12 Bollywood Actors Whose Careers Could Not Live Up To Their Debuts

Bollywood has always maintained an almost God-like reverence for its actors.


Often looking past their body of work, Bollywood actors are worshipped for their overall star-quality and influence in the industry, which is not necessarily a bad thing. It keeps the multimillion-rupee industry churning out films that help finance smaller more unique works of art.

But not all actors end up with long and illustrious careers. Despite their talent and dedication, there are some brilliant actors who didn’t end up being industry mainstays either by choice or bad luck.

Please Note: We’re using the term debut to refer to the first film that brought these actors into the limelight and made them household names. 

#1 Rajiv Kapoor


The son of actor/director Raj Kapoor, Rajiv debuted in Ek Jaan Hain Hum and made his mark in the film Ram Teri Ganga Maili. However, his acting roles didn’t catch up to the success of RTGM and eventually, he moved to producing and directing.

Will We Catch Him On Screen Again – Unlikely, currently, Kapoor is happy with a career in law. 

#2 Mahima Chaudhry


Starring opposite Shah Rukh Khan in Pardes was undoubtedly a highlight of Chaudhry’s career with her receiving a Filmfare nomination for Best Actress and winning for the Best Female Debut. She does have an extensive filmography that stretched through 2006, however, none of her roles brought her immense talent back into the limelight.

Will We Catch Her On Screen Again – With projects allegedly in the pipeline, Chaudhry will probably be gracing our screens once again.

#3 Jugal Hansraj


The Masoom star was undoubtedly charming as the illegitimate son of Naseeruddin Shah in Masoom. But after his brilliant turn as a child star, the actor never returned to his former glory in front of the camera, despite a role in Mohabbatein. The immensely talented man, however, has a successful career as an animator and Creative Development Head at Dharma Productions.

Will We Catch Him On Screen Again – Possibly, but it seems more likely we’ll get to see more of him behind the camera. 

#4 Sneha Ullal


Sneha Ullal was a tabloid darling when she first debuted thanks to her resemblance to Aishwarya Rai. Which was made altogether more obvious when she starred opposite Salman Khan in Lucky No Time For Love. Despite receiving many offers following Lucky, she couldn’t keep the stream of hits going and received far greater success with Telugu films.

Will We Catch Her On Screen Again – Most definitely, especially in one of her English or Telugu projects. 

#5 Harman Baweja


He still is known as the star of the ill-fated Love Story 2050. The hype surrounding Baweja and his co-star Priyanka Chopra was inescapable even before the movie’s release. But despite 3 shots at stardom, Baweja couldn’t garner a fan following to justify his stint as a leading man.

Will We Catch Him On Screen Again – Post the Matthew McConaughey comeback, who knows? We might see Baweja show us hitherto unexpected talent in a big way. 

#6 Bhagyashree


A descendant of the Royal Sangli family in Maharashtra, Bhagyashree’s debut opposite Salman Khan in Maine Pyar Kiya shot her into the limelight. However, her later roles weren’t widely known and she eventually found better luck with Bhojpuri and Telugu films.

Will We Catch Her On Screen Again – With a thriving career in television, Bhagyashree might just make her way back into mainstream Bollywood. 

#7 Rajeev Khandelwal


The highly successful TV actor transitioned smoothly into Bollywood with an arresting performance in Aamir. A thriller which had critics raving about its subject matter and performances. However, despite delivering in subsequent roles in films like Shaitan, Khandelwal never really got the kind of projects he deserved.

Will We Catch Him On Screen Again – Yes, please! 

#8 Mandakini


The stunner in Ram Teri Ganga Maili created instant interest in her career after the film’s success. Even though it wasn’t technically her debut, it still made her a household name, but Mandakini’s career was never the same. Rumours about her proximity to Dawood Ibrahim made the rounds and eventually, she phased out of the industry entirely.

Will We Catch Her On Screen Again – With Bollywood writing more and more intriguing roles for women of all ages, it would be really interesting to see her return to the screen. 

#9 Vivek Mushran


The Saudagar star made waves with his performance in the 1991 film, but could not turn that into a steady career. However, Mushran’s immense talent found its way to television with well-appreciated roles in shows such as Son Pari, Bhaskar Bharti and Baat Humari Pakki Hai.

Will We Catch Him On Screen Again – Now a mature actor, Mushran would be an interesting choice for Bollywood directors, but hopefully, a rewarding one. 

#10 Bhumika Chawla


Even though Tere Naam was the film that brought Chawla to the national forefront, Chawla had already made her name in Tamil and Telugu films. The Salman Khan starrer was a huge success critically and commercially, but Chawla’s Hindi film career did not live long past it.

Will We Catch Her On Screen Again – With roles in recent films like M.S.Dhoni  – The Untold Story, here’s hoping Chawla will be back on screen soon. 

#11 Gracy Singh


Starting off as a dancer in a troupe called ‘The Planets‘, Singh worked her way through television and smaller roles till she landed Lagaan. The movie was an unprecedented success both in India and abroad, and her work in it landed Singh a role in the successful Munna Bhai MBBS. Post that however, her mainstream Bollywood career didn’t do her talent justice.

Will We Catch Her On Screen Again – Considering her vast array of roles in lesser-known films, it’s pretty much a guarantee. 

#12 Rajat Barmecha


People could not stop talking about Barmecha when Udaan released and still comes up often in conversations acting. Barmecha followed it up with a quick but entertaining cameo in Shaitan but slipped out of the mainstream. He is far away from absent on the acting scene though, even having bagged a national award for his role in the short film Ayaan.

Girl in The City is one example of his recent work that truly justifies a triumphant return in an industry thirsting for something original and grounded.

Will We Catch Him On Screen Again – If not on the big screen, Barmecha has been known to experiment with web series and is more focused unconventional forms of filmmaking that will definitely benefit from his talent.

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