The year 2021 was a difficult one for the movies, but some excellent content and outstanding performances captured our attention and earned our appreciation. With their compelling performances and bold career decisions, these actors genuinely stood out from the pack, ushering in a new age in cinema.
Dhamaka – Kartik Aaryan:
Kartik Aaryan had already won hearts in the romantic comedy genre with his boyish charm, humour, and relatability, but he took a startling turn this year with Dhamaka. In the hard-hitting drama, the talented actor demonstrated his versatility and showed fans a fresh aspect of his playing abilities. He gave not only his best performance of his career, but also one of the best of the year.
Mimi – Kriti Sanon:
Kriti Sanon, the year’s greatest performer, took on the role of a surrogate mother so early in her career; a brave bet that paid out handsomely! Not only did the young celebrity carry the film and have critics and audiences screaming about her performance in Mimi, but she also carried a delicate idea of surrogacy. The film did for her what Raazi and Piku did for Alia Bhatt and Deepika Padukone, putting her on the map as a major talent!
Vicky Kaushal in Udham:
In Udham, Vicky Kaushal offered us another poised, mature, yet gripping performance, convincing us that we all have a revolutionary within us. With aplomb, the actor carried off this patriotic, magnificent, and tough drama.
Tara Sutaria in Tadap:
Tara Sutaria was one of those names who captured us with her pure screen presence. The young girl more than justified her role in a popular commercial film like Tadap, a natural with whom you can’t take your gaze away!
Nushrratt Bharuccha in Chhorii:
Nushrratt Bharuccha has had a busy year, first with Ajeeb Daastans, for which she received an Asian Content Award nomination for Best Actress at the Busan International Film Festival, and then with Chhorii. The film marked a watershed moment in her career since she pushed outside of her comfort zone and took on a film with a powerful message. Many people realised after watching Chhorii that it was past time to start recognising Nushratt as a capable actor. Not to mention the outstanding performance she gave in Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety.
Sherni – Vidya Balan:
Vidya Balan in Sherni is always at war with entrenched patriarchy and battles tooth and nail for what she believes in. Even in the unsettling silences, the actress stood out and made an effect without theatrics.
Ajeeb Daastans – Fatima Sana Shaikh:
Fatima has always been a versatile performer, but her nuanced performance in the anthology Ajeeb Daastans cemented her place as one of the country’s best. Even in silent periods, the actress made an impression, and she was praised for yet another outstanding performance. Ajeeb Daastans, Ankahi Kahaniyaa, and Rashmi Rocket – Abhishek Banerjee Abhishek Banerjee is known for his roles in Ajeeb Daastans and Ankahi Kahaniyaa on the OTT platform, as well as his empowering part in Rashmi Rocket. The actor is already being compared to a younger Pankaj Tripathi, which is a great compliment!
Sohum Shah in Maharani:
Tumbbad star Sohum Shah took on the role of politician Bhima Bharti in Maharani, a complex yet compelling character. What was remarkable was that he played a persona based on Lalu Prasad Yadav in a non-traditional way. Sohum demonstrated that you don’t have to imitate Bihari mannerisms or diction to provide a stunning performance in your own unique way.
Vijay Varma in Ok Computer:
In Anand Gandhi’s sci-fi satire, Vijay Varma played a cyber-cell officer, Sajjan Kundu, a “angry young geek.” He had wowed audiences with online series including A Suitable Boy, She, and Mirzapur 2 before breaking out in the 2019 blockbuster Gully Boy.
Adarsh Gourav in The White Tiger:
Adarsh Gourav’s key to the world of cinema was The White Tiger. For the film, he received the IMDB Breakout STARmeter Award, and it landed him a role in the drama series ‘Extrapolations,’ in which he co-stars with Meryl Streep and David Schwimmer, among others.
Farhan Akhtar in Toofaan:
Farhan Akhtar, the driving force behind Toofaan, nailed everything from the boxing sequences to the emotionally vulnerable passages. To not just play Toofaan, but to become Toofaan, the actor went right down to the character’s skin and underwent a physical metamorphosis for the role.
The Family Man 2:
Manoj Bajpayee Manoj Bajpayee outshone the competition in The Family Man 2 as he has in the majority of his film roles. In the fast-paced and funny series, the actor kept viewers glued to the screen. Manoj Bajpayee is fearless and magnetic, and he sticks to his guns.
Kay Kay Menon in Special Ops 1.5:
In Special Ops 1.5, Kay Kay Menon had yet another outstanding performance. As he navigates murky politics, red tape, and delivers poker-faced observations in his characteristic flair, the actor hits it out of the park.