Ayushmann Khurrana, Shah Rukh Khan and Vineet Kumar Singh: here are the top 10 actors of 2018
From Ranveer Singh in Simmba and Shah Rukh Khan in Zero to Vineet Kumar Singh in Mukkabaaz and Gajraj Rao in Badhaai Ho, here are the top 10 actors of 2018.Updated: Dec 31, 2018 11:31 IST
Gentlemen, here’s to you. It’s been a fine year for Hindi cinema, and these performers were at the forefront, soaking up that unforgiving spotlight. They took on unconventional characters, mastered demanding new skills, and stepped far out of their comfort zones. These ten men left me applauding. Here are Hindi cinema’s best actors of the year:
10. Ranveer Singh (Simmba)
There is a lot to be said for the old-school Hero with a capital H, a leading man with screen-conquering presence and irrepressible charisma and Ranveer Singh — bless his deafeningly loud soul — says it all and more in this one. With a less magnetic actor, this would have been a Sunil Shetty film.
9. Vijay Raaz (Pataakha)
They call him ‘Bechara Bapu,’ the feeble father. A prematurely ageing man, deflated by warring offspring. He wants his children to be better than he was — he warns them about smoking, for instance, despite being a smoker — but they don’t listen till he spits on a stone and leaves decisions to fate. Raaz plays this Gandhi-figure with a droopy melancholia, arresting our attention.
Raaz also stole the film Stree with a one-scene appearance, as an old writer who lives in fear, perpetually asking if The Emergency has been lifted.
8. Jaideep Ahlawat (Raazi)
He doesn’t suffer fools. In Meghna Gulzar’s Raazi, Ahlawat plays a senior intelligence officer, RAW trainer Khalid Mir. He’s been asked to school an inexperienced, unqualified chit of a girl — a girl whose only qualification to being a spy is being born to one — and his behaviour is appropriately cut and dry, never a quarter given as he exactingly demands that she better herself, quick. The role demands brusqueness and Ahlawat is excellent in it.
7. Ravi Kishan (Mukkabaaz)
In one of the most important roles of the year, Kishan plays a proud Dalit boxing coach. When questioned about his caste, Sanjay Kumar sits bolt upright, unwilling to give an inch. He’s the one who explains the difference between an actual boxer, a mukkebaaz, and a scrappy thrower of punches, the mukkabaaz of the film’s title. He pushes his students hard, matter of factly telling his protege that it’s good the young boxer’s wife is away so his body will get rest. Kishan’s body language is tight, as if there is no room for even a rested muscle when people are watching, and the actor only unwinds when he’s about to feast on unexpected meat — “It looks like the goat has walked to us,” he says, jubilant — or when that meat leads to him being lynched.
6. Avinash Tiwary (Laila Majnu)
One of the most disarming lines on screen this year came from Tiwary’s character in the timeless Laila Majnu, playing a man perpetually on a charm offensive. He tells the girl he is trying to woo how he is aware he isn’t a good looking man — which is why he needs to try so hard to be smart, dress well, hide behind some stubble. This is not the self-awareness of most leading men, and Tiwary is anything but typical as he goes from courtship to delirium. The more frenzied he gets, the harder it is to look away from him.
5. Shah Rukh Khan (Zero)
An entitled brat constrained only by the size of his body, Khan plays the ultimate overreacher with a Napoleon complex. The actor brings an electric vitality to the part of the obnoxious Bauaa Singh, and tackles this peculiar fable with panache, no matter how preposterous his task: from trying to move stars while stars watch him, to bolting from a wedding while still garlanded by banknotes, using those notes to pay for his travel, all while he clutches a reality-show envelope like a golden ticket. Absurdly romantic.
4. Gajraj Rao (Badhaai Ho)
Very briefly, Jeetender Kaushik considers growing a moustache. A modest ticket-examiner on the Northern Railways, he is an older-than-usual father to be, which has given him a peculiar status among the family, as a champion of virility. Rao plays him as a simple man, eager to please both wife and mother, a man who doesn’t believe in tipping those who do their job, but one who ultimately grants a (smaller) mango as a reward. His secret romance is poetry — his pen-name is ‘Vyakul,’ meaning Restless — that he writes on the sly and reads aloud to his wife behind closed doors. Understated and effortless, Rao was the year’s most romantic hero.
3. Varun Dhawan (October)
Sometimes you have to keep an actor from acting — or, at least, from showing his acting. Dhawan is immaculate in Shoojit Sircar’s October as a directionless hotel management trainee who finds focus — a rather disproportionate amount of focus, true — with the injury of a colleague who happened to ask about him right before a severe accident. Dhawan is open-mouthed and naive, a man-child forced to grow up by thrusting someone else’s responsibility unto himself. It is a performance disdainful of the camera. Where is Dan, she asked. There is no truer answer than to say he’s just… around.
2. Ayushmann Khurrana (Andhadhun)
This is tougher than it looks. A man pretending to be blind, who is later actually blinded. Plus even when Khurrana is playing a pretender, he’s still making it a strong, committed blind performance, not the Hindi film look-to-the-left kind of blindness we’re used to. The actor nails the tonality between his shifts in sightlessness, and crucially keeps the tiniest of his actions tell-tale; his deliberations take on new meaning with every repeat viewing. Notice, for instance, how performative he’s being when feeling around for the time on his wristwatch.
As if this wasn’t enough, Khurrana trained hard and learnt to hammer melodies out on the piano while other actors waltzed about in front of him with blood and bodies. Deceptively brilliant — in every way.
1. Vineet Kumar Singh (Mukkabaaz)
Movie muscles in Hindi cinema may never have looked as earned and as authentic as those of Singh in this boxing movie.
His Shravan Kumar is driven to rebellion not because of injustice but because of a beguilingly pretty girl, and gradually he finds himself boxed in by bigots and biases. Singh is fierce, driven and impressively fleet-footed, both in the ring and outside, as he puts up with many a humiliation to keep his hopes up.
Singh wrote this film, learned to box, and wrote lyrics for its finest song, Paintra. This is a bonafide labour of love for the actor, and that suits the character he creates. With Shravan Kumar, he gives us a guy willing to move the world for a kiss and a knockout.
Also watch: Simmba Movie Review by Raja Sen
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