1 AK Hangal
Call him Imam Sahib. A man whom gentle dignity called her own, AK Hangal was a fierce revolutionary actor. He spent long years honing his craft on the stage of IPTA(Indian Progressive Theatre Artistes Association), but could never make the transition to films. He finally got his break as Raj Kapoor's older brother in Teesri Kasam, at the grand old age of 54.
2 Dina Pathak
A doyenne of theatre, Dina Pathak began her career on the stage as a theatre activist in IPTA. Although she made her debut in a Gujarati film, Kariyawar, in 1948, she was almost forgotten by the industry. Unfazed, she made a comeback at the age of 44. Basu Bhattacharya's Uski Kahani was the beginning of a career that was embellished with films like Mausam, Kinara, Gol Maal, Umrao Jaan and Arth.
3 David Abraham Cheulkar
No Hrishikesh Mukherjee film is ever complete without the presence of everyone's favourite 'David Uncle'. A BA LLB, David Abraham Cheulkar spent almost a decade looking for a job before turning to acting at the age of 30. It took him another 14 years before the world noticed his acting talent in Boot Polish. At 45, it began a whole new life for 'Uncle David'.
4 Harindranath Chattopadhyay
A poet, a litterateur, dramatist, musician and philosopher, Harindranath Chattopadhyay turned to cinema at the ripe young age of 62. Soon, it became a regular practice, with the polymath appearing on screen in films like Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam, Teen Devian, and Bawarchi. He also wrote that famous limerick that immortalised Ashok Kumar's raspy voice - Rail gaadi.
5 Dr Shriram Lagoo
The nickname 'Doctor' applied to Shriram Lagoo is more than warranted. Before turning to the stage, Doctor Lagoo spent six long years in Europe and America practicing medicine. But his cure lay in the pursuit of the theatrical arts. He took 2 more decades in theatre before making his debut on screen in V Shantaram's Pinjra, 1972. By that time, the legendary actor was 45 years old.
6 Amrish Puri
The man Spielberg called his 'favourite villain', Amrish Puri did not make his break into Indian cinema till he was 40. Struggling to make ends meet, he took up a job at the Employees State Insurance Corporation and worked at the Prithvi theatres. Slowly, recognition arrived in the form of television ads. His first break was as a henchman in the Dev Anand starrer 'Prem Pujari'.
7 Kirron Kher
Her Hindi debut was in the offbeat Pestonjee (1987), but it took almost another decade before Kirron Kher's acting prowess became familiar. Shyam Benegal's Sardari Begum launched the second career of the powerful actress who has gone on to win awards for performances in films like Bariwali, Devdas, and Khamosh Paani among others.
8 Boman Irani
In the late 80s, Boman Irani was working in the Taj Mahal Palace and Hotel as a waiter and room service staff. He continued to do odd jobs as a photographer to keep his love for theatre going. It finally worked out with the release of the independent film 'Let's Talk'. Soon, Boman became the go-to man for films like Munnabhai MBBS, Main Hoon Na and Lakshya forming his early ventures in Bollywood.
9 Saurabh Shukla
The Kallu mama of Satya endured two decades of struggle before he made his mark on the screen. Graduating the National School of Drama in 1986, Shukla continued to work as a writer, actor, director in theatres from Delhi to Bombay before he made it in cinema. It was Ramgopal Varma who approached Shukla to assist a young writer on a script. Shukla wrote himself into a character. The film was Satya, and the rest is history.
10 Sanjay Mishra
His role as the cynical man in Ankhon Dekhi had critics sit up in awe, wondering where he had been all this time. But Sanjay Mishra has always been around. From the zany VJ Apple Singh to the crazy comic capers like Welcome, Sanjay Mishra has been there and done all that. His credits include Dil Se, Satya and Guru. Recognition has arrived late for the actor, but it has finally found him.
11 Piyush Mishra
Another fellow graduate of NSD, Piyush Mishra was a senior of Manoj Bajpai and Sanjay Mishra. Reputed for his talent, he was once called to audition for the lead in a film by Sooraj Barjatya. The film was called 'Maine Pyar Kiya'. Fate would deem his work more necessary for theatre. After 2 decades of work as poet, writer, actor, director, he has finally found his niche in the industry. Having made an impression with performances in films like Gulaal, Gangs of Wasseypur, the man is now here to stay.