With only half a year gone by of 2019, we already have several smashing performances by the male actors in Bollywood. The year 2019 opened on a smashing note as both actors and audience seemed more open to experimentation and challenges with respect to content and performances. While the cash registers at the box-office kept ringing, the leading men of Bollywood took up some extraordinary roles onscreen and delivered some exemplary performances.
Be it Vicky Kaushal kickstarting the year with his blockbuster URI to Ayushmann Khurrana winning hearts with Article 15, the first six months of 2019 have been a cinematic delight.
PeepingMoon brings to you a list of top 12 actors which includes luminaries took their films to cinematic glory:
Vicky Kaushal – URI - The Surgical Strike
First things first, Vicky Kaushal is on a roll and no one can deny this. Interestingly, after playing a valiant Pakistani Army officer in Raazi, the actor belted out an applaud-worthy performance as he switched sides to play an invincible Commando of Indian Army in Aditya Dhar's URI -The Surgical Strike. As Major Vihaan Shergill, Vicky was impressive and easily one of the best things to happen to Bollywood since Ranbir Kapoor, Ranveer Singh and Varun Dhawan came along. He was inspiring as the stony-faced Major who restrains his grief to lead his commandoes with the rousing war cry, “How is the josh?” all through the film. And yes, he did manage to convert the slogan into a national hysteria.
The film released on January 11, 2019, and has become one of the top grosser of the year, till now.
Nawazuddin Siddiqui – Thackeray
First things first, Nawazuddin Siddiqui was a dead ringer for Balasaheb Thackeray. Producer Sanjay Raut, who zeroed in on the actor, could not have chosen better as the biopic on the life of late the Shiv Sena supremo, Balasaheb Thackeray. He roared like a tiger from Shivaji Park on the occasion of the party’s Dussehra rally, but his decisions and policies, his threats and fatwas, were all made from within Matoshree in a soft voice of deadly and purposeful intent. And Nawaz left no stone unturned to shine through, belting out one of the best performances in his career.
The film released on January 25, 2019, but despite rave reviews failed to attract audiences to the theatre.
Anil Kapoor – Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga
As Balbir Chaudhary in Shelly Chopra Dhar’s film Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga, Anil Kapoor undoubtedly was in top form as the father challenged by extreme unfamiliarity, finding his daughter’s (Sonam Kapoor) lesbianism hard to swallow, yet he deals with the utmost kindness. He, as the patriarch who loves watching cookery shows and had dreams of becoming 'India's best chef', is a delight to watch. But in a small town like his, where these closet topics are never addressed, Anil stands by her daughter brave choice of accepting her love, sexuality, and moves beyond the cruel-dad cliché mould.
The film released on February 1, 2019, and received a lukewarm response at the box office. While critics panned the film for not being too brave, it managed to create all the right noises, courtesy the stellar cast.
Ranveer Singh – Gully Boy
It is Slumdog with Swag! Ranveer Singh 'ka time aa gaya' would be the apt expression to sum the performance put up by this brilliant actor in Zoya Akhtar's directorial. A mild-mannered Ranveer aka Murad Sheikh, who later earns the rapper name Gully Boy, sets the premise of this mainstream rap musical about a Muslim boy from the slums of Dharavi in Mumbai with an ambitious dream. No prizes for guessing it’s Ranveer’s show. He owns every frame in this outstanding ensemble cast film, giving a bahot hard’ performance and introducing the love for 'rap' music in our lives.
The film released on February 14, 2019, and was an instant HIT with critics and box office alike!
Kartik Aaryan – Luka Chuppi
In Laxman Utekar’s Luka Chuppi, Kartik’s character Guddu takes the plunge and enters into a live-in relationship set up with his girlfriend (Kriti Sanon). The catch is - the two hail from Mathura and decide to experiment the move in Gwalior! In this otherwise average film, Kartik holds his own among the ensemble cast and emotes the grimaces and grins aptly, when matters get out of hand. What works for Kartik is him playing the small-time boy who is at the receiving end of a mess he didn’t make, and yes, this time there were no misogynistic dialogues (cue Pyar Ka Punchnaama 1, 2 and 3, aka Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety), making it a work in the actor's favour.
The film released on March 1, 2019 and despite mediocre reviews by the critics, turned out to be a box office success.
Amitabh Bachchan – Badla
Badla saw Amitabh Bachchan playing a sort of lawyer-investigator preparing murder accused (Taapsee) to face the prosecution. Big B's most diehard fans needed some reason to forgive him for accepting Thugs of Hindostan with director Sujoy Ghosh's adaptation of the foreign film The Invisible Guest. Backed with equally stupendous female costars (Taapsee and Amrita Singh), Big B was himself in Badla, the baritone voice was gravelly and his expressions sympathetic, thoughtful, then cunning and meaningful!
The film released on March 8, 2019. Produced by Shah Rukh Khan, the film tuned out to be the sleeper hit of the year, with an astounding word of mouth helping the film sail through.
Akshay Kumar – Kesari
The real Battle of Saragarhi was bloodily fought between 21 valiant Sikh soldiers of the British Army’s Sikh Regiment on September 12, 1897 and 10,000 Afghani invaders. The hero of this epic war film was undoubtedly Akshay Kumar. Like his character in Kesari, the disciplinarian Havildar Ishar Singh who fearlessly leads a ragtag unit of Sikh soldiers in the blood-and-guts battle to death, Akshay delivered a powerful and soul-stirring performance. In uniform and wearing a turban, chest-thumping his loyalty to his duty and proudly bearing the fluttering saffron Nishan Sahib (the Sikh flag) on his sword when he goes to war, he was unmatchable in writer-director Anurag Singh's patriotic offing.
The rousing patriotic film released on March 21, 2019 and solely rode to success on Akshay's back.
Varun Dhawan – Kalank
Thank God for Varun Dhawan, or shall we thank director Abhishek Varman for casting this phenomenal actor as Zafar in Kalank. Let’s agree, that was the film's only saving grace. Varun's like the blacksmith’s (that he plays) cauldron and goes from cool to blazing hot with just a pump of the bellows. A complex love story set during India’s Partition era saw Varun sinking his teeth into a sizeable role, an making the most out of an otherwise underwhelming film. A 'najayaz aulaad', Varun's burning angst against his mother, (a famed courtesan Bahar Begum aka Madhuri Dixit), for the shame he has to bear for his illegitimacy and an aim to exact vengeance from his father (Sanjay Dutt), stays the high point of his performance.
The film released on April 17, 2019, and tanked at the box office, miserably. What saved Kalank, was probably Varun's act - mature yet vulnerable brimming with pain and anger.
Arjun Kapoor – India’s Most Wanted
Even though Raj Kumar Gupta’s thriller India’s Most Wanted did not do well at the box-office, it was the film’s lead Arjun Kapoor who garnered the much-needed appreciation through his performance. As Prabhat Kapoor, all Arjun wanted to do was save his nation. The film is based on the 2013 counter-terrorism mission by the Intelligence Bureau to capture Indian Mujahideen founder, Yasin Bhatkal. Arjun was as fiercely patriotic as they come and his josh was different. He stood out by his sheer size and wore that deadpan cop expression with ease. His earnest performance, underplayed emotions, delivering dialogues minus any dramatics, summed up one of the best performances from the actor.
The film released on May 24, 2019, bombed at the box office, a fate which it shouldn't have faced.
Salman Khan – Bharat
Director Ali Abbas Zafar’s Eid offering Bharat’s identity was synonyms with only Salman Khan. Bharat’s journey spans over seven decades, from when he was a seven-year-old boy at the Atari Railway Station to being 70 at the Wagah border. After Bajrangi Bhaijaan, this was Salman’s best work in terms of performance. He's the soul of the film. Salman got to show off his emotional chops and received thumbs up for making a 'family' film, despite few critics lashing at the absurdity of showing the enigmatic actor aged 70! But Bharat aka Salman was loved by the entire nation, and the film's shattering box office success is the proof!
The film released on June 5, 2019, and was the perfect 'Eidi' for Bhai's fans and producers.
Shahid Kapoor – Kabir Singh
Shahid Kapoor’s biggest hit and why not – the actor walked, talked and looked a rebellious Kabir Singh in Sandeep Reddy Vanga’s Hindi remake of super hit Telugu film Arjun Reddy. While it is difficult to justify male violence in this day and age, Shahid understood this zone perfectly. In a male-centric film such as this, it was very easy to slip into the egoism of the central character but Shahid avoided all these pitfalls and followed Kabir’s graph smoothly. From vulnerability to violence, Kabir Singh didn't become larger than life because Shahid kept him in check. We don’t see him as a glorified celluloid Hercules: but as the regular, privileged, arrogant and angry man with no reins.
The film released on June 21, 2019, and has been lashed out mercilessly by women and critics alike for propagating misogyny and toxic masculinity, since then. However, the film is nearing Rs 250 crore box office mark any day now, making the biggest hit of 2019 as of now.
Ayushmann Khurrana – Article 15
Ayushmann Khurrana turned the tables with his performance in Anubhav Sinha's Article 15. Ayushmann’s cop, the IPS officer Ayan Ranjan who gets a punishment posting to Lalgaon Police Station in the caste-ridden heartland of India, is sensitive and suave but without blood and guts because this is not that kind of film. Director Anubhav Sinha managed to extract one of Ayushmann’s finest performances by getting the actor not to emote but to express himself with silences and stares. Anubhav also delivered a strong message without sugar-coating the bitter facts. Making a strong case for himself in this immensely talented laden ensemble, Ayushmann got under the skin of his character and how!
The film released on June 28, 2019 and has been winning critics applause and box office battle with slow and steady steps. Courting the negative take from fringe groups, Ayuhsmann and his film has managed to evoke the right conversation in the nation.
With so many breathtaking performances in the first half itself, we cannot wait to see what is in store for us in the next half of 2019.