Poll-5: The Finest Performance Of A Bollywood Actor In The Last Decade (2001-2010)

Finally (after 33 days), we have come to the end of the exciting journey to find out the best actor of the last decade! Yes, we are completely overwhelmed by the kind of response we have got for this poll. From the 25 choices in the poll, you guys have voted 10 gems in the ‘Popular Top 10’ category and our esteemed critics have come up with their list as well. Let’s take a look at the critic’s top 10 first and then we’ll move on to verdict of aam junta.

CRITIC’S TOP 10

10) Shahrukh Khan – Swades (2004)

It has been featured on the Popular list as well. Please refer the popular top 10 below.

09) Anupam Kher – A Wednesday (2008 )

Anupam Kher

Anupam Kher

Anupam Kher is one of the most talented actors we have in Bollywood. He adapted to under playing much before Bollywood started waking up to it. Both Naseeruddin Shah and Anupam Kher were superlative in A Wednesday. However, Naseeruddin Shah had lengthy dialogues and emotional breakdown scene to channelize his emotions in the movie. Whereas Anupam Kher was left with his limited resources (eyes & body language) to portray the turbulence which Commissioner Prakash Rathod undergoes. The city of Mumbai is on the verge of the worst terrorist attack ever and the commissioner is on fire; he is answerable to many, both the public and the political system. We feel the vigilance, accuracy, earnestness, spirit, heroism, maturity, seriousness, intelligence & responsibility of Prakash Rathod in even the slightest body language or pause of Anupam Kher. He has to put on a courageous face dealing with the biggest crisis of his life. There is no time for analyzing what went wrong or to blame someone else; these are the moments to act and Anupam Kher does that beautifully without letting us know.

08 ) Hrithik Roshan – Koi Mil Gaya (2003)

It has been featured on the Popular list as well. Please refer the popular top 10 below.

07) Amitabh Bachchan – Black (2005)

Amitabh Bachchan

Amitabh Bachchan

Amitabh Bachchan’s performance in Black was one of the benchmark performances in the history of Bollywood. Both Amitabh and Rani gave their flesh and blood to play two of the most heart-wrenching characters of all time. Being Helen Keller’s almost-mad teacher is not an easy task. Some lives are connected in a strange yet beautiful way; that’s what we get to experience in the bond shared by Debraj Sahai (Amitabh) & Michelle McNally (Rani Mukherjee) in this film. Sanjay Leela Bhansali is always known for extracting great performances from his actors, and he tried to tap the infinite potential of Amitabh Bachchan as an actor. He was remarkably brilliant in the kissing scene with Rani. That was a hell of a scene and someone with less maturity and brilliance would have ruined that scene completely. Amitabh Bachchan is a true legend in every possible way and we should pray for his health so that he can give us many more such mind-blowing performances.

06) Mohan Lal – Company (2002)

It has been featured on the Popular list as well. Please refer the popular top 10 below.

05) Ronit Roy – Udaan (2010)

It has been featured on the Popular list as well. Please refer the popular top 10 below.

04) Rajeev Khandelwal – Aamir (2008 )

Rajeeva Khandelwal

Rajeeva Khandelwal

It’s ironic that two of the most talked about performances of the decade come from two actors who have made a transition from television to big screen. We are talking about Ronit Roy and Rajeev Khandelwal here. Rajeev is in fact very lucky to play a role which is performance oriented & author backed to the core. The role of Aamir is every actor’s dream and Rajeev was destined to play this unassuming doctor who is put to test by bunch of nasty terrorists. We have seen many terrorist plots in the last decade and Aamir is arguably one of the most impactful movies. Aamir is the most memorable and striking character of them all, without any doubt. There are not enough dialogues for Aamir to express his despair and helplessness. Right from his awkward walk to his terror-stricken face he conveys a lot. Aamir’s helplessness is transpired to the audience and we root for him from that moment onwards. There are not enough words to express the lyrical quality of his performance. In short, a killer performance!

03) Pankaj Kapoor – The Blue Umbrella (2007)

Pankaj Kapoor

Pankaj Kapoor

Will the world ever wake up to the unmistakable brilliance of Pankaj Ji (yeah, the humongous respect stops me from calling his full name!)? He is a national award winning actor and he was always considered one of the finest talents of our country. However, in my opinion, Vishal Bharadwaj was the one director who could give him the roles which could do justice to his supreme talent. Effortlessness and the ability to be the character are the biggest aspects of Pankaj Ji as an actor. He underplays the character with a rare brilliance which provides such an endearing watch. Vishal Bharadwaj has expressed his fascination for Ruskin Bond’s stories and ‘The Blue Umbrella’ is yet another short story by the same author. The story has got a fairy tale kind of splendor and the innocence of a children’s movie. Nandakishore – here comes a character who is childish and stubborn (like we all are at times J) even though he is a middle aged man running an old ruined shop in one of the beautiful Himachal Pradesh villages blessed with plenty of scenic hills tops and snowfall. In his not-so-exciting lonely life, he finally finds an object of desire – a beautiful blue umbrella owned by a small girl. He gets jealous of her possession and spends his days and nights thinking about ways to obtain it at any cost. Obviously, the little girl is no mood to give it to anybody. Pankaj Ji will make you smile, he will also make you amaze at his willingness to be a stubborn 10 year old risking everything else he has. Oh such a lovely performance. Poetic could be the right word to describe the beauty of it.

02) Saif Ali Khan – Omkara (2006)

Saif Ali Khan

Saif Ali Khan

Saif Ali Khan is a world class actor and he should be rubbing shoulders with Hollywood biggies; that was the first thought came to my mind when I watched Saif’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s most hated villains ever – Iago (here it is Langda Tyagi with a rustic touch). Most of the typical villains are known for their crudeness, bloodshed and violence and Iago is lot different in that way; he is not into any of these. Instead, he brings out his evil side in such a way that he poisons the minds of the people around him, leading to a tragic end. Omkara (Othello) is the central character and supposed to walk away with the equal glory in the end. However, in Vishal Bharadwaj’s version, Saif Ali Khan walks away with all the applause. Not only that, he also takes the thunder away from many other characters. Such is the power of his character and the performance! Saif’s Langda Tyagi is one such character which will be remembered forever. It will be talked about even after a 100 years. It will stand out as a reference to finest acting. Saif should be happy!

01) Pankaj Kapoor – Maqbool (2004)

Pankaj Kapoor

Pankaj Kapoor

Abbaji evokes terror for many; however, he is lamb when his mistress is around. Such is the contrast of another universally accepted character of ShakespeareDuncan I of Scotland (here it is Abba Ji) – a man with limitless power. In the desi version of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Vishal Bharadwaj once again shows his grasp for the complexity of Shakespearean characters. We have witnessed many actors adopting a certain body language for the perfection of that character. Same happens here too as Pankaj Ji transforms himself into this old man with a different body language and get up. It’s hard to recognize him in that get up; such is the beauty of him becoming the character. He is a man of few words (understandably so, since he is a powerful underworld don in the movie) and he has got men waiting for his node to erupt in violence. There is complete silence in and around him and you can clearly spot that calm smile which is characteristic to Abba Ji. However, there is fire in his eyes, which would shake even the most courageous person and exactly this is what shook the conscience of Neena (his mistress) and his right hand and lover to his mistress Maqbool, when they killed Abba Ji. You can see that the fire in Abba Ji’s eyes is still there, even after being shot by Maqbool, oh it can penetrate our conscious too, and that powerful was the dimension given to Abba Ji. Bollywood should be proud of this powerhouse talent! Acting cannot be taught and it is a god given gift; Pankaj Ji reinstates this fact beautifully.

POPULAR TOP 10

10)Ronit Roy – Udaan (2010) – 4% Votes

Ronit Roy

Ronit Roy

Where was he hiding himself in all these years? That was the first question struck my mind when I watched Udaan for the first time. Some characters are such that you cannot express the complexity of the character in detail to the actor; the actor has to pick up the nuances himself with the help of his instinct. Ronit Roy had to play one such character; the meanest, cruelest, strictest father you would ever come across. Sadly, we have such fathers like Bhairav in our society; ask the producer Anurag Kashyap or director Vikramaditya Motwane. They will give you some shocking stories to begin with. Udaan is a journey of a teenager who comes to terms with the fact that not even a iota of love exists in his father. There are moments when we wonder (much like his teenage son) if he has got a soft side somewhere behind the tough exterior he projects (which is true for many). However, it turns out that he is even more villainous than what his two sons expected. The tough, serious-faced, strict, cruel father demands a cold blooded silence in and around his house. So much so that even the audience begins to feel the discomfort. That was the moment Ronit succeeded as an actor. A brilliant portrayal, no two ways about it!

09)Hrithik Roshan – Koi Mil gaya (2003) – 6% Votes

Hrithik Roshan

Hrithik Roshan

This was one of the rare performances which would have added even more value to the National Award if it had won one. We have seen Hrithik improving leaps and bounds as an actor in the past decade. His Rohit was one of the major milestones in his growth as a good actor; more so because this role wasn’t touted as a performance oriented. Hrithik was unassuming and there was no pressure on him to meet certain expectations. He had to behave as the developmentally disabled Rohit for a good portion of the movie to play out the sharp contrast of him having super powers in the later portions of the movie. He was this childish man with limited intellect! We never felt that he was acting. Somehow he took up the nuances beautifully and became Rohit in an uninhibited manner. There is one scene where he is really upset with all the bullying; you can see that Hrithik has become that helpless, vulnerable, heart wrenchingly-cute child who wants nothing but protection and love. For a few unrehearsed moments of brilliance, we have Hrithik’s Rohit at 8th position of our critic’s list.

08 )Hrithik Roshan – Guzaarish (2010) – 7% Votes

Hrithik Roshan

Hrithik Roshan

Hrithik Roshan plays a paralyzed magician named Ethan Mascarenhas in Guzaarish. Hrithik played the central character in this Sanjay Leela Bhansali movie dealing with euthanasia (mercy killing). It was a performance oriented role and any actor would have given their right arm to play Ethan. Hrithik has worked really hard on the movie considering he has spent many days with people who are quadriplegic (he’s playing one such patient) to perfect the body language. Yes, it is evident in the movie as the body posture is incorporated beautifully to add to his performance. Since he is not able to use his body, there was no body language to Hrithik’s rescue and that makes it a hugely challenging role. All he could use was his face, eyes and voice – which he uses beautifully to convey the trauma his character undergoes. Hrithik pushes himself with every movie and is a perfectionist; it is evident in his portrayal of Ethan. Hrithik has beautifully conveyed the pain, helplessness & irony of that character with the limited means of resources. It would be no wonder if he won the coveted National Award for this one.

07)Pankaj Kapoor – Maqbool (2004) – 10% Votes

It’s already been featured on the critic’s top 10. Check #1.

06)Shahrukh Khan – Chak De India (2007) – 11% Votes

Shahrukh Khan

Shahrukh Khan

Chak De India is one of the most moving and intense performances of Shahrukh Khan ever. Shimit Amin is an amazing director who has given us some amazing characters to cherish forever. Does Shahrukh Khan ever smile in the movie? This question arose in my mind because all we remember is the intense Kabir Khan – the coach of Indian women’s hockey team. He has been insulted in the past raising suspicion on his loyalty to the country – he is naturally hurt and withdrawn. After several years, he’s been assigned a difficult task of managing a fragmented team where regionalism and racism keeps them from being united. Kabir Khan is on the job where he brings that unity which was much desired for the better performance of the team. Shahrukh Khan was consistent throughout as the intense coach. Shahrukh Khan played with a dignified subtlety which made this performance a really wonderful one. A pinch of melancholy was there in the body language and eyes which was preserved till the end to make it one such impactful performance.

05)Shahrukh Khan – Swades (2004) – 18% Votes

Shahrukh Khan

Shahrukh Khan

Shahrukh Khan’s portrayal of Mohan could easily be one of his career best performances. Swades saw Shahrukh Khan taking a complete departure from the kind of movies he had been doing. He rose to superstardom with the intense romantic roles and for quite few years he was more or less doing a ‘Raj’ in various forms. Ashutosh Gowarikar first offered Lagaan to Shahrukh Khan but Aamir Khan was destined to play that role. Considering the international success of Lagaan and the newfound excitement for new age cinema Shahrukh decided to experiment with Swades. Thereafter we saw Swades becoming one of the most celebrated performances of Shahrukh Khan in his long career. However, it failed to make it big in the box office. Nonetheless, Shahrukh Khan was very well utilized in the film where he had to learn the ropes of underplay. Mohan is this confused NRI who is constantly wondering about his identity. He is leading a dream like existence in the US as a NASA scientist. Searching his roots would be the last thing on his mind; still he is forced to do that as if something or the other was leading him to it. Shahrukh Khan was restraint throughout in the movie and the railway station scene where a boy sells drinking water is particularly noteworthy; a very beautiful performance from King Khan.

04)Shaid Kapoor – Kaminey (2009) – 22% Votes

Shahid Kapoor

Shahid Kapoor

If you have noticed one thing, you can see that Vishal Bharadwaj characters are the most favored on this list. Well, it has to be that way since Vishal is such an impeccable director who makes movies with powerful characters. Kaminey remains the most significant film in Shahid’s career given it has not only catapulted him in to superstardom but also established him as an actor to watch out for. He played two characters in this movie – Charlie and Guddu – the quintessential brothers of Bollywood. There was a time when nothing else worked except brother’s rivalry. Vishal Bhradwaj plays the same cards here again with an underworld theme thrown in. The brothers with speech impediment were safe in Shahid’s able hands. Guddu and Charlie are as different as chalk and cheese. One is shy, introvert & soft whereas the other one is just the opposite with a string of evil deeds to his credit. Shahid has successfully conveyed that contrast by bringing a fresh dimension to both characters and made both believable. If one had awkward body language the other one had aggressive body language. Balancing these two characters is a tough job and Shahid effortlessly pulls it off. Charlie & Guddu have in fact become cult characters as the buzz around these two refuses to die.

03)Shahrukh Khan – My Name Is Khan (2010) – 24% Votes

Shahrukh Khan

Shahrukh Khan

Here comes the desi version of Forrest Gump – of course, it’s rather inspired than a frame-to-frame copy. However, Shahrukh Khan has put in a honest effort to play a disabled hero to the perfection. Lots of research has been gone in to studying the mannerisms of patients with Asperger Syndrome and Shahrukh Khan has tried his level best to make it a memorable character; and he is indeed a success. Right from his fixed gaze to the uneasy walk, Shahrukh Khan provides a lasting image of Rizwan Khan – the man who says “My name is Khan, but I am not a terrorist”. There is an underlying humor & irony attached with this character and Shahrukh Khan brings it out in an effortless manner which deserves high praise. Instead of making it a character with endless plights, the focus is shifted to the innocence and goodness of that character. Shahrukh Khan is successful in keeping the body language and get up throughout and steals the heart of the audience in his usual easygoing manner.

02)Shahid Kapoor – Jab We Met(2007) – 25% Votes

Shahid Kapoor

Shahid Kapoor

May be it hasn’t got the attention of many, Aditya Kashyap in Jab We Met is Shahid’s best performance yet and one of the remarkable performances in the last decade for the simple reason that it epitomized subtlety. Simplicity is the key to this performance and he was equally good or even better compared to Kareena’s Geet, which is hailed as one of the landmark performances of an actress in the history of Bollywood. There is a general perception that one acts better when one has lengthy dialogues. However, this is completely untrue; it’s extremely tough to react to your co-star without the help of dialogues. Kareena gets to speak non-stop in Jab We Met and Aditya is left to listen to it and give a response in few words or a reaction through his body language. That is a great challenge for any actor and Shahid pulls it off beautifully. Aditya is heartbroken, gloomy, reserved, and shy throughout the first half and Shahid retains the mood in a beautiful manner. The pain he feels from the breakup is expressed in a subtle yet effective manner. It was such a controlled performance and he beautifully underplayed the emotions. Aditya reminds us of the infinite potential of Shahid and all he needs is a good director to milk the talent he has been bestowed with.

01)Mohan Lal – Company(2002) – 30% Votes

Mohan Lal

Mohan Lal

There are times when we wonder “Oh Keralites are such lucky people in this world; they have got one of the world’s best actors”. If you compile a list of top 10 actors globally Mohan Lal should find a place in the list along with Marlon Brando, Al Pacino and the likes. It’s been said that Mohan Lal has been considered for the National Award for the maximum number of times in India (He rightfully won 4 so far, 3 for his acting and one for his production house). Although his acting is limited to Malayalam movies mainly, he has made some of the biggest names in the Indian film industry his fans.

The prolific director Mani Ratnam once said: “Hereafter I will never work with a man of whom I am a fan. I often forgot to say cut while directing Mohanlal in Iruvar

Amitabh Bachchan is also a fan of Mohan Lal, he once said: “One of the greatest actors in the country. He is extremely natural, a fantastic actor. He does it with so much ease”

Ram Gopal Varma being a self confessed Lal fan, said: “He is simply the best actor I have worked with. Truly, the Robert De Niro of Indian cinema.”

Yes, being a huge fan of Mohan Lal, Ram Gopal Varma was keen that Mohan Lal should play this role of a police officer. Aforementioned police officer had a serious, intense & thoughtful disposition throughout in the movie which was safe in the hands of this acting legend. Lal went on to win a handful of awards in the following year for his portrayal of the south Indian police officer. Thereafter he made his presence felt in RGV’s immensely forgettable Aag. He was supposed to play the character played by Annu Kapoor in ‘7 Khoon Maaf’ (which he turned down in the last moment). There ends Mohan Lal’s short stint with Bollywood, but, like every other industry, Bollywood will also miss the talent of this veteran actor from Kerala.

★★★★★★★★★★★★

With that we come to the end of our 33 days long poll. We thank each and every person voted here and made this a grand success. We promise to come back with next poll as soon as possible. :)