By Subhash K. Jha, Bollywood Hungama News Network
2008 was a year of great variety among debutants. Two of the brightest female faces of 2008, Asin and Anushka Sharma came within two weeks of each other. If Asin in Ghajini was an expressions ki dukaan, Anushka Sharma in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi was far more controlled and reined -in. This model from Bangalore was in no hurry to let us know all the tricks of her trade in one go. Aram se was Anushka. Asin was a storehouse of expressions, a Sridevi on steroids.
And a month earlier we had Mugdha Godse, yet another new feminine flavour for 2008 who made a blasting impact. Bold and uninhibited, she stood her ground in Fashion in spite of an author-backed part for Priyanka Chopra.
A fourth fabulous female debutante came earlier during the year. Prachi Desai with her sweet and tender big-screen debut in Rock On proved television stars do shine in cinema. The myth that television actors falter and fall while making that transition (look at poor Amarr Upadhyay, he is back on television after trying everything on the big screen from horror to Bhojpuri) was broken twice over in 2008. Not just Prachi. But also Rajeev Khandelwal who made a powerful debut in Aamir along with director Rajkumar Gupta who emblazoned his name with a tale of terrorism that traveled the tormented streets of Mumbai in scampering motions.
If Aamir gave us a camera-worthy director in Rajkumar Gupta, two other directors dabbling in terrorism - Nishikant Kamat in Mumbai Meri Jaan and Neeraj Pandey in A Wednesday - came out with flying colours.
Indeed 2008 was the year of demoniacal directorial impact. Abhishek Kapoor who had once acted in a film titled Uff Yeh Mohabbat with his then-girlfriend Twinkle Kapadia in the lead was resurrected as the man behind Rock On. For all practical purposes this was Abhishek's beginning as a director and what a debut!
Ditto Munnabhai writer turned director Abbas Tyrewala, who shone in meteoric motions in the inspiring company of his debut making hero Imran Khan in Jaane Tu...Ya Jaane Na.
The debutant directors who came during the earlier part of the year like Vijay Krishna Acharya (Tashan), Jaideep Sen (Krazzy 4) and Vivek Sharma (Bhoothnath) couldn't live up to the hype created around their debut.
But actor Imran Khan did. He was hands-down the male discovery of the year. Sassy, spontaneous, practical and sensible, Imran's freshness of approach to acting was contagious. The nation contracted the Imran virus. Harman Baweja who made his debut on the same day as Imran was far filmier. Like Asin, he knows it all. And doesn't hide it.
Farhan Akhtar the first super-director to make his super-debut as a leading man was a revelation in Rock On. Subtle and skilful in portraying a man who has clamped shut his dreams, Farhan made us thankful for the concept of multi-tasking which allowed him casual leeway to switch from one side of the camera to the other. Rock On also gave us a significant female talent in Shahana Goswami who sort of negated the advantage she gained in her debut with a turnip called Ru BaRu.
Earlier during the year there were some not-so-significant male debutants, like Nikhil Dwivedi at the beginning of the year in My Name Is Anthony Gonsalves. If Imran had Aamir's backing, Nikhil had the label of being Shah Rukh's protege.
Rajneesh Duggal and Adah Sharma made a joint effort at stardom in Vikram Bhatt's 1920 which did more for the sales of Hanuman Chalisa than for the newcomers.
Neha Uberoi and Sikandar Kher in Woodstock Villa and Nakuul Mehta-Amita Mangat-Adhyayan Suman in Haal-E-Dil came and went faster than we could remember their names. Mithun's son Mimoh Chakraborty made a disastrous debut too.
But Sonal Chauhan in Jannat and Aditi Sharma in Black & White managed to scrape through the finish line in a well-written role that was badly played.
All the really promising new talent of the year came in the second-half of the year. Maybe it was meant to be. Maybe it was planned. Because all the popular awards generally go to films and actors in the second -half.