Here we are with the countdown for the Top 10 Actors of the Year. The emphasis in this prestigious – some might argue, the most prestigious – section of our annual review is on Acting ability, with a capital A – not just the actor with the biggest fan base, the most developed, though hideous-looking, six-pack, or best behaved little-boy cheekiness.
Always a very competitive field, such is the strength and depth of the Bollywood acting fraternity, there are always tough decisions to be made in producing the list each year – and each of you will no doubt have your own opinions on who should feature where and when, but here we go with the final decision, the official, the one-and-only, the genuine BollySpice Top 10 Actors of 2009:
Launching the list in tenth place is Salman Khan for the monster hit Wanted. After a couple of years of given the impression that he didn’t really care anymore, Salman was able to produce a startling performance in this remake of the southern hit Pokkiri. It was a shame that he wasted his time somewhat on London Dreams and Main aur Mrs Khanna, but the prognosis for 2010 looks good with the early vibes surrounding the historical epic Veer sounding very clear and sharp indeed. In support of the movie, which it’s rumoured he offered the leading woman’s part to Katrina Kaif before Zarine Khan, he has launched a competition to find some real life Veers.
In ninth position rests Neil Nitin Mukesh, rapidly building a reputation for himself as a serious actor who prefers serious projects. New York, Jail and his appearance in the festival favourite Tere Kya Hoga Johnny are testament to his ability. There also appear to be no bounds to his commitment to a movie as he spent a night in jail to promote the eponymous film. Next year, he may well be knocking on the door of number one. He’s also going to be busy getting married to Priyanka Bhatia and launching a trust fund to help needy women.
Sharman Joshi made a big, big name for himself in 3 Idiots and grabs the eighth position. But it isn’t just for 3 Idiots that Sharman makes the list. He also made a strong appearance in Allah ke Banday, a film about two twelve-year olds struggling to survive in a Mumbai slum surrounded by drugs, crime and prostitution. Look out for him in 2010 in the delightful Toh Baat Pakki with Tabu.
Riding the waves at number seven is all-round genius Farhan Akhtar, who delighted us in Luck By Chance, showing remarkable insight into the inner workings of the Bollywood machine — and a host of cameos by top stars. It also opened our eyes more to the talents of Hrithik Roshan and of course Konkona Sen Sharma was as superb as always. Next year, we have the intriguing Karthik Calling Karthik to look forward to.
At six, just outside the top five, we have Saif Ali Khan, still able to jump from the light romantic comedy of Love Aaj Kal to the more serious Kurbaan in the blink of an eye. Saif will be taking a backseat on a number of productions in 2010 as he builds his own production house, but we hope to see him on the silver screen in a role worthy of his ability soon – possibly in the postponed Agent Vinod movie. Meanwhile, Saif and Kareena are holidaying in Europe for a month, no doubt to mull over what went wrong in Kurbaan and to start planning the details of their much-anticipated wedding.
Number five, and a future possible BollySpice Actor of the Year, is none other than Abhay Deol. He comes from a strong pedigree of course, being the cousin of Sunny, Bobby and Esha – but he’s more than a production-line Bollywood star, preferring instead to choose his roles and his directors carefully. His off-the-wall performance in Dev.D left many of us stunned, but to show it wasn’t a one-off, he followed up with the festival favourite Road, Movie, soon to be shown at the Berlin Festival. Next year, he already has a strong profile lined up with the Emma-remake Aisha and the action movie Basra.
The number four position has to go to Aamir Khan for the astonishingly energetic 3 Idiots. The 44-year-old succeeds in lobbing twenty years off his age and really makes you believe he’s just a student once again. Aamir who worked hard on promoting the movie, including engaging in a Where’s Rancho type walkabout of India, will be taking a rest now whilst he works on some of the movies from his own production house, but hopefully he will be back tempting us with new delights in the near future.
In third place, we have Amitabh Bachchan. The old master stunned everyone with his brave and touching performance as Auro in Paa. This could so easily have been ridiculous or offensive or both – but somehow he managed to pull it off and make everyone believe he was this twelve-year old boy, giving away a good 55 years on his role. His role in Aladin was a bit of a let-down but things are looking good for next year with a co-star in Ben Kingsley for Teen Patti and the movie Shoebite with the always interesting Dia Mirza.
So at number 2, who else could it be but Shahid Kapoor with Kaminey and Dil Bole Hadippa, the first of course being the ultimate romance with Priyanka Chopra and the second being the imaginative creation that saw Rani Mukherjee burst back into her career after an absence of a couple of years. This year is also looking promising for Shahid with Chance Pe Dance just newly released with Genlia D’Souza and Milenge Milenge taking him back to familiar territory with Kareena Kapoor…
But this year’s number one, BollySpice Actor of the Year, has to be none other than Ranbir Kapoor! With three big movies under his belt showing his ability to work in a wide range of roles – Wake Up Sid, Rocket Singh-Salesman of the Year and Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahini – the Mumbai actor, who is still only two years old in the industry, has shown himself to be the leader of the New Generation of Bollywood stars and seems destined to be the superstar of tomorrow. Next year, we can look forward to seeing him demonstrate the depth of his talent further in what could be a definitive movie for both him and Katrina Kaif — Rajneeti – and Anjaana Anjaani with the queen of romance, herself, Priyanka Chopra.
There can only be ten places in a top ten list of course — but with the bulging list of talents in Bollywood, it wouldn’t be fair if we left the Best Actors table without at least offering honorable mentions to R Madhavan for 3 Idiots and 13B, Rishi Kapoor for Delhi 6, Love Aaj Kal and Kal Kissne Dekha and naturally the ever-reliable Irrfan Khan for Billu and Acid Factory and the promise of Paan Singh Tomar.