There are clear expectations that one has from top actors like Shah Rukh Khan, Akshay Kumar, Aamir Khan, Salman Khan and Hrithik Roshan year after year. Though with an exception of Salman Khan (who by the way had a horrible 2008 professionally) all the other aforementioned actors did justify their standing in the Top-5, there were also men like Ranvir Shorey, Emraan Hashmi and Abhishek Bachchan who sprung a surprise. While Naseeruddin Shah maintained his standing as an actor par excellence, newcomers like Imran Khan and Farhan Akhtar did wonderfully well too. Joginder Tuteja goes down the memory trip and brings back the performances that enchanted us most.
10 Ranvir Shorey (Mithya)
This was a sad-n-happy performance by a man who can be molded as per the requirement of any script. With no hang-ups about being suitable only for the lead roles, when given a chance to play one, that too in a double role, Ranvir Shorey came up with a cracker of a performance. As a commoner who is forced to live the life of a gangster courtesy the circumstances beyond his control, he was mostly flawless in this offbeat film that also earned moolah at the box office. The young man would certainly be seen in many more meaningful performances in years to come.
9 Emraan Hashmi (Jannat)
What ‘Awarapan’ couldn’t do, ‘Jannat’ did it for Emraan Hashmi. Though in former he came up with his best performance ever, it was the latter that brought in moolah at the box office. A low budget film that went on to make crores for it’s makers, ‘Jannat’ brought in ‘jannat’ for Vishesh Films that had seen back to back failures in ‘Awarapan’ and ‘Dhokha’. Emraan Hashmi was just the right face to depict the journey of a small time cards player to one of the leading match fixers and his naughty grin along with mischievous glint in the eyes worked wonders once again. He was back in the reckoning with ‘Jannat’.
8 Abhishek Bachchan (Dostana)
He rocked and how! One wonders how Abhishek Bachchan was keeping the balance intact when shooting for diverse films like ‘Dostana’, ‘Sarkar Raj’ and ‘Drona’ simultaneously. For the first time ever, one saw Abhishek Bachchan on screen as a man that he is in real life and one could sense that he was truly enjoying all the fun both on and off the screen. Leave aside the entire gay angle; Abhishek Bachchan truly demonstrated an altogether different facet of his personality with ‘Dostana’. Not many actors could have dared running in a feminine manner the way he did in the Venice sequence; something that was just good enough for the price of a ticket!
7 Imran Khan (Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Naa)
There was no news about this young man for almost two years when the film was on floors. And then when the film was two months away from it’s theatrical release, there was only one man who was being talked about – Imran Khan. So much so that the other debutant whose movie released on the same day as ‘Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Naa’, Harman Baweja, was more or less eclipsed. Imran Khan turned out to be quite a charmer in his just-graduated-from-college boy role and within hours of the film’s release, he was elevated as the nation’s newest heartthrob. Though ‘Kidnap’ did push him back a little, one would still want to remember him as the chocolate boy whose eyes never fail to communicate just the right emotion.
6 Farhan Akhtar (Rock On)
This was THE most surprising performance of the year gone by. Till a day before the release of the film, there were no talks about ‘Rock On’ or it’s actors even though Farhan Akhtar was making his acting and singing debut. However, the industry was forced to stand up and take notice of this immensely talented youngster who had shown his mettle as a producer and director in quite a few films before. ‘Being natural’ was the key phrase as Farhan used all his weaknesses to his advantage and came up with one of the most remembered performances of the year.
5 Akshay Kumar (Singh Is Kinng)
Akshay Kumar and Anees Bazmee are giving Bollywood a flavor that Amitabh Bachchan and Manmohan Desai used to give more than a couple of decades back. In his characteristic manner, Akshay Kumar proved once again that if the ‘masala’ ingredients are mixed well, he is good enough to carry any story or narrative entirely on his screen presence. As a common man who is attached to his roots and doesn’t have any hang-ups about the kind of dialogues he is required to deliver and the most absurd of situations that he is required to be a part of, Akshay Kumar got all his confidence together to make ‘Singh Is Kinng’ one of the biggest grossers of 2008.
4 Hrithik Roshan (Jodhaa Akbar)
Hrithik Roshan slogged for close to two years before ‘Jodhaa Akbar’ became a reality. Though he may be wondering if he would want to replicate such an effort for another film of his, one can’t deny the fact that he gave his all for this role. Whether it was the physical appearance or the dialogue delivery or the screen presence or the sheer demeanor, Hrithik didn’t cut any loose corners for his role as Akbar. It was indeed his performance in the film that elevated this epic saga to a level that may just have fallen flat had a lesser actor enacted the role. There are hardly a few actors who could have carried off a film entirely on their shoulders but Hrithik Roshan made it possible, hence keeping his successful run intact.
3 Aamir Khan (Ghajini)
In his most challenging and complex role till date that required him to become not just physically but even mentally strong, Aamir Khan was simply stupendous in ‘Ghajini’. A role that would have certainly emotionally drained him as well (it isn’t easy to be living the life of a character who looses his memory every 15 minutes only to remember every passing moment that his mission in life is to take revenge), the part of Sanjay Singhania also needed Aamir to build the kind of a body that he had never done before in his life. Of course, some people were not really thrilled with his act in ‘Ghajini’ but then the box office figures tell a different tale altogether. Add to that the kind of histrionics that he displayed and the debate began once more about who is the real King of Bollywood – Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan or Akshay Kumar.
2 Shah Rukh Khan (Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi)
Shah Rukh Khan proved once again (one wonders till when he would be required to prove himself though) that being called SHAH RUKH KHAN is due to some reason. In a role that no one else but only he could have played to such perfection, Shah Rukh Khan was terrific as Suri and his alter ego Raj. Never once did he slip out of his character, something which is commendable and also risky, because even audience expects him to get into a typical Raj or Rahul act time and again. Still, Shah Rukh Khan reinvented himself with this film where a lot was riding due to his coming together again with Aditya Chopra. The film has proven to be one his biggest success stories ever, hence ensuring that his HIT record remains intact for years at stretch.
1 Naseer (A Wednesday)
This was THE performance of the year, especially so in the age and times that we live. As a ‘stupid common man’, Naseeruddin Shah was simply brilliant and outstanding as he came up with a performance that would resonate for years in the minds of cinegoers. While many actors of his age and caliber have been settling down for something far inferior, Naseeruddin Shah continues to find roles of substance that makes one stand up and question once again that why don’t film makers think of utilizing him in a bigger and better way more often? Dominating the proceedings in practically every scene of the film, Naseeruddin Shah came up with the most revered act of 2008. If he doesn’t win a National Award for this film, no one else would be deserving enough. Period.