With 2018, we haven’t merely emerged into “The Bollywood” where better films are accepted but also witnessed how well the female characters are being treated in them. Of course, there still is a lot that needs to be done to ameliorate female representation in art and cinema, a step in the positive direction is always good news (until you take two steps back). While the industry is changing its norms with respect to its female artists, the latter has also become more serious for their work and are becoming increasingly competitive which can be explained by how brilliantly many debutants have performed this year. As evident, listing the best 10 from a long rota of marvellous acts was not a five-finger exercise for me. Anyhow I did my job and only you can tell me how right or wrong I finally was.
Honourable Mentions: –
Neena Gupta – Badhaai Ho
Rasika Duggal – Manto
Mouni Roy – Gold
Zoya Hussein – Mukkabaaz
Shobhita Dhulipala – Kaalakaandi
Sara Ali Khan – Kedarnath
Katrina Kaif, Anushka Sharma – Zero
Richa Chaddha, Frieda Pinto – Love Sonia
10. Deepika Padukone – Padmaavat
Deepika Padukone’s acting prowess requires no introduction. It’s been quite a long time that she has taken the place of Vidya Balan as the present queen of Bollywood and she has certainly lived up to it. While acting and emoting are obviously her best traits, her grace both on and off the screen and in any kind of character is also a worthy virtue that catapults her way ahead from most actresses in the industry. Though we generally talk about Ranveer Singh’s performance in Padmaavat, it’s also true that Padukone wasn’t too far behind in her act either. Her stature, onscreen persona and her enviable confidence, melded with her immaculateness as an actor, made her presence a lot more effective. Also, her ability to switch between different moods of emotions is well discernible in the film. This may not be her best performance, but it’s wonderful enough to have a high opinion of.
9. Tabu – Andhadhun
As much as I was unimpressed with Andhadhun, I had a lot of admiration for its performances especially that of veteran actress Tabu. She has been in this industry for more than two decades now and has generally preferred meaty characters instead of the glamorous and unidimensional ones. Though her character, who was the antagonist, seemed more like a straight-edged crafted personality, Tabu explores her different shades in a rather obtrusive manner. People paying attention to the film and hence her work could definitely read her variations and mood shifts which were not only perfect but incredibly amusing too given the film’s darkly comic tone. Her presence even ameliorates the performance of Ayushmann Khuranna who seemed to have taken the limelight owing to his star status and his reputation of choosing films with good scripts. However, it’s Tabu who is the real MVP of Andhadhun and there can be no second opinion to that.
8. Taapsee – Manmarziyaan
Anurag Kashyap’s Manmarziyaan can be considered as a modern retelling of the Bollywood classic Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. Nonetheless, there are many discernible elements that heavily distinguish both the films and make the former an excellent film on its own terms. One of them, and predominantly among the most important aspect of it is Taapsee’s performance. Unlike Aishwarya Rai’s character in the Sanjay Leela Bhansali classic, Taapsee’s character Rumi is not a shy, timid or submissive girl. She is a fiery youngster blazing with the warm blood of youth which shows up in her fervent passion for her lover. However, she also opens up her softer and more matured side to her husband which exhibits a delectable delicateness. Taapsee lives up to her character’s demanding attributes and pulls off a performance which is convincingly real. As a result of her performance, it’s easier to empathise with her character even when she is not on the right side. However, I do believe that there’s more to this acting powerhouse and Manmarziyaan’s Rumi is just the tip of the iceberg.
7. Radhika Madan – Pataakha
2018 was the year of youngsters and newcomers, and the visibility of the same was more prominent among the female artists. Of course, listing out the best 10 has filtered some terrific performances by the debutants from the list. Nonetheless, some have managed to make their mark into it and Radhika Madan is our first entrant. Apart from Pataakha, her only other acting credit was in a Hindi daily soap which could hardly showcase her acting skills for various reasons which we won’t be wasting our time on. However, in this film, she was a revelation! Not only did we realise that she could act, but we also found out that she had a pretty appreciable range as an actor and could take up versatile roles with great results. It’s true that for most of the film her mood is that of anger and frustration, she brings out other humane emotions such as love, happiness, envy and despair quite well. While obviously she was surrounded by a highly talented cast and crew, she easily manages to make her mark with her rather boisterous and over-energetic character and gives a performance any debutant can only dream of.
6. Sanya Malhotra – Pataakha
Although well known to the Indian masses thanks to her splendid debut in Dangal, Sanya Malhotra is still fairly new and Pataakha was her second only movie as an actor. Despite her newness to the entire industry, she performs like an established star in the film which is strongly visible in her demeanour as Chutki. Along with her co-star and onscreen sister Radhika Madan, she sets up a truly bizarre atmosphere without any glamour but with an impassioned display of rage and insanity. She displays various emotions all ranging from delightfulness to extreme hatred quite effortlessly which brings forward her flexibility as an actor to the masses. Her chemistry with all other actors is spot on and though she plays the younger sibling, she slightly dominates it over Radhika which is why she is a step ahead of her in this list.
5. Surekha Sikri – Badhaai Ho
Though talent and hard work are the most important attributes in any artist in any field, it’s difficult to deny that many times experience also counts. Surekha Sikri is not a new face to the Indian junta and her resume extends in positive directions on both the bigger screen and the smaller one. Hence, her protean nature as a thespian is not news for people and while she can perform both positive and negative characters effectively, she somewhat played both in Badhaai Ho. As stated in my previous articles, Badhaai Ho was carried on by its veteran actors and not the youngsters as one would expect and Sikri, regardless of being a supporting character, outshined everyone in the frame. Her transition from a tough personality to a soft, loving and understanding character is no less than perfect and while she becomes heavy for her onscreen family in her former self, the audience loved her in both the avatars as always. Despite her old age, Sikri pours in a lot of energy in her character and the scene where she takes a stand for her daughter-in-law is one of the best acting moments of the previous year, seeing which one will understand as to why I honour an actor’s experience along with his/her talents, and why this role was meant only and only for Sikri and no one else.
4. Mrunal Thakur – Love Sonia
Choosing a role like that of Sonia in a heart-rendering and sort of gruesome film like Love Sonia needs more than just acting talent; it demands a hell lot of guts and I never thought that Mrunal Thakur would be one’s choice for it. Just like Radhika Madan, she has ventured onto the big screen from TV serials and has a fairly larger resume while also having a reputation of being a good performer. But this film was a completely tough choice for any actress let alone a newcomer like Mrunal. The role was a lot of work, a lot of emotions and a hell lot of dread, and not once does this lass falter albeit being surrounded by acting giants like Manoj Bajpayee, Richa Chaddha, Rajkummar Rao, and the like. Being the protagonist, she’s the weight and soul of the entire film and she performs her job in the most satisfactory way possible, even making the viewers pass on film’s dubious sequences owing to her emotionally draining act which in spite of its excellence, can be too heavy for the weak-hearted.
3. Anushka Sharma – Pari
I always believe that Anushka Sharma deserves more applauds and acknowledgement as a talented actress than she generally gets. She’s always in the headlines for her relationship with her husband and cricketer Virat Kohli but rarely do the media outlets discuss how great she is as an actress. Much alike Deepika Padukone, she is capable of playing glamorous roles and also the roles that demand more efforts from the actor within (although sometimes both these traits overlap in a character and it’s only understandable that she is capable of doing that too). As Rukshana in Pari, Sharma plays an uncanny mixture of a humanely scary figure who is capable of scaring you at one time while also induce a feeling of sympathy for her ordeals at another. As it seems her character has been built upon strange grounds and while the direction is necessary to bring out a fruitful outcome, it wouldn’t have been possible without the artistry of Sharma as a performer who meshes both the personas into one body flawlessly. Rukhsana is that sort of a character which is both physically and emotionally draining and one can only be awestruck to see how the actor in discussion executes her character so impeccably. Just like NH10, Pari is a film that puts forward Sharma as a reliable actress and is a shining entry into her already impressive resume.
2. Rani Mukherjee – Hichki
Bringing in the experienced into the field again! Rani Mukherjee’s versatility and excellence in the thespian arts is always awe-inducing despite this being her third decade in the showbiz industry. She is one of the most complete actresses to have ever worked in Bollywood and has performed in films of almost all kinds with any sort of character that comes to your mind, and has always managed to impress the audience irrespective of the film’s verdict. When I first saw the trailer of Hichki (meaning hiccups), I was sceptical of how I would like this film as I was nettled by the incessant hiccups of Mukherjee’s character Naina, which constituted more than half of the trailer. However, the film and Mukherjee’s rendition of her character surprised me and despite their clichéd built-up, managed to provide something fresh through a disheartening yet comical portrayal of the Tourette Syndrome which is what Naina suffers from. As easy as it may seem, portraying a character like that and with such perfection is not a child’s play. It requires a lot of maturity and understanding to execute a personality with such intricate layers depicting both her social and emotional conflicts while making them look overtly simple. On the top of that Mukherjee’s confidence and ever radiant onscreen presence enhances her gratifying performance and in turn, the film’s splendidness as well. With a string of different roles in the last decade which includes her performance in Hichki as well, I’m curious to see what else this acting giant has in her bag for us in her future ventures.
1. Alia Bhatt – Raazi
Alia Bhatt may have more than half a decade of experience in the film industry and is still fairly as young as most newcomers, she is a league ahead of most actresses (and even actors) regardless of their experience in the industry. Apart from her glam roles, she has impressed us previously in de-glammed and grounded avatars like that in Highway and Udta Punjab but with Raazi she adds maturity to her performance as well, something which we yearned from her side for quite long. As Sehmat, she blends the characteristics of a headstrong girl with that of an emotionally sensitive character with such perfection that one cannot discern how distinguishing both the personas can be even in two different people. Though highly flawed and imperfect in its making, Raazi’s strongest virtue is Bhatt’s performance which supports the film throughout its run while also outshining the likes of many powerful actors, both veterans and newcomers. While her brilliant resume still has a lot of blanks to be filled up, I strongly believe with performances and consistency like this, Alia Bhatt might become one of the most accomplished actresses in Indian cinema whose presence will be more than enough to sell a film.
What do you think of this list? Which performances do you think should have featured here? Let us know in the comments and throw in your valuable suggestions to make our blog and articles better.