In the Indian film industry, it is common to hear people referring to the stars of a movie as the hero and heroine rather than the lead actor and actress.
I feel this has evolved into a trope where there is an actual difference now between a hero and heroine and an actor and actress.
Who is a heroine
While a hero is usually a macho man who has both incredible muscles and an incredible personality, a heroine usually falls into the much-used-in-cinema category of Manic Pixie Dream Girl.
She has perfect looks, hair, and clothes, and is perfectly cheerful. She lights up the hero’s life and gives him purpose, whether or not she is shown to have any of her own.
Apart from an elaborate introduction scene that maximises her beauty and innocence (insert any other typically feminine trait here and it still works), we don’t know much about her personality and tastes.
She sings, dances, and acts as the prop to bring out the best in the hero.
The heroine is usually an actress who is highly popular and has a huge fan following of guys who want to date her and girls who want to be her.
She may have a dozen endorsements under her belt, and is usually active on Instagram. She also frequently posts outtakes from her various photoshoots.
Some examples of heroines in movies are Disha Patani’s character in Baaghi 2, Shraddha Kapoor’s character in Saaho, and Kriti Sanon’s character in Arjun Patiala.
Who is an actress
An actress, on the other hand, has more substance. She is an individual who does not always take roles purely for the glamour factor.
Her characters are more meaty, and make an impact on the audience.
She is not a lady whose characters can be easily imagined portrayed by another actress- that is the kind of persona and impact she lends to her role.
She may not be the sole focus of the film and may not end up with the hero.
She may not be concerned with portraying herself as extremely glamorous, and does not ride on the high of endorsements when it comes to promoting a movie.
However, she is undoubtedly an extremely talented individual.
Some examples are Alia Bhatt in Highway and Udta Punjab, Kalki Koechlin in practically all her films, and Taapsee Pannu in Pink, Naam Shabana, Badla, and so on.
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Where the two meet
Now, it’s quite common for a person to alternately be both an actress and a heroine.
The industry seems to be such that if you don’t do your share of mindless commercial movies and endorsements, you won’t get many opportunities.
Shraddha Kapoor and Kriti Sanon have been actresses in some highly charged movies like Haider and Bareilly ki Barfi respectively, just like how Alia and Taapsee have been heroines in movies like Humpty Sharma ki Dulhania and Judwa respectively.
A good actress can be a heroine if she so wishes, but I find that it’s rare to see someone who does purely superficial, arm candy kind of roles in a more meaty and gritty film.
As a millennial…
As a millennial woman, I watch a wide mix of films that call upon an individual to be both an actress and a heroine, depending on the plot.
However, I personally get bored when I watch any particular person be a heroine too often and not really display their acting chops.
I feel that it’s relatively easy to be a heroine, to be pretty and glamorous and look cute in front of the camera and with the hero. So if I see someone only be a heroine all the time, as a viewer I will be seeing them playing only similar characters.
However, it takes guts to show your complicated, less beautiful side to the audience, and let them see the versatile actress in you tackle more realistic characters that do not exist simply to validate the silver-spoon-in-mouth star kid hero.
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Find the author online at: @samyukthanair_
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