Bollywood Actors Who Started Their Career With Theatre

Theatre has made some of the finest actors in Bollywood today. Here’s all those who started acting with the stage.


It is often said, the theatre produces the best actors because there are no cuts, retakes and the performers need to act in front of a live audience. Bollywood film industry is one of the biggest film making industry and has made actors who went on make the nation proud at the international forum. Theatre has been the breeding ground for many such talents and no matter how many acting schools they attend, there’s no platform like theatre to hone skills.  


Here is a list of stars who made their way into Bollywood from their theatre performances.


Shah Rukh Khan


King Khan started his career with the stage when he was studying at Delhi University. He studied theatre under Barry John and was a part of a theatre group before getting his first commercial break with TV show Fauji


Irrfan Khan


The National School of Drama alumnus got interested in acting under the influence of his uncle who was a theatre artist in Rajasthan. Khan did several stage performances in Jaipur before joining NDA with a scholarship. Soon after his graduation, he made his debut with Mira Nair’s Salaam Bombay


Naseeruddin Shah


Also a National School of Drama alumnus, Naseeruddin formed a theatre group with Tom Alter and Benjamin Gilani. Their first play was Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot that was staged at the Prithvi Theatre in 1979. Shah made his TV debut next with a series based on the life and times of Mirza Ghalib. 


Rajkummar Rao


The recipient of several awards, including a National Film Award, three Filmfare Awards, and an Asia Pacific Screen Award, Rajkummar Rao graduated from Delhi University and was simultaneously doing theatre with Kshitij Repertory and Shri Ram Centre in Delhi. He is also an alumnus of FTI, Pune. He said, in his interviews, his life in theatre has taught him discipline, hard work and the hunger for perfection.


Lilette Dubey


Lilette Dubey, who has been part several Bollywood blockbuster and critically acclaimed movies like Monsoon Wedding, Zubeida has been with the theatre circuit for the last two decades with her venture, Primetime Theatre Company and has been touring in and around the world. Dubey began her career with Barry John in Delhi and was the founding member of his group -Theatre Action Group (TAG) in 1973. In theatre, she is renowned for her work like Adhe Adhure and Dance Like a Man.


The contribution of Indian theatre to mainstream Indian cinema is indeed huge!

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