From the time that he made his debut in MAACHIS, Jimmy Shergill has tried to carve out a niche for himself that is slightly off tangent from the usual run off mill commercial acting. SAHEB, BIWI AUR GANGSTER is another such feather in his cap. As a matter of fact what started as an attempt to develop alternate cinema, a cinema that epitomized the angst, travail and tribulations of middle class, but was not that arty, and evolved primarily around the time when Amol Palekar was acting in Hindi cinema has now blossomed into a distinct entity with a melange of players giving it a rainbow hue. Apart from Jimmy Shergill, other actors who belong to this genre or have gravitated to this genre include Vinay Pathak, KK Menon, Rajat Kapoor, Mahie Gill, Neha Dhupiya, and now Lara Dutta also seems to be joining into this category.
This category of cinema has a distinct fan following, the fans searching for something meaningful in the cinema that they wish to patronize and it is on account of such development that a director like Anurag Kashyap has become Avant garde and he could have the guts to make a film like THAT GIRL IN YELLOW BOOTS, which created a buzz in the major film festivals around the world.
The gravitation to this segment is primarily owing to the fact that in the mainstream commercial cinema these actors do not find a role of prominence and have to satisfy themselves with secondary roles, so it is better to play the main lead in the off-beat films that are talked about, are seen by the fans all over the world, and it also helps them in creating an international fan following as well. In context of Jimmy Shergill one has to say that Jimmy Shergill has tried to carve this niche in Punjabi cinema as well and commands a decent fan following at the box office.
A noticeable trend during few years has been that the established female actors when they are gravitating to a certain age also try to move to this genre to find a place in the sun. Neha Dhupiya is one such example who after playing a second fiddle in SINGH IS KINNG must have realized that if she has to become an actor of substance, it is the alternate cinema that is going to provide her the platform. And it indeed did with PHAS GAYE RE OBAMA, which emerged as one of the most successful films of this genre in the recent times.
So it has happened in the case of Lara Dutta who started her own production house to do some alternate cinema with CHALO DILLI. The biggest brand icon for this category however is Vinay Pathak who with BHEJA FRY established this genre as a genre which has an element of commercial success as well, and Vinay by doing the encore BHEJA FRY-2. In between he did a RAB NE BANA DI JODI as well, but must have found that if the niche has to be carved it has to be done by following the trend that he established with BHEJA FRY.
The emergence of the alternate cinema of the present times is also a sort of revolt against the star system that seems not that enthusiastic about allowing a second wave of actors to stream in and try to continue the stranglehold of the family on the process. But this new wave of cinema, which is facilitated by advancement of technology as also the appreciation from the audience underlined the fact that alternate cinema of the present times has definite potential to be a successful commercial business proposition as well.