India is one of the largest film making countries in the world and it's safe to assume it also holds good rank when it comes to producing TV shows as well. And while most of the stuff we produce are average, the sheer quantity means we produce some absolute gems every year. Which means, every year, there are actors who simply kick the doors open and outshine every body else.
1. Pratik Gandhi- Scam 1992
Pratik Gandhi was already a known name in the Indian theatre scene way before he starred in the critically acclaimed Scam 1992. In fact, in 2016, he played the lead in Gujarati film Wrong Side Raju, a film that not only became a commercial success but also bagged a national award. However, his portrayal of Harshad Mehta in Scam 1992 is what made the laymen aware of his incredible screen presence and brilliant acting. He played Mehta's larger-than-life persona with great conviction and thus has established himself as the next big thing.
2. Rohit Saraf: Ludo
Saraf's role in The Sky Is Pink might have caught everyone's attention but it was his nuanced portrayal of Rahul Awasthi in Anurag Basu's Ludo and later Netflix's Mismatched, that cemented his place in the audience's mind as someone who doesn't need many lines to make his characters understood.
3. Yashaswini Dayama- What Are The Odds
Netflix's What Are The Odds might have not have fared as well as expected, but where it succeeded was showing is what Yashaswini Dayama was capable of. She's not exactly new to the scene. You might have seen her in Delhi Crime, Dear Zindagi, Made In Heaven etc, but it was the role of Vivek that establishes her as one of the new kids on the block to watch out for.
4. Geetika Vidya Ohlyan- Thappad
Thappad was one of the more important films to have released this yea. Both Tapsee Pannu and Kumud Mishra were great in their roles. But there was someone else who was visibly exceptional on the screen, irrespective of how charismatic her scene partners were. Ohlan's Sunita, Amrita's house help and a victim of domestic abuse herself, was one of the most memorable characters of the film and provided the much needed understanding of the fact that domestic violence was less or a class problem, more of a patriarchy problem.
5. Ashok Pathak- Pushpavalli
If you've watched Pushpavali, then you know it is very very difficult to take you eyes off Sumukhi Suresh. She's brilliant as the psychotic stalker. So if someone else manages to leave a lasting impression during a performance like that, you know they are special. Ashok Pathak is special. As T-Boy, he is naïve yet conniving and that hits such a different note. I suppose, it has a lot to do it with good writing but hats off to Pathak for carrying it out with such ease.
6. Priyanshu Painyuli - Mirzapur
Painyuli's Robin was a revelation from Mirzapur Season 2. Mind you, this season's sole focus was vengeance with much much bigger players in the game, all gunning for each other. If this was Wrestlemania, then Robin was the pre-show match. And yet, he was good that it left an instant impact on the viewers with many practically demanding more screen time for him. He also got a trademark line that's since become a meme. So good for him. Here's hoping to see much more of him in the years to come.
7. Vikas Kumar- Aarya
Vikas Kumar is not new to the TV and movie business. He had worked as a dialogue coach in movies like Ishqiya, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and Udaan. He's actually even played a cop before, in Khotey Sikkey. That being said, his previous on-screen performances pale in comparision to the portrayal of the very complicated ACP Khan in Aarya. What made it even better was the fact that he made it look so easy, like something taken out of his daily routine.
8. Jitendra Kumar- Panchayat
Before Panchayat, we all knew him as Jitu bhaiya from Kota Factory. Before that he used to regularly appear on TVF sketches. So, we all knew of his skills as a comic actor. But Panchayat is when he truly came into his own. The show in in itself was well written and directed and was a welcome change from the small town/village crime dramas. That being said, Jitendra Kumar made sure that you felt every bit of the frustration and joy that his character felt in every scene of every episode and that's quite a achievement. Hopefully we get to see him do more shows and movies going into 2021.
9. Ishwak Singh- Paatal Lok
Singh didn't have a lot to do in Paatal Lok. And Jaideep Alhawat's performance made sure your eyes kept looking at him when he was on screen and looking for him when he wasn't. But if the show was about the dark tunnel of reality, it was Ishwak Singh;s character that was the light at the end of this tunnel. His performance was honest, heartfelt, conflicted and yet done with so much conviction that you had no choice but to like him.
10. Manjiri Pupala- Betaal
Betaal was a decent attempt at the whole zombie-horror genre but it did fall flat on its face. That being said, it doesn't mean that there was no silver lining to this debacle. Despite all the lackluster drama that barely made you sit through this film, it was Pupala's performance that shone bright. She is also a brilliant writer and director. So hopefully, we will be blessed with more of her work in the years to come.
These actors have been a welcome gift in our lives in a year that has otherwise been really crappy.