Express News Service

This year, we saw big stars make a bigger splash—with Rajini ascertaining his superstardom with Jailer, Sunny Deol decimating the box office with Gadar 2, Dharmendra bringing a nostalgic warmth to Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani, and Mammootty redefining stardom with films like Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam.

However, 2023 was also the year when we saw promising actors finally getting to unleash their full potential, established stars crossing state lines to sweep a new army of fans, and debutants charming the hearts of millions. As the year winds down, let us take a look at all the breakout talents from across India, who made a lasting impression with their stellar performances this year.


Preethi Asrani (Ayothi)

In Mandhira Moorthy’s Ayothi, Preethi played the role of the deceased woman’s daughter, Shivani, who is the older sister to a brother. She was also grieving her mother’s unexpected demise but had to take up the responsibility of being her brother’s second mother. While Preethi aced her part as a timid and naive Shivani throughout the film, she also had one strong scene to show her full potential. In a scene where her father insists on following rituals even during a tough time, she strongly calls him out for mistreating her mother when she was alive and requests him to at least let her rest in peace. That scene in particular, and her portrayal of an innocent grieving motherless teenage girl, got her name out, as she deserves.


Bobby Deol (Animal)

What’s in a screen time? Although brief, Bobby Deol delivered a bone-chilling performance as the antagonist in Sandeep Reddy Vanga’s Animal. His entry song (‘Jamal Kudu’) became a fodder for social media memes and reels. Without a single word of dialogue, Lord Bobby’s act made a lot of noise. It was an exceptionally benevolent year for the Deols. The in-house intellectual Abhay Deol was sombre and ruminative in Trial By Fire, while Dharmendra was warm and cuddly as the lovelorn grandfather in Karan Johar’s Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani. And let’s just say Sunny Deol’s Tara Singh wreaked some havoc at the box office with Gadar 2. Sweet or sour, the year was surely Deolicious.

Wamiqa Gabbi (Jubilee)

This year, OTT was Wamiqa Gabbi’s world and we were just living in it. After being a part of Vishal Bhardwaj’s Mumbai Dragon for Modern Love: Mumbai in 2022, the actor made some ripples in the southern seas with her performance in auteur Thiagarajan Kumararaja’s segment Ninaivo Oru Paravai, for Modern Love: Chennai. Next up was the goofily graceful act in Vikramaditya Motwane’s period drama Jubilee, where Wamiqa essayed the role of a courtesan who is trying her luck at the movies. No Wamiqa year can be without one Vishal Bhardwaj tale, 2023 had two. She broke the fourth wall with her mischievous charm as the Punjabi expletive-spewing detective in the series Charlie Chopra & The Mystery of the Solang Valley and exacted revenge against a deceiving husband (Ali Fazal) in Bhardwaj’s lyrical spy-thriller Khufiya.


Anaswara Rajan  (Neru)

Getting noticed for a performance in a film headlined by a superstar is no mean feat. But Anaswara Rajan has pulled off just that with the portrayal of a blind rape survivor in Neru, which saw director Jeethu Joseph reuniting with Mohanlal for what has now turned out to be a successful effort. The film gives Anaswara’s Sara a quiet dignity, making it a role marked by resilience and vulnerability in a 
commendably sensitive portrayal rarely seen in Malayalam cinema. It’s a performance to remember.


Sumanth Prabhas (Mem Famous)

In 2023, Sumanth made his feature film debut, as an actor and a director with the coming-of-age rural comedy Mem Famous. Co-starring a host of newcomers, Sumanth combined autobiographical elements in his film by telling a story of three no-good young boys in rural Telangana who turn over a new leaf and earn the respect of their fellow villagers by running a successful YouTube channel.

(Abhilasha Cherukuri, A Sharadhaa, Jayabhuvaneshwari B, Sajin Srijith, Kartik Bhardwaj)

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