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And 2018's Best Bollywood Actors are...

By Sukanya Verma
Last updated on: January 03, 2019 08:45 IST
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Sukanya Verma curates an impressive list.

2018 was the year when Bollywood's leading men stepped out of their comfort zones to surprise and shatter a beloved imagery or show there's still more to their range than you knew.

It was the year of the artist, not the hero.

And definitely not the superstar.

Sukanya Verma picks her 10 favourite male performances, in no particular order.


Ranbir Kapoor, Sanju

Not only does Ranbir Kapoor achieve an uncanny resemblance to Sanjay Dutt through all his significant stages but also shows complete grasp over his troubled state of mind.

What I loved most about his performance is how it breaks into the darkest areas, even the ones Rajkumar Hirani coyly resists, to bare Dutt's deepest anxieties and irresponsible character.


Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Manto

Someone once told me their favourite thing about Nawazuddin Siddiqui is how he disappears into the crowd, becomes one of them.

Perhaps his everyman identity is what made me initially sceptical of seeing him as the celebrated writer, Saadat Hasan Manto.

But I cannot explain how moved I felt after watching his refined portrayal in and as Manto.

He picks the sur -- in the panic, pride and powerlessness -- of a homesick artist standing by his provocative writings, questioning the legibility of the criticism levelled at him and yet too sensitive to disregard its existence.


Ayushmann Khurrana, Andhadhun

The degree of deceit Andhadhun is building counts on Ayushmann Khurrana's strength to engage, distract and dupe his clueless albeit constantly guesstimating audience.

The duality of his role is most beguiling.

It requires him to step inside the unpredictable events of a script as well in front of the camera, interacting at once without any sense of what he's looking at or into.

Khurrana is brilliant at the bluffing game and has some new tricks up his sleeve.


Vineet Kumar Singh, Mukkabaaz

Mukkabaaz is about a small town underdog's boxing aspirations, a son whose parents think little of his overreaching dreams and a 'lower-caste' bloke in love with the niece of a vicious and influential politician.

All these emotions find rock solid expression in Vineet Kumar Singh's astonishing physicality, meaningful aggression, heartfelt romance and burning desire to rise above his circumstances.


Rajkummar Rao, Omerta

As an actor, Rajkummar Rao has tackled various facets of idealism, naivete and struggle.

In Omerta, he turns irredeemably dark to dwell deep into the making and mind of a terrorist.

The stark brutality of his portrayal as it wilfully submits itself to a dangerous ideology is frightening to watch and highlights an awe-inspiring commitment to versatility.


Vicky Kaushal, Manmarziyaan

As the wannabe Amritsari lad high with an active libido, unable to commit to his work or woman, Vicky Kaushal not only makes a case for a commitment-phobic fool... he ensures sympathy as well.

The perceptive Kaushal laces his character's flamboyant, sexually-charged persona with an odd innocence that sounds terribly contrived on paper but is pure delight on screen.


Gajraj Rao, Badhaai Ho

Gajraj Rao -- yes, that same repulsive cop from Talvar! -- is a picture of adorability and constant source of feel-goodness as the third time daddy-to-be in Badhaai Ho.

He lends a wouldn't-even-hurt-a-fly leniency to his disposition as well as a goofy, awkward charm that makes him both endearing and an easy target.


Varun Dhawan, October

There's no Varun Dhawan in October only Danish 'Dan' Walia.

Dhawan's unstinting belief in and respect for the humanity he's meant to convey manifests in the most special film of his career so far.

Often, we appreciate sincerity in context of an actor making conscious efforts.

But, in October, I attribute it to an actor rising to the challenge.


Saif Ali Khan, Kaalakaandi

Saif Ali Khan is at a stage where staying relevant is more crucial than any reward.

The wantonness with which he dives into Kaalakaandi's psychedelic delirium validates his gradually acquired adventurous streak in ways that will be fondly remembered in retrospect.


Sohum Shah, Tumbbad

Greed wears a robust face and mean masculinity in Sohum Shah's insatiable Vinayak.

Tumbbad is all kinds of fantastical and Shah's sinewy charisma and ruthless drive in pursuing his rapacious goals, until he's fully consumed by its burden, documents this in all its gruesome glory.

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Sukanya Verma