2018 in Hindi Films was an year of tectonic shifts of sorts for its leading men. It was the year when the audience rose above the massive stardom of all the three major Khans, and only the classiest of the Khans delivered in a highly experimental world. It was the year when two of the biggest names in the current generation of actors delivered the weakest performances of their careers in two blockbusters films. But it was also the year when the new breed of actors broke new ground and continued to rise and rise in very interesting characters, and age became just a number on either side of the curve for the best performers of the year. With all this and more, it was a difficult task to pick up Best of Leading Performances by Male Actors for 2018, a category that will possibly have the widest range of personal perspectives and rightfully so.
Note: Manoj Bajpayee starrer Gali Guleiyan was missed out and its digital release is still awaited. Also awaiting the wider release of some of the other acclaimed films that only made it to the festival circuits this year. Do note that the categories of Best Leading Performances by Female Actors and Best Supporting Performances were already looked at separately.
- PARAMBRATA CHATTERJEE as Arnab (Pari) – A grounded act loaded with empathy, Param broke the difficult ground of making the simple stand out!
- DULQUER SALMAN as Avinash (Karwaan) – DQ thrived in being ordinary and lost in the crowd, conveying the most by saying the least in a very natural performance!
- AVINASH TIWARI as Qais (Laila Majnu) – Dollops of charm perfected the portrayal of easy breezy Qais, while the frenzied intensity of the spiritual Majnu showed the rough edges at times, and hit the bull’s eye at others!
10. ISHAAN KHATTER as Amir (Beyond The Clouds) – Ishaan Khattar was the biggest strength of Majid Majidi’s first hindi film, making such a wonderful self assured debut. As Amir, Ishaan was an absolute charmer, and his sparkling eyes conveyed the complete arc of emotions effortlessly. He held together the film like a pro. Ishaan did not miss a beat as Madhukar in Dhadak as well, and plays out the entire spectrum of emotions from infatuation to insecurity to fear to helplessness with great unassuming ease.
09. SAIF ALI KHAN as Rileen (Kaalakaandi) – The most secured and hence the most fearless of all the Khans, Saif Ali in Kaalakaandi was an absolute riot. The role needed him to shed all his vanity, and perform Rileen with zero inhibition like there is no tomorrow. Saif did exactly that and pulled off an all crazy no bar performance like a piece of cake. It takes tremendous confidence and awareness of one’s craft to get experimental to such extreme levels, and pick up such diverse, out of comfort zone characters like Rileen and ace them. He repeated this with his outstanding act as Sartaj Singh in Sacred Games as well, and it deserves a mention to complete the 2018 scorecard of Saif. More power to you!
08. NAWAZUDDIN SIDDIQUI as Saadat Hasan Manto (Manto) – In a film that tried to check too many boxes in its grand ambition, but got compromised in overall intensity and soul as a trade-off, Nawazunddin Siqddiqui was more than perfect! From his side, he breathed in all of his craft into Manto. Through the performance, he completely lost himself to Manto from looks to gestures to conversations, and had the script supported him equally, this could have potentially become his all time best performance to date! Manto is still a very strong addition to Nawaz’s filmography and will be remembered for long. His other terrific act of the year as Ganesh Gaitonde in Sacred Games added more color and fire to his performance spectrum for 2018!
07. SUSHANT SINGH RAJPUT as Mansoor Khan (Kedarnath) – It was easy for Mansoor to get overshadowed in front of the spunky and effervescent Mukku, but Sushant shined bright and solid in his well restrained performance, rich in depth and a very graceful poise that Mansoor demanded. His charm was overwhelming even in his sobriety, his eyes spoke volumes, and his emotions shined past the inherent awkwardness of the character. He stood tall as Mansoor – you felt his earnestness as he crooned to a favorite song, and you understood his complete submission to the divine through the happiness he spread around. It was a pleasure watching Sushant’s underplayed goodness brighten up the film so effectively!
06. ABHISHEK BACHCHAN as Robbie Bhatia (Manmarziyaan) – Of the three main characters in the film, Robbie’s character arc was most sketchily written and definitely the least flashy and exciting. But Abhishek got into the skin of Robbie and delivered a brilliantly nuanced performance with utmost ease, conveying a world of unsaid through those deep and sparkling eyes. His silences spoke volumes and his expressions were multi-layered and heavily textured – evoking peace, stability and high-handish ego at the same time. It was not easy to stand up to the flamboyance of Vicky and Rumi in this story, but Abhishek’s gravitas, persona and earnestness rose above and beyond underwhelming role. It was one of the most heartwarming performances of the year!
05. VINEET KUMAR SINGH as Shravan Kumar Singh (Mukkabaaz) – Vineet was the life and soul of Mukkabaaz and nailed down every breath of Shravan Kumar to perfection. It was an absolute power punch of a performance, and the actor lost himself completely to the character all along the film. To his credit, he even rose above the occasional meandering of the script that attempted to cramp itself with too many things, remained strikingly fluid, and grounded the performance to dissolve effortlessly in the texture and flavor of small town rustic India. His balance in protecting the romantic charm of Shravan from the harsh punches of his sporting struggle made it one of the most measured performances of the year!
04. GAJRAJ RAO as Jeetender Kaushik (Badhaai Ho) – In a film that boasted of a terrific ensemble performance, Gajraj Rao commanded the space of the real hero of the film. He was absolutely flawless in the heartwarming portrayal of the middle-aged middle-class man who is still tremendously in love with his wife, has a world of respect for her as well as his mother, is caring to the core, and deeply proud of his values, his family and his life. He delivered brilliance in every single frame, in every glance, and together with Neena Gupta featured in the most charming love story of the year. And boy, what a cute father did he make – I really wanted to go and hug him as he danced his way with his baby in the final song!
03. VICKY KAUSHAL as Vicky Sandhu (Manmarziyaan) – Vicky Kaushal is a magician. At times, it is mind boggling to think that the same boy can do a Raazi and a Manmarziyaan with such finesse and perfection within months. Vicky Sandhu was the pinnacle of his craft this year. It is still impossible to comprehend the ‘how’ of what he did to Vicky in spite of a couple of convenient plot points. His swagger was unmatched as the reckless DJ , his irresponsibility was frustrating, and his agony was deafening. It was so easy to go over-pitched in the flamboyance of the Sandhu boy, but Vicky knew what to calibrate where and delivered a flawless performance of the deeply flawed character, elevating the sheer experience of the film, and how!
02. AYUSHMANN KHURRANA as Akash (Andhadhun) – Ayushmann Khurrana was the absolute show stealer of Andhadhun after Shriram Raghavan! He was the perfect foil to the delicious wickedness of Tabu, and weaved in his effortless charm to the eccentricities of the most grey character of his career to date. The transformation of mannerisms and expressions to effectively build the realities of two contrasting worlds within the same scene was simply outstanding and was delivered on point every single time. With a top of the game Akash, Khurrana easily surpassed all his previous performances, and then immediately followed it up with a wonderfully endearing Nakul Kaushik in Badhaai Ho with all his flaws, constraints, shame, awkwardness, empathy, sense of respect and overall wholesome goodness. Truly superlative stuff this!
01. VARUN DHAWAN as Danish “Dan” Walia (October) – Juhi Chaturvedi’s Dan would age like vintage wine, and contrary to all apprehensions and skepticism, Varun made Dan as real and vulnerable as no one else could have! He completely submitted himself to Shoojit Sircar’s vision and well within the first ten minutes of the film, I could not imagine anyone else playing Dan! There was not an iota of stardom anywhere and Varun infused Dan with all the innocence, confusion, vulnerability, pathos, underplayed humor and a terrific sense of belonging! This was Varun’s performance of a lifetime that soaked you in completely in its melancholic beauty, and left you speechless! Varun continued his golden run for the year as the rooted and rustic Mauji in Sui Dhaaga – Made in India as well, perfecting his gait, appearance, hold on the language and expressions to live and breathe yet another naive simpleton character in his minimalist charm. What an year for the man!
A fabulous year for the leading men then, with such intriguingly gorgeous characters. Do share what were your favorites of the year. Also please lookup YEAR END ROUNDUP 2018 – Hits & Misses for all similar posts on year end roundup for 2018. See you soon with more, keep following this space.
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