Eminent actress Shabana Azmi justified her acting mettle time and again in artistic films like Ankur (1974), her first release wherein she played Lakshmi, a married servant and villager who drifts into an affair with a college student who visits the countryside. Her performance garnered her National Film Award for Best Actress, an honour she has won a record 5 times. She is regarded one of the finest actresses of India. Smita Patil was one of the finest stage and film actresses of her times who made her debut with Shyam Benegals Charandas Chor (1975). Her most remembered roles include those in Manthan, Bhumika, Aakrosh, Chakra and Mirch Masala.
Amol Palekar is known for his roles in realistic films Rajnigandha (1974) and Chhoti Si Baat (1975). Padma Shri Om Puri has acted in multiple art films like Bhavni Bhavai (1980), Sadgati (1981), Ardh Satya (1982), Mirch Masala (1986), Dharavi (1992) and Maachis (1996). Padma Bhushan Naseeruddin Shah is a film and stage actor who has been awarded the National Award for Best Actor twice, for Sparsh (1980) and Paar (1974), both artistic films and the National Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Iqbal (2005). Veteran Kulbhushan Kharbanda started off in several parallel cinema films, most noted being Nishant (1975), Bhumika (1977), Arth (1982) and all 3 instalments of Deepa Mehta's Elements trilogy, Fire (1996), Earth (1998) and Water (2005).
Pankaj Kapur is a noted theatre and film actor whose most acclaimed roles include those in Raakh (1989), Ek Doctor Ki Maut (1991) and King Duncans adapted role in Vishal Bhardwaj's Macbeth adaptation Maqbool (2003). Deepti Naval earned critical acclaim for her sensitive and “close to life” character portrayals in Hindi cinema that emphasized the changing roles of women in India, with films like Junoon, Kamla and Ankahee.
Irrfan Khan is an internationally recognised actor, who has delivered multiple critically acclaimed performances like in Haasil, Life in a... Metro, The Namesake, Paan Singh Tomar and The Lunchbox. Manoj Bajpai is recognised for his roles in Satya, Shool, Pinjar, Gangs of Wasseypur amongst several others. Nawazuddin Siddiqui is known for his roles in Dekh Indian Circus, Kahaani, Gangs of Wasseypur and Manjhi - The Mountain Man among others. Richa Chadda and Huma Qureshi are other consummate artists of contemporary parallel cinema.
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