Yearender 2021: The best performances of the year

Written By: Shomini Sen

The pandemic showed no signs of slowing down in 2021 and OTT became our refuge for comfort amid second wave and lockdown. Filmmakers told bolder, complex stories on OTT and as theatres opened in the second half of the year, we celebrated righteous cops, an underdog cricket team and a love story between a transwoman and a cis man. From discovering new talents to celebrating the ever-dependable, here is our list of best performers of 2021. 

Adarsh Gourav, The White Tiger

Adarsh Gourav was a known face on OTT but his portrayal as the sharp, underdog Balram Halwai in 'The White Tiger' catapulted him to international fame and rightly so. Gourav created a persona the world has come to love and appreciate. His honest portrayal of the brutal yet vulnerable Balram fetched him a BAFTA nomination too.
 

(Photograph:WION)

Sanya Malhotra, Pagglait

In Umesh Bisht’s ‘Pagglait’, Sanya Malhotra brought in the right amount of vulnerability to her character of a young woman trying to come to terms with the death of husband amid a grieving family. She brought in the right amount of innocence, and charm to her character. Malhotra, over a very short period of time, has proved her versitality in each of her films. She is undoubtedly one of the best talents we have right now in the hindi film industry. Malhotra’ Sandhya doesn’t immediately feel the pain of her husband’s untimely demise and takes time to come to terms with the fact that he was in love with some other woman untill they got married. Her preformance as Sandhya is that of restraint, which comes out beautifully on the screen. 
 

(Photograph:Twitter)

Samantha Ruth Prabhu, 'Family Man 2'

Next on the list is the super talented Samantha Ruth Prabhu. Her portrayal of woman member of terror outfit in 'Family Man 2' made people sit up and take notice of her talent. Already a star in south Indian language films, Samantha managed to impress critics and fans alike with her sensitive portrayal of Rajji. In the series, she played someone who goes miles and gives up her life to achieve her goal.She looked the part, walked the talk and has created history with her work. 
 

(Photograph:WION Web Team)

Sidharth Malhotra, Shershaah

Siddharth Malhotra comes of his own in war film ‘Shershaah’- based on Kargil hero Captain Vikram Batra, Malhotra’s portrayal was lauded for showing the human aspect of a national hero who died fighting for his country. Stories of his bravery at the borer have been discussed for years, but Malhotra’s mature performance as the daredevil young man, with usual vulnerabilities won hearts this year. 
 

(Photograph:Twitter)

Konkona Sen Sharma, Geeli Pucchi in Ajeeb Daastaans

It is always a delight to watch Konkona Sen Sharma. Actor and filmmaker par excellence, Konkona played Bharti Mandal, a Dalit gay woman in a complex relationship with a upper caste woman Priya played by Aditi Rao Hydari. Konkona’s character was a complex one and something that we had never seen Konkona play before. But Neeraj Ghaywan’s deft writing and Konkona’s credible performance made Bharti stand out in the anthology ‘Ajeeb Daastaans’.
 

(Photograph:Twitter)

Vidya Balan, Sherni

Is there any role that Vidya Balan cannot do? In Amit Masurkar’s ‘Sherni’, Balan tackles patriarchy, misogyny, and a man- eating tiger with equal ease. Balan keeps her natural charm at bay, instead plays a no-nonsense, calm and righteous forest officer who has to prove herself and break a few norms on the way. Its a delightful and different film and Balan is equally good. 
 

(Photograph:Twitter)

Vicky Kaushal, Sardar Udham 

Vicky Kaushal had an important year this year- not just personally but also professionally. Kaushal and Shoojit Sircar teamed up to narrate a telling story of Indian freedom fighter Udham Singh. Kaushal’s craft as an actor was in display in a film that narrated the story of a revolutionary who never gave up till he achieved his goal. The scenes which had Kaushal’s character collecting bodies from the Jallianwala Bagh were well executed and left a lasting impression on viewers. 

(Photograph:Twitter)

Taapsee Pannu, Rashmi Rocket

Taapsee Pannu has time and again proved that she can deliver irrespective of difficult a role it may be. In Akarsh Khurana’s ‘Rashmi Rocket’, Pannu played a spirited, bright and talented athlete who gets embroiled in a false case at the peak of her athletic career. How she over comes the hurdles and gets back to track forms the rest of the story. 
 

(Photograph:Twitter)

Ranveer Singh, 83

The versatile Ranveer Singh can play a mad king and a legendary cricketer with equal ease. In Kabir Khan’s ‘83’, Ranveer Singh sheds his superstar image and becomes the shy but determined team captain Kapil Dev so beautifully that one forgets Singh’s previous successful screen characters. A film that narrates the story of how the underdog Indian cricket team won the first cricket World Cup for India in 1983 was a story of winning back pride for the country and Singh lead the show well. 
 

(Photograph:Twitter)

Notable mentions

Sushmita Sen once again proved she was a force to reckon with in ‘Aarya 2’. Mohit Raina turned heroic doctor who led a tense emergency room as terrorists attacked his hospital ‘Mumbai Diaries 26/11’. In ‘Tabbar’, the veteran Pawan Malhotra plays the righteous father who has to deal with unexpected crisis with much grace. Vaani Kapoor brought in the grace that was required while playing a transwoman in ‘Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui’ and Manoj Bajpayee charmed his way into our hearts as kleptomaniac singer in ‘Hungama Kyu Hai Barpa’ in ‘Ray’. 
 

(Photograph:Twitter)

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