Veterans to newcomers, each actor pleasantly surprised us with their brilliant performances in 2021 and the latter left a lasting impression on our hearts. We were introduced to characters which would be cherished for a long time. And the ‘side characters’ were brought to the limelight with the brilliant performances. 

Here's a look at our favourite breakout stars of Indian films and web series of 2021:


1. Neeraj Madhav

The actor who featured as a brutal anti-hero in the web-series The Family Man, appeared as a naive salesperson in the anthology Feels Like Ishq. Even though his screen time lasted for a few minutes, the impact of his performance was long lasting.  

2. Adarsh Gourav 

Gourav truly emerged as a star after delivering a stellar performance in The White Tiger. The storyline of the film dealt with the class divide in the country and narrates it through the journey of Balram Halwai, who works as a chauffeur to a rich businessman.  

3. Amol Parashar

Besides Vicky Kaushal, who featured in the titular character in Sardar Udham, Parashar was in the spotlight as he aced in his portrayal of Bhagat Singh. The nuances that the actor got right with the character makes his performance stay with you even after you leave the theater. 

4. Sunny Hinduja 

Sunny Hinduja shone through his character, Sandeep Bhaiya, in Aspirants. His dedication towards the role overshadowed even the main characters. And when you remember an actor by his character’s name, you know that’s a result of an outstanding performance. 

5. Samantha Ruth Prabhu 

The second installment of The Family Man marked Samantha Ruth Prabhu's digital debut. The actor got everyone talking after playing the ruthless Raji, a Sri Lankan Tamil liberation fighter. Although she had a few dialogues her acting skills did the work. 

6. Nimisha Sajayan 

The Great Indian Kitchen was one of the films that wasn’t worth missing out on. Nimisha, who plays the central character of the wife, beautifully portrayed the struggles of a woman caged in the patriarchal norms.  

7. Ashlesha Thakur 

Most characters in the web series The Family Man are memorable, some expected and others pleasantly surprising. Among the veteran actors, the young actor Ashlesha Thakur, who plays the rebellious teenage daughter of Srikant Tiwari, carved her place.

8. Ahsaas Channa 

The actor who has been on screen since a young age, returned only to rule the OTT platforms. Ahsaas Channa has played diverse characters in numerous web-based projects and the recent one being the popular Kota Factory. 

9. Ranjan Raj

In the same web-show, we were introduced to a newfound talent in the form of Meena. The honesty and empathy that the actor brings to his role makes him stand out even among the finely etched characters. 

10. Abhilash Thapliyal

Whether you have ever aspired to crack the UPSC exam or not, the show Aspirants resonates with you. Abhilash Thapliyal plays the role of SK Sir, an unsuccessful UPSC student turned teacher, made the character into audience’s favorite. And we can never be bored of his motivational monologues.  

11. Zoya Hussain

The series Grahan which made the 1984 anti-Sikh riots a jumping off point, has many layers besides being a period drama. Zoya Hussain, who made a mark with Mukkebaaz, returned to the screen as a character torn between her duty as a police officer and her position as a daughter. Hussain remarkably portrays the dilemma of a daughter without being melodramatic. 

These actors left us wanting for more and longing for their comeback in 2022.