10 actors who have carved a niche in both OTT and cinematic spaces

From Maoj Bajpaaye, Saif Ali Khan, Nawazuddin Siddqui to Jaideep Ahlawat, Vikrant Massey, these actors are lighting up both streaming platforms and films with their versatility and talent.

10 actors who have carved a niche in both OTT and cinematic spaces

Actors are no longer defined by which medium they most often dabble in. So many performers are today flexing their acting muscles with equal ease both on streaming platforms and films. Here is our pick of five of such versatile talents:

1. Manoj Bajpayee: The actor in past has essayed some prominent roles that didn't get the acknowledgement he rightfully deserved. It's tragic how Bollywood failed to recognize Manoj Bajpayee as one of the finest actors. Even with films like Aligarh and Bhonsle to his name. But what is Bollywood's loss is OTT and the public's gain.

The success of Manoj Bajpayee’s The Family Man speaks for itself. The web series filled the gap making him one of the most acclaimed actors.

2. Radhika Apte: From someone who made her debut in 2005  with a fleeting appearance in a now-forgotten film ‘Vaah! Life Ho Toh Aisi!’, Radhika Apte has grown enormously to become the unofficial queen of OTT productions and an acclaimed film actor, be it in commercial hits like Badlapur’ and ‘Andhadhun’ or  in an independent film like ‘Raat Akeli Hai’. Many credit her with changing the scope and span of female performances in OTT shows. Her ability to exude both charisma and earthy simplicity has seen her churn out flawless performances in titles as diverse as 'Manjhi – 'The Mountain Man', 'Parched,' 'Phobia,'  'Pad Man,' 'Lust Stories,' 'Bazaar,' 'A Call to Spy,' 'Stories by Rabindranath Tagore,' 'Ghoul,' and 'Sacred Games.' Along the way, she has scooped up various awards and also garnered critical and popular appreciation.

3. Pankaj Tripathi: It was in 2004 when Pankaj Tripathi made his Bollywood debut with the film Run. However, he was only paid his due for being an actor with solid talent after the release of Mirzapur. It's not that Tripathi wasn't critically acclaimed for his acting before, but Bollywood didn't give him the appreciation he was worthy of. The actor himself believes that the only reason he is successful and people recognize him is because of his work on OTT platforms. 

4. Vikrant Massey: Vikrant’s journey has been chequered and spans diverse platforms. Starting with a 2004 television series,  'Kahaan Hoon Main,' he tried his best to adapt to the entertainment trends of the day by working in shows like  'Dharam Veer,' 'Balika Vadhu,' 'Baba Aiso Varr Dhoondo,' and 'Qubool Hai.' His debut film appearance in 'Lootera' (2014), and then a role in 'Dil Dhadakne Do' (2015) showed us a glimpse of the actor who has more potential than he has been given credit for.

With  2017's critically acclaimed film 'A Death in the Gunj,' he showed what an accomplished actor he really is and even won a  Filmfare Awards nomination in the category of Best Actor – Critics. In the OTT space, he has carved a niche for himself with success stories like 'Mirzapur,' 'Criminal Justice'  and in the second seasons of 'Broken But Beautiful.' And bigger film roles are also coming his way, including the lead opposite Deepika Padukone in  'Chhapaak' (2020) and the starring role in the recent 'Ginni Weds Sunny,' opposite Yami Gautam.

5. Jaideep Ahlawat: For this FTII graduate, the success of his idol Irrfan Khan was a beacon in the dark years he spent struggling for meaty roles. In 2008, he made his debut in a short film 'Narmeen' and went on to play many small parts till his role as Shahid Khan in 'Gangs of Wasseypur' (2012) and as Khalid Mir in 'Raazi' (2017) got him some much-deserved attention. But stardom and a Filmfare award came with the Anushka Sharma produced web series ‘Paatal Lok.’ This performance truly heralded his arrival as a star who could lead a show as its protagonist. Even in an anthology like ‘Ajeeb Dastans,' he stood out for his portrayal of a gay man who is unable to embrace his sexuality openly. Today he is being offered diverse roles in OTT productions and films. Even as Ahlawat treads a path that was painstakingly carved by predecessors like Irrfan Khan and Manoj Bajpayee, there is no doubt that he has already created a success story that is uniquely his own.  

6. Nawazuddin Siddiqui: From having a Bachelor’s degree in B.Sc. Chemistry, working as a Chemist for a year to taking admission in NSD, Delhi, and working in almost 50 films and two web series, he has come a long way. The actor has done some remarkable roles in both Bollywood movies and OTT platforms. Though, Nawazuddin Siddiqui's act as Ganesh Gaitonde, a Mumbai don with God-complex in Netflix's smash hit show, The Sacred Games, was path-breaking. 

It wasn’t that Nawazuddin hadn’t played a gangster in films, but the fact that he was cast as a lead without having any experience of headlining a project before got a lot of people to sit up and take note.

7. Saif Ali Khan: Saif Ali Khan pioneered the trend of Bollywood stars featuring in OTT projects. His project Sacred Games was the first OTT projected starring a mainstream Bollywood star. Recently, the actor was also seen in the political drama Tandav.

8. Rajeev Khandelwal: From TV to films to OTT, Rajeev Khandelwal’s career has encompassed every medium and the actor wants to continue to keep experimenting and dabbling with newer projects.

The actor has films like Aamir, Shaitan, Table No 21 and web series Court Martial  Haq Se, Marzi and Naxalbari among others to his credit. 

9. Huma Qureshi: Actor Huma Qureshi rose to fame with her Bollywood film, Gangs of Wasseypur 2 directed by Anurag Kashyap. The actress went on to do some strong characters in films like Badlapur, Dedh Ishqiya, Jolly LLB 2. Besides, she has also made her mark on the OTT platform. Most recently she was acclaimed for her work in Maharani, which is streaming on SonyLIV. The actress will also be seen in the upcoming Tamil action-thriller Valimai, and Hindi spy-thriller Bell Bottom.

Charting her name among the very few actresses who have worked globally, Huma recently made her Hollywood debut with Zack Snyder’s Army of The Dead.

10. Mukul Chadda: Mukul Chadda left New York and a thriving career in finance because his heart craved for a life in the arts. He arrived in Mumbai without a blueprint for his future but memories of doing theatre in college and attending classes at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute began to guide his choices. He soon found himself working in films like 'Ek Main Aur Ekk' Tu', 'Island City', 'I, Me Aur Main' etc along with shows like 'The Office', 'Bichoo Ka Khel' and 'Gurgaon'. This month, he is celebrating the release of an OTT series, ‘Sunflower’ and the much-awaited film ‘Sherni.’ In the former, which is a dark crime comedy, he plays a rather mercurial, short-tempered character and in ‘Sherni,’ he portrays a rather unimaginative spouse who believes his wife’s government job is a ‘recession -proof’ meal ticket for life. Chadda also played a jovial and rather clueless boss in the Indian adaptation of ‘The office’ and is emerging as an actor who can effortlessly adapt to cinematic and OTT narratives without missing a beat.

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