Who are Bollywood's most intelligent actors?

Mumbai, Aug 25 (IANS) Who is the most intelligent actor in Bollywood? Many names come to mind, but directors have their own favourite stars even though most of them say it is difficult to apply a uniform yardstick.

The names that topped their lists include Amitabh Bachchan, Shabana Azmi, Aamir Khan, Naseeruddin Shah and Akshay Kumar.

Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra: I'm still too new. I've worked with the most intelligent actors in this country like Amitabh Bachchan, Om Puri and Aamir Khan. Right now I feel very special because I've someone like Waheeda Rehman on the sets. She is too special. For me, to differentiate intelligence of all these wonderful actors would be presumptuous. My journey has been too short.

After I put together a larger perspective, maybe I can comment better. They're all super-accomplished. I'm not being diplomatic. I'm as nervous directing Abhishek Bachchan today in "Delhi 6" as I was when I directed his father in "Aks". I'd say every actor from Raveena Tandon to Sonam Kapoor has added to my learning curve. I'm always learning from my actors.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali: It would have to be Mr. (Amitabh) Bachchan. He brings decades of his experience on the table and yet he never allows it to show in his performances. When I was doing "Black" with him, on many occasions he would be able to understand a scene fully even before I had explained it. And then he'd take it much further than where I thought it would go. The hallmark of a truly intelligent actor is that he never allows the baggage of his wisdom and experience to weigh down his performance. Amitji can interpret a scene in a hundred ways. But finally he knows which is the best way to deal with a moment.

The way he would show sudden fits of absolute forgetfulness as an Alzheimer patient in "Black" still gives me goose bumps. I'd give anything to work with him again.

Sudhir Mishra: It is very hard to single out any one actor. Anil Kapoor, Om Puri and Shabana Azmi are all highly intelligent. Kareena Kapoor has an instinctive intelligence. Shabana seeks out a context to every part. She understands a part cerebrally and then gets emotionally attached to it. Chitrangada Singh is stunning. On the first day of shooting (of "Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi") I was talking to her like a child. On the last day I spoke to her as though she was Naseeruddin Shah.

Naseer is the most fantastically intelligent actor I've worked with. And he doesn't let the preparation show on screen. He was in my first film "Yeh Woh Manzil To Nahin". Everything I know about acting came from watching him in front of the camera. Naseer taught me there's no generic rule for acting. Every actor is different. You need to hit the right notes.

Currently Kay Kay Menon continues to be a surprise. A lot of people say things about Shiney Ahuja, but he's very focused with me. Does commercial success spoil actors? It didn't spoil Aamir Khan or Saif Ali Khan. Saif works with a very rare intelligence. He creates characters without fuss.

There're so many super-intelligent actors. Amitabh Bachchan, Hrithik Roshan and Shah Rukh Khan know exactly what they're doing. Mr. Bachchan can make the most stupid scene look convincing. Sadly many brilliant actors choose stardom above talent.

Vipul Shah: I've worked with two major actors - Amitabh Bachchan and Akshay Kumar. No one has the creative intelligence of Mr. Bachchan. He keeps things very simple while shooting. I'll be the heart, you be the brain, he says on the sets. He takes instructions carefully, then adds subtle tones to it.

But as for knowing what would work with the audience, there's no one to beat Akshay. Big films that he said won't work didn't. Akshay knows when something is missing in a scene. At the last minute he'll do something to make the scene more interesting. He can actually see the audience reacting to a scene while shooting it. When we were shooting "Namastey London" in Punjab, he suddenly came up with the idea of wearing sunglasses in his own house. When I questioned him on it, he said it was because his character wanted to impress the girl.

As for my wife Shefali Shah, she transforms before camera. She applies another kind of intelligence to her characters ... quite different from Amitji and Akshay.

Kunal Kohli: I've worked with some of the most intelligent actors in the industry - from Hrithik Roshan and Kareena Kapoor in "Mujhse Dosti Karoge", Saif Ali Khan and Rani Mukerji in "Hum Tum" and "Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic", Aamir Khan, Kajol and Tabu in "Fanaa". It's very difficult to apply any uniform yardstick of intelligence to all these wonderful actors.

I've always been an Aamir fan even when I was a journalist. When I finally got a chance to direct him, I was able to bring Aamir together with an actress he had never been paired with. Kajol and Aamir are supposed to be such different actors.

But it's just a myth that Aamir likes to over-rehearse. In fact, he dislikes too many takes and would prefer to go with the first take. He brings to the table a kind of intelligence that makes a film's quality superior with every passing moment.

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