The movie business is built on movie stars. Stars put butts in seats, stars put producers at ease, stars are financial guarantees. But stardom doesn't come easy.
Making a place in Bollywood - and keeping it - is always a battle against odds. Now, with a surge in fresh faces, built bodies and slick production values, standing out in Hindi cinema may be harder than ever before. Everyone arrives on the scene having gone through acting school, dance lessons, riding classes, their best angles pre-determined, their gestures and tone and bodies carefully modulated to appear distinct while fitting in.
That's why individualism in Bollywood is so noteworthy; it's neither expected, nor encouraged. To 'make it' without succumbing to the flattening of the landscape, that's unusual. To defy the odds in little ways - to be female and choosy, to be older and relevant, to be young and maverick - these are tiny ways of pushing boundaries that make a big impact.
It may be accident, but Zoya Akhtar's ensemble cast for Dil Dhadakne Do seemed to bring together a group of people who in their own way have taken Bollywood stereotypes head on. So when the all-star cast stopped by the sunny Catch offices a couple of days before the film's release, we asked three of them one question: what it really takes to beat the odds in Bollywood.
Having won Miss World at the age of 18, you wouldn't think Priyanka Chopra had any trouble making it in the movies. You'd be surprised.
Lately, promoting the primetime American TV show Quantico in which she will star this fall, she has been talking about the stereotypes she has had to wrestle with as she breaks into Hollywood.
But what about earlier, when she started out in Bollywood? What stereotype did she have to push against? "That women are irrelevant."
Anil Kapoor has been a Bollywood mainstay for decades, transitioning effortlessly from being a hero to the unsteady stage that follows.
It's typically a graceless, awkward transition. Bollywood isn't kind to actors past a certain age; even Bachchan had to take a break between leading man and father figure. But Kapoor seems to have skirted the mid-career slump and the seemingly inevitable identity crisis.
And he hasn't just survived, either. With roles in Oscar-darling Slumdog Millionaire and on a season of 24, he has continued to make his presence felt - despite the fact that his daughter's now in the field too. He continues to be, one could argue, the more successful of the two. What does it take to stay relevant? "Be ready to fail."
Ranveer Singh was star material from the word go. Add face, body, charm and some real acting chops and you've got capital 'h' Hero. But Ranveer doesn't act like you'd imagine a leading man would.
He's chatty, flamboyant, and a prankster. On a dare from Hrithik Roshan, he put on a Krrish costume and danced at a busy Mumbai intersection. In an industry obsessed with dignity, he offered himself up for public roasting. In a country of prudes, he advertised condoms - flamboyantly. The memo about staying out of trouble? He seems not to have received it. What's his rule-breaking all about? "It makes me happy."
You could argue it's never that easy. But Ranveer demonstrates that it might just be.