade essayed the role of a nameless behrupia who aides Panag's character Zeenat in her quest to exonerate her husband.

Later roles in Prakash Jha's Dil Dosti Etc. (2007) and Shyam Benegal's Welcome to Sajjanpur (2008) won him praise but the films didn't break the box office. That came with Om Shanti Om (2007) in which he played the jovial supportive friend of Shah Rukh Khan, Pappu Master, and won his first Filmfare nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He followed that up with a role in Rohit Shetty action comedy series Golmaal earning another nomination for Best Supporting Actor in 2008.

Unfortunately, his next few roles in Hindi films vanished without a trace. Paying Guests (2009), Click (2010) and Teen Thay Bhai (2011) barely made a stamp. The early instincts which guided him to right characters seemed to evade him at this point. In 2012, despite being a part of the 100 crore super-hit Housefull 2, Shreyas suffered two major flops with Joker and Kamaal Dhamaal Malamaal. Even with co-stars like Akshay Kumar, Sonakshi Sinha and Nana Patekar, these films could not muster up an audience.

Recently, he lost out on the lead in the Indian remake of 'Everybody Loves Raymond' to actor Namit Das but is rumored to rejoin the Golmaal franchise when the fourth film goes under production. Instead, in a smart move, Talpade took a bit of a break and turned back to Marathi cinema, producing and starring in films like Poshter Boyz (2014) and the superhero film Baji (2015). Marathi films, in the past couple of years, have seen a real resurgence and are steadily tackling their Hindi competitors at the box office. Several Hindi film actors, namely Riteish Deshmukh and Akshay Kumar, have turned to successfully producing films in Marathi. Talpade's production company Affluence Movies Pvt Ltd is taking the judicious route of choosing its subjects wisely and maybe he'll do the same when it comes to choosing in his next characters as well.