Deepika Padukone, Salman Khan, Akshay Kumar: How outsider actresses fare better than actors in Bollywood

Mood Of The Nation polls from 2016 to 2020 show how outsider actresses have always dominated the top spots, compared to their male counterparts.

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Outsider actresses have always dominated the Mood Of The Nation polls, as compared to the actors.
Outsider actresses have always dominated the Mood Of The Nation polls, as compared to the actors.

Sushant Singh Rajput's death on June 14 opened up a Pandora's Box, that the Hindi film industry knew never to touch. The word 'nepotism' has been a part of public consciousness ever since Kangana Ranaut dropped it on that now-famous Koffee With Karan episode, but things have gotten bigger. The janta, who apparently has the sole power to make a star - as we've heard the likes of Abhishek Bachchan and Farhan Akhtar say recently - is now aware that it is not just nepotism, its the whole cancel culture, and thus began the outsider vs insider debate. So, yeah, this is the mood of the nation now.

India Today's Mood Of The Nation (MOTN) polls, however, have shown this trend since 2016 - primarily in the actresses category. Clearly, women outsiders have been doing better than their male counterparts. This year's MOTN polls for the No 1 actress in Bollywood, saw Deepika Padukone grab the top spot. Outsiders, anyone? Clearly janta sab janti hai, and thus voted for a self-made artiste from a list of both insiders and outsiders. Perhaps it's just 2020, one might argue. No, it's not. The winds have been changing for a while.

Deepika Padukone has been on the top spot for five years in a row - undefeated, consistent, without a dip. Looking beyond just the top position, an analysis of the top four actresses will show a similar trend, as well. While Dippy keeps her crown, the No 2, 3 and 4 positions have mostly been claimed by Priyanka Chopra, Katrina Kaif and Anushka Sharma. All outsiders. Compare this to the actors' list, and you will spot Salman Khan dominating the charts since 2016.

So, is it possible that the janta accepts outsider actresses better than the men in Bollywood? PeeCee, for example, is a global icon today not just in the field of entertainment. She's a singer, a producer, a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador (appointed in 2016), apart from an actress. Katrina albeit had some help from Salman Khan in the initial days, but her resilience is undeniable. Remember when she was mocked for her accent and her inability to jive to a typical Bollywood number? When she went back and worked hard to better herself, that was all her, not Salman. Anushka too initially had the Yash Raj Film's push. Through the years, while she kept working in big-budget masala entertainers, she also simultaneously started her production banner, Clean Slate Films, to back genuine talents and good content. Case in point: two of the best India OTT releases in recent times - Paatal Lok and Bulbbul.

FULL RESULTS OF THE INDIA TODAY MOOD OF THE NATION AUGUST 2020

2020's results placed Anushka at the fifth spot, but then, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan replaced her at No 4. Before you frown, remember, she is Bachchan later, and the girl who went on to make India proud in the 1994 Miss World pageant first. The one who since then has climbed the popularity chart on the basis of her performances, delivering one hit after another.

The rest of the list has also been dominated by outsiders. August 20's list, for example, has Kangana Ranaut at No 7, Sushmita Sen at No 12, Kriti Sanon at No 13, Disha Patani at No 14, Bhumi Pednekar at No 16, and Taapsee Pannu at No 18. Again, all outsiders. That's 11 out of the 19 actresses on the list, leaving the remaining 8 slots for star kids.

The actors' list, however, is slightly different. This year, Akshay Kumar beat Salman Khan, the reigning king, for the top spot, dropping Dabangg Khan to No 4. Last year, it was a tie between the two. The years before that, starting 2016, Salman remained unshakable at No 1, come hell or high water. The No 2, 3 and 4 positions have mostly Shah Rukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan and Akshay Kumar battle it out. Again, outsiders.

Could we then say that the year 2020 was a turning point of sorts? The trend that was spotted in the actresses' poll since 2016, is something one can spot in the actors' poll as well. Perhaps the game has changed, after all.

Final thoughts? The mood of the nation today shows the audience collectively dissociating actors from their celebrity surnames, and sieving out genuine talents, irrespective of their background. The India Today Mood Of The Nation caught that hawa badal long back actually.

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