1. Nawazuddin Siddiqui in Manto: He lived breathed and exhaled the life of the great Urdu author Saddat HaasanManto in this curvaceous bio-pic directed by Nandita Das. Nawaz didn’t unravel the mystique of the artiste-litterateur. He simply wrapped his personality around Manto, absorbing and ingesting Manto’s pain-lashed words. This was Nawaz at his best.
2. Rani Mukherjee in Hichki: The danger of portraying disabled characrters is that the ailment ends up being a gimmick to gain audiences’ sympathy. It is to Rani Mukerjee’s credit that she did not allow her affliction to be reduced to a formula. Not once did that alarming sound from her throat become an irritant . We were watching the character Naina Mathur struggle with Tourette Syndrome.Who is Rani Mukherjee?
3. Diljit Dosanjh in Soorma: Playing the real-life hockey champ Sandeep Singh Diljit breathed life into the character. He didn’t ‘play’ Sandeep Singh. He internalized the struggles of the character so effortlessly that we could no longer see Diljit on screen. A truly award -worthy performance.
4. Alia Bhatt in Raazi: What I found more exceptional than Alia’s performance(no doubt outstanding in its own right) was her ability to understand a world she had never encountered in her life. The true hallmark of great talent.Playing an Indian spy-bride in Pakistan she shone in every frame as only Alia can.
5. Varun Dhawan in October: Varun moved away from his comfort zone to get into the skin of a character who believes a girl in a coma has feelings for him. The flimsy emotional ground was built into a character whose obstinacy defines the very essence of unconditional love. For Varun, this was a jump into another world, not quite as alien to him as the Pakistani bride-spy’s world was for Alia. But still distant enough to prove Varun’s evolving talent.
6. Shefali Shah in Once Again: In this Netflix nugget on finding love after middleage Shefali Shah was cast as a lonely restaurateur discovering companionship in an equally lonely film actor.Shefali mapped out her character’s inner world with razor-sharp precision. All the unanswered questions a woman’s right to a life after divorce motherhood and middlage were there on her face.Not one false not here.
7. Akshay Kumar in Padman: Yet another real-life character , this time the man who invented the economical sanitary pad for financially challenged women. Make no mistake, Akshay is back playing the social crusader. In Toilet Ek Prem Katha he fought societal prejudices to build a toilet for his wife. Here in Padman his character goes to great lengths to conceive create and promote economical sanitary napkins because….well…because when a woman bleeds, our Padman’s heart bleeds.In just two minutes Akshay communicates to us the urgent need to end the feminine race’s menstrual discomfort.
8. Tabu In Andha Dhun: Seriously vampish, Tabu playing a husband-killer effortlessly conveyed her pleasure in being bad. She loved every evil moment of her character’s existence.
9. Ranbir Kapoor In Sanju: In a film fatally flawed and felled by its uncontrollable desire to turn its criminal hero into a martyr, Ranbir dazzled as Sanjay Dutt. Dutt may not be anything like how Ranbir played him. But I am sure Dutt would like to be the way Kapoor played him.
10. Ranveer-Deepika In Padmaavat: Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh bring an exquisite operatic duet-like feeling to their antagonistic parts.Though they sing the same song from different scales,they are like the earth and sky never destined to meet .Ironically they met in real life.Till death do they part.