1. Gajaraj Rao In Badhaai Ho: As Ayushmann Khurrana’s shy selfmade railway booking-clerk father in Badhaai Howho willy-nilly impregnates his wife at an unthinkable age, Gajaraj Rao brought so much empathy and warmth to his character, we never judge Rao’s character Kaushik.We are just happy he gets a chance to look lovingly at his wife at an age when he should not be thinking of the birds and the bees.In a film teeming with assured performance Rao stood tall . Later bloomer. But what a bloom!
2. Jim Sarbh in Padmaavat: While the plot’s focus was almost entirely on Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone, the unorthodox Jim Sarbh as Allauddin Khilji’s vicious ruthless transgender manfriday-loverboy blew the screen apart with his whiny sadism. It was the first time that mainstream Hindi cinema dared to show true carnal passion that a man felt for another man.In that sense this was a pathbreaking performance.
3. Arunodoy Singh In Blackmail: As Divya Dutta’s absurdly henpecked husband Arunodoy displayed a new side to his personality. He was like a petrified oversized tomcat afraid to face his nemesis after repeatedly devouring on forbidden bowls of fullcream milk. Here was a performance that wasn’t afraid to let it all hang out even if it made him look extravagantly idiotic.
4. Ashutosh Rana In Mulk: The ensemble cast in this dark tale of Islamic isolation shone brightly. None brighter than the irrepressible Rana who bit and chew into his role of the fundamentalist Hindu lawyer who spat venom at the Muslim community , branding their children terrorists, etc, with such casual straightforwardness. Rana made the absurd sound chillingly authentic. That rhetorical tone of voice and the smirk…I couldn’t sleep for days.
5. Aparshakti Khurrana In Stree: Of course Rajkummar Rao as the naïve tailor stole the show. But Aparshakti as his incredulous best friend was a howl and a hoot. In fact Hindi cinema has a history of brilliant actors stealing the show as the hero’s best friend. I only hope Aparshakti doesn’t get typecast as the sidekick. He is much more thanRajendranath to Rajendra Kumar.
6. Girish Kulkarni in Fanney Khan: Some will remember him as the mean wrestling coach in Dangal. More recently he was brilliant in a cameo in Sacred Games. This chameleon like Marathi actor was superlative asAishwarya Rai Bachchan’s slimy music manager in Fanney Khan.Not missing a single heartbeat in the character’s opportunism , Kulkarni once again showed us that good actors in Bollywood are like potatoes in a fancy vegetable dish. We take them for granted.
7. Arif Zakaria In Raazi: As the Pakistani family’s loyal Man-Friday who sees through the new Bahu’s hidden agenda, Arif Zakaria brought a glorious gravitas and a snide wisdom to his role. Kudos to the unsung hero of a highly acclaimed film where Alia Bhatt simply took over.
8.Neena Gupta in Badhaai Ho: Wasn’t it just the other day when this underrated actress cribbed about being left out in the cold? Now here she is playing a distressed 50-plus housewife who finds herself….errr…pregnant. Neena nailed the woman’s dignified responses to a situation that makes her the brunt of memes,in a manner of speaking.
9. Manisha Koirala in Sanju: Ina film brimming over with over-the-top performances this ever-incandescent actress brought a vivid vibrancy to her role as the legendary actressNargis, laughing and whistling , loving her errant son to death, literally.Someone should make a Nargis bio-pic with Manisha.
10. Saurabh Shukla in Raid: The uncouth boorish arrogant North Indian politician…sounds familiar? But see how Shukla pumped up the predictable part with passion and punch.Bhaiyya issko kehte hain scene stealer.