By Subhash K. Jha
Mumbai, Jan 1 (IANS) The year 2008 saw a variety of debutants in Bollywood, from fresh faces to new filmmakers. If Asin Thottumkal was a storehouse of expressions in "Ghajini", Anushka Sharma in "Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi" was natural and spontaneous.
The third important female discovery was Mugdha Godse. Bold and uninhibited, she stood her ground in "Fashion" in spite of an author-backed part for Priyanka Chopra.
Prachi Desai, a fourth fabulous female debutante came earlier during the year. With her sweet and tender big-screen debut in "Rock On", she proved that television stars do shine in cinema.
The myth that television actors falter and fall while making that transition was broken twice over in 2008. Not just Prachi but also Rajeev Khandelwal, who made a powerful debut in "Aamir", along with first time director Rajkumar Gupta. The debutant filmmaker emblazoned his name with a tale of terrorism that travelled the tormented streets of Mumbai in scampering motions.
In the field of direction, if "Aamir" gave us a camera-worthy director in Gupta, two more 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 deep directorial impact. Abhishek Kapoor, who had once acted in a film called "Uff! Yeh Mohabbat" with his then girlfriend Twinkle Khanna 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".
Other debutant directors, who came during the earlier part of the year, like Vijay Krishna Acharya ("Tashan"), Jaideep Sen ("Krazzy 4") and Vivek Sharma ("Bhootnath") couldn't live up to the hype created around their entry.
Among the male debutants, Imran Khan was hands-down the best discovery of the year. Sassy, spontaneous 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 more filmy.
Director Farhan Akhtar made his debut as a leading man and 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.
Earlier, some not-so-significant new faces made their debut. Nikhil Dwivedi debuted in "My Name Is Anthony Gonzalves" at the beginning of the year, but audiences didn't warm up to him. Rajneesh Duggal and Adah Sharma made a joint effort at stardom in Vikram Bhatt's "1920", but the film sank without a trace and the two actors were forgotten too.
Neha Oberoi 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 too made a disastrous debut with "Jimmy".
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.