1. Rishi Kapoor as Rauf Lala
He played the menacing Rauf Lala in Karan Johar produced Agneepath. For someone known as a chocolate hero throughout his younger years, Agneepath was a definite 'no'. But after being convinced by Johar and a makeup test, Kapoor got the confidence to play a role that challenged his 40-year-career. The gamble paid off. But Agneepath had two villains: The bigger was the cult Kancha Cheena, played to the hilt by Sanjay Dutt; on the other hand was Lala, more layered, with shades of grey. The original Agneepath did not have a Rauf Lala. The remake stands out only because of this particular character in an otherwise average movie.
2. Saswata Chatterjee as Bob Biswas
“Nomoshkar, aek minute.” If you know the sound of these words, it means you have seen the runaway whodunit hit Kahaani, and you will start counting your breath. These are the words of Bob Biswas, played by Saswata Chatterjee, who has a day job as an insurance agent, and is a hitman on the side. Bob was a man of few words. He looked like an everyday insurance agent who comes to your doorstep to collect the monthly premium. He also looked like the guy who really needs to be pushed to do his job. That he could be a killer was completely unacceptable. An exceptional act.
3. Tigmanshu Dhulia as Ramadhir Singh
He was never known for his acting. In fact, until 2012 he was barely known. He directed Haasil, a movie that was largely unnoticed. He directed Saheb, Biwi aur Gangster and the audience became aware of him. He made Paan Singh Tomar, and the audience loved Irfaan Khan. It was only in Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs of Wasseypur that Tigmanshu Dhulia appeared before the camera (as Ramadhir Singh, a criminal politician) and left an impression. Dhulia had assisted Shekhar Kapoor in Bandit Queen. Later, he directed TV serials and made a name for himself as a writer. The scene changed when Kashyap asked him to play Ramadhir. “I didn’t do any research... I just imagined I am Marlon Brando,” he said in an interview to a newspaper.
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(This story appears in the 11 January, 2013 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)