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Non-leading actors who left a lasting impression

During the publicity of a film, it so often happens that the lead actors are ruthlessly promoted. The logic behind this move is simple: people recognise their popular faces and thus most probably drawn to the cinema halls because of them. The same bet can’t be placed on those who play smaller but pivotal roles in a film. 

It’s only when you go and watch a movie that you get to appreciate a non-star’s performance. The irony, in most cases, is you didn’t even know beforehand that these particular actors were acting in the film!

HitList focusses on some who did remarkable work in their comparatively shorter screen time this year…

Baljinder Kau
Film: Shahid
Director: Hansal Mehta
Verdict: Brilliance is the word for her work in the biopic based on human rights activist-lawyer Shahid Azmi. She essays his mother. And it’s almost impossible to believe that in reality, she has nothing to do with the ambience in which the film is set in.

Swara Bhaskar
Swara Bhaskar
Film: Raanjhana
Director: Aanand L Rai
Verdict: She didn’t have a single release last year. In contrast, 2013 seems very busy for her. First noticed for her supporting role in Tanu Weds Manu (2011), her recent venture in the Dhanush-Sonam Kapoor starrer was noteworthy as well. Playing an ‘other girl’ in a gripping love story, her performance was impressive.

Vidyut Jamwal
Vidyut Jamwal
Film: Bullett Raja
Director: Tigmanshu Dhulia
Verdict: After establishing himself as a hardcore action star with his past two films -- performing his own stunts being his undeniable forte -- Vidyut plays an uncompromising cop in this mish-mash of a crime-romance. Though his role in the movie is comparatively minuscule, few minutes to be precise, he makes every inch of the screen worthy with his powerful presence.

Prakash Belawadi
Prakash Belawadi
Film: Madras Cafe
Director: Shoojit Sircar
Verdict: He is shady, not mysterious, from the beginning to the end. After a while, it becomes apparent that he is up to something and is working against his nation’s interest. To Prakash’s credit, he maintains the tension with his bellicose outlook -- for someone who is from the intelligentsia in the film -- until the moment he breaks and lets us a peek into his shameful past.

Sanjay Mishra
Sanjay Mishra
Film: War Chhod Na Yaar
Director: Faraz Haider
Verdict: If comedy is the most obvious way to further anti-war sentiments, this film missed the target by yards. Throughout the discourse, you confront one cliched character after another. This routine is interrupted when you stumble upon Sanjay’s weary, wise and silver-haired Pakistani commander. His act (and antics) remains the only constant in an otherwise haphazard movie.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui
Nawazuddin Siddiqui
Film: The Lunchbox
Director: Ritesh Batra
Verdict: From the teasers of this much-acclaimed effort, one can sense that Irrfan Khan and Nimrat Kaur are the protagonists. And that is very much true. However, it’d be criminal to overlook Nawazuddin’s restrained supporting role. In fact, he doesn’t get out of his character even once -- unlike Irrfan who nonchalantly keeps forgetting his Mallu accent every now and then.

Rishi Kapoor
Rishi Kapoor
Film: Aurangzeb
Director: Atul Sabharwal
Verdict: The realty action-drama had Arjun Kapoor (in double role) and South import Prithviraj (playing a cop). Nonetheless, the cherry in terms of performance went to Rishi. Since his Rauf Lala act in Agneepath, the veteran actor has made a habit of stealing the limelight right unde the nose of his much-younger co-stars. D-Day and Shuddh Desi Romance too fall in the same category.

Divyendu Bhattacharya
Divyendu Bhattacharya
Film: BA Pass
Director: Ajay Bahl
Verdict: Destroying a friend’s trust for selfish reasons sounds like a common happenstance in the world of cinema as in the real world. In this noir too, you come across such a character in the form of Divyendu. He finds himself on the wrong side of luck and moral. But by the time the audience realises it, he’s already gone leaving them wondering “That guy seemed so nice na?”. One of the memorable indie acts.

Vikram Massey
Vikram Massey
Film: Lootera
Director: Vikramaditya Motwane
Verdict: In recent years, quite a lot of small screen actors shifted to Bollywood hoping to make a mark. Not all of them have clicked so far. Vikram certainly did. Although he was cast in a relatively tiny role -- sharing the big screen with Ranveer Singh for the most part -- he’s able to arrest your attention with his impeccable dialogue delivery and youthful expressions.

Divya Dutta
Divya Dutta
Film: Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
Director: Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra
Verdict: One can always expect Divya Dutta to put in her 100 per cent, no matter how small her role is. She does something similar in this biopic where she plays Milkha Singh’s elder sister. Set against Partition, her character is full of hope and sacrifice. She comes alive when Farhan Akhtar’s character returns home -- having fully reformed himself away from the life of a criminal.

Supriya Pathak
Supriya Pathak
Film: Ram-Leela
Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Verdict: One of the most understated actresses around, Supriya plays Deepika Padukone’s mother in this bullet-filled musical drama. But she’s not your everyday mom. Playing a rather unforgiving head of a clan, her stare is more than enough to make her minions tremble with fear. Adding that hers was the best performance in the film won’t be an overstatement.

Saurabh Shukla
Saurabh Shukla
Film: Jolly LLB
Director: Subhash Kapoor
Verdict: When the two competing lawyers in a courtroom drama are powerhouses like Arshad Warsi and Boman Irani, it’d take real mettle from the judge’s end to match up. Fortunately, Saurabh was assigned the task. Justice Tripathi was his name and his mannerism on that decisive chair helped us acknowledge why some senior actors simply know the trick of delivering time and time again. 

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