After looking at the best and most disappointing work by female actors last week, I will zoom in to summarize the same for the male actors for the year! 2017 has been exceptional for bringing together many brilliant performances by some extremely talented actors both for lead and supporting roles. This was also the year where the mighty Khans did not create a buzz – Salman Khan faced box-office failure after a very long time for a different genre that he showed courage to try with Tubelight; Shahrukh Khan could not manage to ring in the cash registers either with Raees or with ‘Jab Harry Met Sejal’, and Aamir Khan only had a cameo in ‘Secret Superstar’ that was refreshingly different, but got wasted in an underwhelming film! On the other hand, this was the year where we saw a lot of ‘small’ actors making it really big because of the sheer good work that they did across lead and supporting roles in some wonderful content driven films. Here is looking at the absolute remarkable ones from the lot:
There were two outstanding actors to whom 2017 absolutely belonged to. They ruled like kings and turned everything they touched to gold!
And for me, the crown jewel for all round performer was taken away by Pankaj Tripathi – He was in his own class nailing down every role to perfection! At the top end of this spectrum is #Newton, where his complex, cynical, and ideologically compromised Atmaram emerged as the real soul of the film stealing the spotlight away from Newton Kumar since there wasn’t one single false note or air of pretense in his performance! At the same time, he was absolutely adorable as Narottam Mishra from #BareillyKiBarfi playing the dotting dad to Bitti Mishra with all the heart that you will completely fall in love with his endearing charm! He also made himself well noticed with a small but significant role as Swara’s companion in the mighty strong #AnarkarliOfArrah! And I hear that he was outstanding as the lead in Gurgaon as well, that I unfortunately missed. I hope to see so much more of Pankaj in 2018 and beyond..
2017 was also the year of Rajkumar Rao in its truest sense! From the brilliant title role of #Newton as the idealistic election officer, to the completely contrasting but an outstanding and lovable Pritam Vidrohi from #BareillyKiBarfi (which is easily his best role of the year), Rajkumar Rao was a force to reckon with throughout the year. It was not easy to pull off almost a solo survival drama of #Trapped unless there was an actor of Rao’s caliber to get that done, and he did not disappoint! It was disappointing then that the release of #Omerta got pushed out to next year, but I am hopeful that his partnership with Hansal Mehta after Shahid will add another jewel to Rao’s growing body of work.
The year’s best performance in a single role however came from the house of Konkona Sen Sharma when she directed the highly underrated Vikrant Massey to deliver an outstanding Shutu for #ADeathInTheGunj. It was an extremely nuanced and sensitive performance portraying a very complex character and Vikrant breathed life into every glance and every emotion of Shutu, so much so that he will come back and haunt the world around him for years to come.
In the year of such strong performances, there were some hidden gems that practically went unnoticed. One such act was from the terrific Adil Hussain for his extremely subtle and practical portrayal of the dutiful son from #MuktiBhawan who is on a journey with his father and help him attain salvation! It is one of the finest performances for the year, on par with what we have seen from Pankaj Tripathi or Rajkumar Rao but went completely unnoticed since very few people watched the film.
A similarly subtle and understated act by Sumeet Vyas in #Ribbon was also not much talked about, but he shone like a star along with Kalki in the film, in spite of her having the more author backed role of the two in the film.
A special shout out to Raj Arjun as the menacing father in #SecretSuperstar, and Manav Kaul as Sulu’s spouse from #TumhariSulu who were both excellent in their supporting roles but did not get as much noticed as they deserved to, with their performances getting impacted in two underwhelming films. And then there was Raghubir Yadav in Newton again, who was excellent in his short role with some of the best lines of the film, but his performance possibly got overshadowed by the two other brilliant acts from the same film that we already talked about!
Ayushmann Khurrana has mastered the act of playing the eternally charming boy next door to perfection and this year wasn’t any different. His selfless, restrained, imperfect and yet earnest Abhimanyu or Bubla in #MeriPyaariBindu was certainly one of the best performances of the year, that he delivered to perfection. At the same time, he was fascinating as the small town lover-boy Chirag Dubey in #BareillyKiBarfi with distinct shades of grey trying to garb an enchanting core! May be its time for Khurana to try out more diversified roles, because a good actor like him should be fearless to experiment!
And he has a lot of inspiration in the form of the most gifted leading actor of today in Ranbir Kapoor who again aced it with another flawless act as #JaggaJasoos in Anurag Basu’s underrated experimental gem! More power to Kapoor to continuing to choose such different and interesting characters and always making them memorable without worrying too much about box office success only!
A special shout-out goes to Irrfan for an absolutely adorable Yogi from #QaribQaribSinglle who has the power to elevate any project that he takes up to a fine experience. Personally I want to see him more in such light hearted roles in years to come.
There was enough to celebrate even in the best negative characters of the year! Topping the list is the terrific Sanjay Mishra in the superlative act of a creepy vice chancellor of Arrah from the rustic midlands of India ogling for the talented dance artist Anarkali with unabashed dirty intent!
Giving him company in a similar malicious con act is the school teacher Shyam from #Haraamkhor played convincingly by the supremely talented Nawazuddin Siddiqui who has no qualms about any moral indexes in life!
And then we also have the extremely cunning and literally disgusting bully act powerfully portrayed by Ranvir Shorey in #ADeathInTheGunj with a lot of finesse! Very fine acts, all of them throwing powerful challenges back to the good guys of the game!
The most promising debut of the year came in the form the young and vibrant Tirth Sharma from #SecretSuperstar whose Chintan was the best thing about the movie and by miles. He brought in the much needed subtlety and freshness in the otherwise over the top stale drama, and easily worked his ways into the hearts of many!
A special mention for a couple of performances whom I would have loved to see get a much longer screen time in the film – Shaswata Chatterjee as the adorable Tooti Footi from #JaggaJasoos who practically gave us the best scenes of the film, and the very subdued but perfectly balanced cop from Mom played to perfection by Akshaye Khanna. We need to see them in meatier roles in many more films
And that brings me down to talk about the biggest disappointments of the year. This will undoubtedly have to go to Varun Dhawan for a below average performance in a very poorly written role in #BadrinathKiDulhania, especially because it came after such a spunky performance in his previous outing of the franchise as Humpty Sharma!
We also had to endure a rather underwhelming and more caricaturist performance from Nawazuddin Siddiqui in #Mom which will easily be one of the weakest of his illustrious career.
I also wanted to express my frustration on Imtiaz Ali who wasted a rather layered and complex Harry performed pretty well by Shah Rukh Khan in a terrible film. Wish Harry was in a different film and had never met Sejal!
There were many other underwhelming performances spread across the year, but there were anyway not too many expectations from them, so they just came and went away.
All in all, other than some of these misfires, 2017 was a brilliant year in terms of performances from many leading actors and we need this trend to continue for 2018 and onwards..
So, what were your favorite performances of the year? Happy to hear back and discuss…