The year 2021 came with a new wave of content and when it comes to films and shows, we got a lot of memorable projects. Along with well-known stars who shined even brighter with their recent ventures, there were many newcomers who got their due appreciation. 

Among the performances which were worth noting, here are a few male actors who had us glued to the screen:  

1. Pankaj Tripathi

There are few actors on whom we have complete faith when it comes to carrying a film on their shoulders. Pankaj Tripathi duly makes it to the list. With Kaagaz the actor brought the real-life story of Lal Bihari Mritak, who was dead on paper. Tripathi slips into any character with ease and brings it alive on the screen. Bharat Lal’s character, which he played in Kaagaz, was no different.

Film Companion

2. Kartik Aaryan 

In the Hindi remake of the Korean film titled The Terror Live, we witnessed an unexplored side of the actor Kartik Aaryan. As a prime-time news anchor embroiled in a tight spot, Aaryan’s character was constantly in the limelight (quite literally). He shifts through various shades of emotions in the film with remarkable ease.  

The Quint

3. Sidharth Malhotra

Another actor who left a mark with his performance was Sidharth Malhotra, who essayed the role of Captain Vikram Batra in Shershaah. He remarkably shouldered the role of the late soldier, beautifully depicting his journey from a student to an army officer. 

The Quint

4. Manoj Bajpayee 

The audience was eagerly waiting for the second installment of the widely popular series and Manoj Bajpayee’s acting was one of the major reasons. The Family Man emerged as a massive hit due to the brilliant performance by the cast. Although the actor is backed by spectacular supporting actors who make every character vital to the story, Bajpayee as Srikant Tiwari earned a different fanbase.

DNA India

5. Adarsh Gourav 

Adarsh Gourav, with his stellar performance, stole the show even when the film featured renowned actors such as Priyanka Chopra and Rajkummar Rao. Based on Aravind Adiga’s novel of the same name, The White Tiger traces the journey of a villager who turns his life around and becomes a successful entrepreneur. The 27-year-old was internationally acclaimed for his nuanced performance and landed a BAFTA nomination in the Best actor. 

The Scroll

6. Vicky Kaushal 

We can’t remember a time when Kaushal has failed to impress us with his earnest performance on screen. Whether as a shy young lad or a fearless soldier, the actor played every character more convincingly each time. With Sardar Udham, he took the challenging role of the titular revolutionary who assassinated Michael O’Dwyer, and flawlessly depicted how grief and suffering transforms him.

The Indian Express

7. Neeraj Madhav 

Neeraj Madhav was hard to miss as Moosa in The Family Man not only owing to the significance of the character but the ruthless and cold-blooded depiction by the actor. And after such a memorable performance, Madhav was almost unrecognizable as a salesperson in Feels Like Ishq. These diverse performances are an accurate glimpse into his range as an actor.

Film Companion

8. Fahadh Faasil  

Joji, which itself is a super cinematic work, featured the incredible Fahadh Faasil who stayed true to his character throughout the film. In a film which breaks the hero-villian dynamic, Faasil features as the central character with utmost brilliance and lives up to his reputation. 

Mid Day

9. Suraj Venjaramoodu

The Great Indian Kitchen helmed by Jeo Baby has a fresh take on sexism and centres around the kitchen, which is considered a place women belong to. The narration of the story is intentionally kept monotonous to make the audience feel the frustration. On the other hand, the actors have a minimal approach to their part which complements the film. Suraj Venjaramoodu, who plays an insensitive husband, manages to strike the right chord without coming off as a villain.  

The Quint

10. Sunny Hinduja 

Another web series that had a similar impact on the audience like The Kota Factory was Aspirants. Although Sandeep Bhaiya, played by Sunny Hinduja, had little screen time, he left a lasting impression on the viewers. Hinduja depicts the conflicted character and his emotional turmoil with ease. 


11. Suriya

The Tamil film Jai Bhim, starring Suriya, depicts the struggles of marginalized communities and talks about caste-based discrimination. The actor plays Chandru, a human rights lawyer, who becomes the guiding light to the Irular tribe. Suriya strips the image of a star and doesn’t let himself cast a shadow over the central theme of the film.


12. Ranjan Raj 

The web-series The Kota Factory clearly had the audience swoon over Jeetu Bhaiya but Balmukund Meena gradually became the ‘nerd’ who impressed us with his simplicity. Actor Ranjan Raj essayed the role of a sincere, small town boy and broke the stereotype of the less humane, nerdy characters we have witnessed so far. 

13. Pavan Malhotra

Bollywood’s underrated gem, Pavan Malhotra delivered one of his career’s finest performances in Tabbar by playing a conflicted father, forced by circumstances to turn against the people he loves – to save his sons. 

Indian Express

These performances were surely, the best of the lot!