Here's a look at the some of the promising new faces of 2008 that sizzled the big screen with their stunning performances. e+ picks out the top five debutants in Hindi cinema.
The male brigade
Before we pick the top five faces of 2008, here's a look at those who didn't quite make an impressive reel appearance.
Nikhil Diwivedi kicked-off 2008 with his much-hyped disastrous debut in My Name Is Anthony Gonsalves, while Anubhav Sinha made a sedate debut in Shubhash Ghai's Black & White. Nukuul Mehta and Adhyayan Suman failed to make an impact in Haal-E-Dil, but Suman is hopeful to taste success the second time round with Raaz 2. Mithun Charkraborty's son Mimoh made the worst debut of the decade in Jimmy, while Sudeep, Kannada export into Bollywood, failed to create a stir with Phoonk. Ram Gopal Varma's protégé Advik Mahajan's forgettable performance in the lackluster film Contract will leave him very little in Bollywood. Rajneesh Duggal tasted success with 1920 but failed to create any real impact. Smita Patel and Raj Babbar's son Prateik Babbar made an impressive debut in Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na, but he needs to anchor a complete film to prove his potential.
The year 2008 saw an unprecedented number of actors making their Bollywood debut. So more like one new face launched every two weeks! This sudden demand could be attributed the film industry's tremendous growth over the last few years and the vacuum created by many top actors, who opted to work only in certain camps, turned selective or charged unimaginable amounts that were almost impossible for filmmakers to churn out. This left a large slot for aspiring actors.
But gone are the days when a glorious lineage or a pretty face was enough to work magic on the box office. Nowadays, it's also about talent, the right film and a fair amount of luck that will take you to the top slots. We take a look at who was lucky in Bollywood.
Top 5 male performers
1. Imran Khan
Imran's endearing performance, boy-next-door look and solid backing from mammo (uncle) Aamir Khan puts him on the numero uno slot. His debut film Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na is dubbed the cutest love story of 2008. Imran's instant success is placed next only to Hrithik Roshan's debut in Kaho Na Pyar Hai. Even though his second film Kidnap failed at the box office, there's no doubt this boy is here to stay. Talking about his future plans, Imran says, "I want to experiment with varied roles and do not want to stick to any specific genre." Looks like he is following in his uncle's footsteps.
Future project: Luck and Delhi Belly
2. Rajeev Khandelwal
His was the most unconventional debut of them all. Yet his stupendous performance struck him gold. He made a quiet transition from television to the big screen with the impressive lead role in Aamir, a film that took an interesting look at terrorism without any Bollywood cliches. Despite no film marketing, Aamir fared well only through word-of-mouth marketing!
Future projects: Peter Gaya Kaam Se
3. Farhan Akhtar
He made a smooth transition from director to acting with the path-breaking Rock On!!! After directing super hit films like Dil Chahta Hai and Lakshaya, Akhtar's acting performance proved that he was as promising in front of the camera as he was behind it. His sensible controlled portrayal has definitely doubled his fan base.
Future project: Luck By Chance and Kartik Calling Kartik
4. Harman Baweja
His much-hyped debut in the sci-fi flick Love Story 2050 failed to save the film. He was even accused of aping Hrithik Roshan. But to his credit, the young lad has ample screen presence and can dance like a dream. It's his acting that needs some polishing. The fact that successful directors like Ashutosh Gowariker, Anees Bazmee and Sanjay Bhansali are signing him despite his miserable performance reveals Baweja's true potential.
Future project: Victory, It's My Life and What's Your Raashee
5. Sikander Kher
This unconventional-looking boy is son to Kirron and Anupam Kher (stepfather), who are accomplished actors themselves. However, his debut Woodstock Villa and his second film Summer 2007 failed to create a stir at the box office. Despite a miserable start, his performance has won him huge recognition. Kher had refused Saif Ali Khan's role in Dil Chahta Hai. Many believe that his career would have taken a different turn had he been more discerning about his choice of films.
Future project: Untitled venture with Abhishek Bachchan
Top 5 female debutants of 2008
1. Anushka Sharma
To match your steps with the King of Bollywood is no easy task. This is exactly why Sharma takes the top slot for holding fort alongside Shah Rukh Khan in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi. This SRK-starrer is no doubt a blockbuster, but it's Sharma's performance that has left the critics amazed. The model-turned-actress has stunned audiences and critics with her spectacular performance.
Future projects: Two more unnamed projects with Yashraj Films
Having established herself in South India, Asin makes her progression to Bollywood with the much-talked-about Aamir Khan-starrer Ghajini. It may seem that her debut was far simpler than the others, considering she essays the same character in the Tamil version of Ghajini. But it's no easy task to hold ground with the versatile Khan. This actress has done that and much more. In fact, she has won over a huge fan base even before the film hit the screens. She is touted as the next big thing in Bollywood, with every big banner desperate to sign her on.
Future project: London Dreams and untitled sci-fi project with Ranbir Kapoor
3. Prachi Desai
Elegant and dignified is what best describes Desai's debut in Rock On!!! Desai successfully made a transition from Ekta Kapoor's TV soaps with a striking debut on the big screen along with Akhtar.
Future project: Life Partner
4. Mugdha Godse
Another model-turned-actress made an impressive start to her acting career with Madhur Bhandarkar's Fashion. Godse was noticed not only for her hour-glass frame but for her controlled performance.
Future project: New projects to be announced soon
5. Adah Sharma
She was an unknown beautiful face until Vikram Bhatt launched her in the horror flick 1920. She was noticed not only for her striking beauty, but for her spooky performance, scaring the living daylights out of many.
Future project: Phir, another horror flick
It's not easy for a non-Indian to create a place in Bollywood, which is possibly why Thai actress Lina Christianson failed to leave an impact with her performance in Bombay to Bangkok.
Sonal Chauhan made a successful Bollywood start with Jannat, but there's a long way before she reaches the top. For Amitha Pathak and Shwetha Kumar, their film producer-dads helped them with their debut in Haal-E-Dil and Karzzz, but their lineage didn't help them at the box office.
Sakshi Gulati is Ram Gopal Verma's latest muse, but her performance in Contract proves she is no Urmila Matondkar or Antara Mali. Another debutant who failed to make an impact was Kaveri Jha with her lacklustre performance in Hijack.
And I wouldn't be surprised if no one remembers Pooja Singh. For the uninitiated, she gave a lacklustre performance alongside Mimoh in Jimmy.
What the New Year holds
2009 may not have as many star kids as the previous year, but there some hi-profile performers trying to create a slot in Bollywood. And topping the list are Kamal Hassan's daughter Shruthi Hassan in Luck, successful TV actress Aamna Shariff in Peter Gaya Kaam Se and Himesh Reshammiya's bunch of new girls – Mona Liza, Niharika Singh and Jeniffer Kotwal – making their debut in Kajraare, A Love Iiisshtory and Mudh Mudh Ke Na Dekh, respectively. Let's unroll another year of giltz and glamour to find out who will emerge the winner.