8 Young Actors To Watch Out For
If you aren’t a fan yet, it’s time to get acquainted with some of India’s most promising names in cinema
It would be fair to say that the pandemic has taken the millennial obsession of binge-watching video content to a whole new level. The Internet was already changing who, what and how we choose to watch on our screens but the lockdown fast-tracked those dynamics for the homebound viewer. For streaming platforms, the pressure of demand for good content has never been greater. The variety of new shows on OTTs today has also got us exploring newer narratives and braver stories, not to mention the diverse talent at the helm. Here’s a list of eight path-breaking young actors who are wooing us with their avant-garde on-screen skills
Best known for playing Kabir in the popular web series Made in Heaven (2018), Shashank Arora’s first breakthrough came with the neo-noir drama Titli (2014) which went on to be screened at Cannes. His lead role in the film would set the tone for his future portrayals in films and OTTs — offbeat, grey characters that seamlessly glide between art-house and mainstream cinema. Apart from being an actor, Arora is also a musician and screenwriter.
Abhishek Banerjee started off as a casting director, bagging small roles in films and web series. He was flying largely under the radar until he was noticed for his roles in the horror-comedy Stree (2018) and Dream Girl (2019). It was Mirzapur (2018) that turned his trajectory toward negative characters and Paatal Lok (2020) only further carved that path for him, with his spine-chilling portrayal of Hathoda Tyagi, the monstrous hammer-wielding serial killer. The quiet dread that Bannerjee often brings to the screen with his villainous characters is the result of his superlative skills and painstaking mastery of the craft. Here’s to spreading more terror!
There’s everything to love about Ishwak Singh in Paatal Lok: he plays the diligent young cop Imran Ansari, who is not afraid to speak truth to power and who carries on his shoulders the hopes and aspirations of his lower-middle-class upbringing. Before this big break of sorts in Paatal Lok, Singh did bit-sized roles in Bollywood films for years — his only other significant role was in Hansal Mehta’s 2015 film Aligarh, which ran into controversy owing to its engagement with the subject of homosexuality and criminality. His recent success is proof enough that his hustle as an actor has paid off.
Tanmay Dhanania is a multi-faceted creative with a unique background. After studying Nuclear Engineering in the US, he went on to train as an actor at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in Britain.
Dhanania’s roles in director Q’s 2016 sex comedy Brahman Naman and erotic drama Garbage were well-received and they spotlighted his chops as an actor; both films premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and the 68th Berlinale. Fans also fondly remember his cameo in Made in Heaven (2018). His next release is National Award-winning filmmaker Suman Mukhopadhyay’s Nazarband, which will screen at Busan this month.
Anna Ben debuted in director Madhu C. Narayanan’s Malayalam drama Kumbalangi Nights (2019) and won heart with delightful portrayal of Babymol. The actor might be only three films old but all of them have been roaring hits with memorable characters — don’t miss watching her in Helen (2019) and Kapella (2020). Earlier this year, Ben also featured in a music video for a single titled “Kahaani” by Kochi-based band When Chai Met Toast.
Zoya Hussain’s artistry spans a wide range — she has been an experimental theatre actor since her teens, has acted in many short films and is also a writer and director. Hussain made her debut with Anurag Kashyap’s gripping sports drama Mukkabaaz (2017) as Sunaina Sharma, a mute girl in the film. In 2018, Hussian starred opposite Jim Sarbh in singer-songwriter Prateek Kuhad’s music video for his euphonic EP cold/mess. Both actors play passionate but toxic lovers, exposing the intricacies of modern love. (In 2019, the EP famously went on to be featured in Barack Obama’s playlist of his favorite new music).
TJ Bhanu is a model-turned-actor who got a break this year with Amazon Prime Video’s war drama series The Forgotten Army, where she played the role of abused ex-plantation worker, Rasamma. While the series itself didn’t give us the thrill, Bhanu’s character kept us invested in the story. We can’t wait to see more of her on screen.
From working behind the camera to acting in front of it, Toranj Kayvon’s journey has been most fascinating. A noted photographer in the industry (she shot the Rolling Stone India 2016 cover featuring Monica Dogra), Kavyon revealed a new facet to her creative personality when she appeared in the Akshay Kumar-starrer Kesari last year. Her role of the Afghan woman Gulwarien might have been tiny in the film, but her presence and caliber were hard to miss.