Bollywood's Best Actors, 2010
A delightfully atypical list, this. Familiar names have mostly faltered on screen this year, the highest paid men taking second place to new, thrilling faces. To actors hungry for their parts, sinking in their teeth in and biting gratefully hard.
There are young, fiercely talented boys in this list of 10, as well as old legends visibly thrilled by roles with fresh meat. Conventional masala is represented, as is the gritty new wave.
There will doubtless be debate as to the order these names are ranked in -- and that is the best kind of argument, one underscored by applause -- but what is beyond question is that these 10 men gave us performances to marvel at. They gave us characters to remember, characters that saved our films, made us love and loathe, smile and sob.
Here, then, are Bollywood's actors of the year. What do you think?
10. Shah Rukh Khan (My Name Is Khan)
It's never easy to sensitively portray a disorder, and Khan did well by staying very, very consistent during his take on Asberger's Syndrome.
Both poignant moments and laughs were taken on with the same first-unsure-then-convinced, nearly mechanical intonation, even basic words repeated over and over to drill them into the character's brain. Sincere stuff.
Image: Shah Rukh Khan in My Name Is Khan
9. Pradhuman Singh (Tere Bin Laden)
It's a tall order, taking Earth's greatest villain and making him likeable. As a clueless poultry farmer with an unfortunate resemblance to Osama, Singh brought heart and humour to a performance which could well have been mere caricature.
A fool up there with the best of them, his enchanting haplessness knew no bounds.
Image: Pradhuman Singh in Tere Bin Laden
8. Ronit Roy (Udaan)
Coming of age films often hinge on those surrounding the protagonist, and Udaan was no exception. Roy drove the narrative with a hand as firm as the one with which he ruled his son's character, even as he came to grips with, well, a lot.
A solid, stirring performance from an actor we need to see more of.
Image: Ronit Roy in Udaan
7. Arshad Warsi (Ishqiya)
A fine actor often pigeonholed into variants of the same character, Warsi returned to form in this film. Playing a, um, Sulphate of the most lovable kind, this thieving rogue got everything right, from his middle-India accent to his opportunistic timing as he pounced upon a wily widow.
A wonderfully exuberant character, whatever pickle he may be in.
Image: Vidya Balan and Arshad Warsi in Ishqiya
6. Satish Kaushik (Road, Movie)
Very rarely does a performance come across so special that it rises above the scope of the character, making him more critical to the story than initially intended.
Kaushik plays a wheezing, enthusiastic repairman, one who amuses as much as he exasperates. And as he soaks in the magic of cinema through clouds of hashish, he creates a tiny bit all his own.
Image: Abhay Deol, Mohammed Faisal and Satish Kaushik in Road, Movie
5. Nawazuddin Siddiqui (Peepli Live)
Encomiums have usually been reserved for Omkar Das Manikpuri and his portrayal of suicidal farmer Natha, but Peepli [Live] is truly propelled by Siddiqui's local journalist, Rakesh.
A scavenging newshound eager to please a star anchor, he crucially grounds the film. Perhaps the finest statement the film makes, albeit perhaps inadvertently, lies in how a stringer emerges the only real character.
Image: Nawazuddin Siddiqui (centre) in Peepli Live
4. Naseeruddin Shah (Ishqiya)
A crook, soaked in nostalgia. A lover of music, of conversational delicacy, of both tact and tabla. The legendary actor makes Khalujaan special with his little touches, with the way he walks or the way he gasps, and by his romanticism.
As he engages a helpless stranger on a train with his eyes, he embodies the ever-young heart sung of in the background with magnificent ease. Lovely.
Image: Vidya Balan and Naseeruddin Shah in Ishqiya
3. Anshuman Jha (Love Sex aur Dhokha)
It is always difficult singling out a performer in a film with an impressive ensemble, but Jha -- as the reservation-aided film-school student crushing as much on Aditya Chopra as on his heroine -- is a standout.
This is a character so naive, so heartbreakingly optimistic that he seems parodic; Jha makes him real.
Image: Anshuman Jha in Love Sex aur Dhokha
2. Rishi Kapoor (Do Dooni Chaar)
Clearly in the form of his career, Kapoor brings immense warmth and credibility to his middle-class Maths teacher.
This is a man who interrupts dinner to show off a file expressing his own financial inadequacy, and a man who looks for a car in a packet of detergent.
This is a man who must provide for a family, against all odds, and a man who shows us just how thankless life can be, till it isn't.
A bravura performance.
Image: Rishi Kapoor in Do Dooni Chaar
1. Ranveer Singh (Band Baaja Baaraat)
The hero of the year, Singh resurrected the romantic genre with his perfectly pitched and disarmingly real Dilliwalah.
Raggedy around the edges, he's flawed in far too many ways to be any girl's dream. And Singh gets under your skin, with sheer, infectious enthusiasm.
We watch, believing, as he fumbles through friendship, fornication and fallacy, finally delivering the concept of love as fun. As Mauj.
No question sirji, a kaand like this needed a Bittoo Sharma to pull it off. And he does it with immense spirit.
Image: Ranveer Singh in Band Baaja Baaraat