Step 1: Get noticed.
Step 2: Attain popularity.
Step 3: Bollywood, here I come!

The pull of the silver screen is hard to resist. No matter how much of a star you are in your own field, chances are when an offer comes your way you’re going to say yes, no matter how sidey the role is. Remember Sonu Nigam in Love in Nepal, or Lucky Ali in Sur: The Melody of Life? Two of the most popular singers in Bollywood happily went and bombed… in Bollywood. We recently noticed that the crème de la crème of the Indian standup comedy scene seems to have caught this fever too.

Vir Das may be the only actor-comedian (or comedian-actor; we are not sure what he prefers as his primary identity) who has managed to strike a balance. He’s given us some of the truly memorable Bollywood moments (Delhi Belly and Go Goa Gone were heelariyus! Mastizaade we’re pretending doesn’t exist). The others on this list have…well, erm… we’ll let you guys decide what you think.

Tanmay Bhat in ‘Ragini MMS’ 2

Tanmay Bhat has a short goofy role as Karan, who’s a part of the production crew in a haunted house. They’re filming the horrific story of Ragini, a possessed lady. Bhat’s character arrives early to get into a tête-à-tête with the spirit. Whether this was added as comic relief, or to genuinely offer some jump scares, we’re still figuring.

Sapan Verma in ‘Luck By Chance’

In Sapan Verma’s defence, it really was by chance. He was brought in to fill a frame along with other college students. But is this still something Verma brings up every time someone says ‘cameo’? Yup!

Mallika Dua in ‘Hindi Medium’

Remember – how could you not? – Mallika Dua’s breakout video (Delhi girls at the Sarojini Nagar market)? Well, here’s a movie that gave her a chance to really lean into character. Dua was cursorily seen as a customer sharing screen space with Irrfan Khan in Hindi Medium. Even though she comes and goes in a jiffy, it’s hard to miss that loud and familiar purani dilli accent.

Sahil Shah in ‘Guzaarish’

Guzaarish, the story of a Goan magician, did work the magic for a bunch of people in it: Sanjay Leela Bhansali made his debut as a composer with this film, Aditya Roy Kapoor got recognised here, and our favourite trick of all the tricks in the book, Sahil Shah was somewhere in there too!

Biswa Kalyan Rath in ‘Brahman Naman’

Biswa Kalyan Rath played Illash in Brahman Naman, a horny senior who loves narrating stories of his romantic and sexual escapades to a bunch of dorky quiz masters (sex-deprived juniors), who’d kill just to get laid. Catch a glimpse of Rath in this trailer at 2.26.

Abish Mathew in ‘Meri Pyaari Bindu’

A really short role as Bubla’s (played by Ayushmann Khurrana) friend, Abish Mathew made his Bollywood debut with Meri Pyaari Bindu. You’ve got to be a big Mathew/comedy nerd to catch his fleeting appearance in the film. But now that you know, might wanna rewatch the film?

Rohan Joshi in ‘Baar Baar Dekho’

A way more significant role than all the ones stated above, Rohan Joshi supported Siddharth Malhotra’s role in Baar Baar Dekho. As Malhotra’s NRI friend, Joshi enjoyed quite a bit of screen time, and while the film didn’t do wonders at the box office (or for Joshi’s acting career), comedy fans whooped for joy when they spotted Joshi on the silver screen.

Kanan Gill in ‘Noor’

Perhaps the only comedian to have a full-fledged Bollywood role besides Vir Das is Kanan Gill, who starred opposite Sonakshi Sinha in Noor. Gill played Sinha’s best friend, that guy you turn to in all your bad times. All. He looks it too, right?

This article was first published in DeadAnt, an online publication and new-media venture focussed on stand-up comedy in India.

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