Aamir Khan, Dangal
For months, Aamir Khan stayed in the news for his painstaking process of weight gain and, then, loss for the role of Mahavir Singh Phogat in Dangal. The preparation for the role required him to learn wrestling too. All his hard work paid off. The superstar is quite believable as the father who pushes his daughters to learn wrestling. Especially, moving is the scene in which his wrestling method is challenged by his eldest daughter. When he loses a wrestling bout to Geeta, he silently suffers the pain and humiliation. His salt and pepper look combined with his gait makes him realistic enough as an aging wrestler from rural Haryana who desperately wants his daughters to become international champions.
Manoj Bajpayee, Aligarh
The actor inhabits the role of the 64-year-old Professor Siras Shrinivas, drawing the audience’s compassion for this lonely, gay character who is subjected to harassment and social stigma. The film is based on the real-life controversial incident in which Aligarh University suspended the professor for his sexual predilections. Bajpayee called this his “most challenging” role so far and raised the bar with his brilliant performance.
Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Raman Raghav 2.0
It is difficult to imagine anyone else other than Siddiqui in the role of a deranged serial killer. To create a fearsome character, he reunited with director-writer Anurag Kashyap. His performance remains convincing in spite of other flaws the film suffers from. He, once again, makes dark delicious. Interestingly, he also dabbled with comedy this year with Freaky Ali.
Shah Rukh Khan, Fan
The premise of Fan was interesting — the superstar plays himself and takes up the formidable role of an obsessed fan, who is in his 20s. The film was meant to showcase his skills as an actor and act as an reminder of his star pull. As the young fan, Khan is impressive, coaxing us to believe in his restless energy. It is also a joy to watch a superstar with his fears. The expectations raised by the layered story-telling in the first half, fall flat post interval, and with it was lost an opportunity for Khan to create a Darr-like character.
Sushant Singh Rajput, MS Dhoni: The Untold Story
Playing a cricket legend who is still ruling the roost is no mean task. But there isn’t a moment where we don’t buy Sushant Singh Rajput in and as MS Dhoni in Neeraj Pandey’s film. Physical transformation coupled with a believable portrayal of Dhoni’s unorthodox technique, special effects and sincerity, makes Rajput’s performance studied and uncanny.
Disclaimer: The author has not watched all the releases of this year. She lists the top performers of 2016 in alphabetical order.