10 - Katrina Kaif (Race)
It is quite an irony that when pretty face Katrina Kaif, who has delivered quite a few back to back money spinners in last couple of years, finds a place in a Top-10 chart, it is for a villainous performance. She was all leggy, sweet and saccharine for most part of Race but the moment it turned out that she was a part of an evil plan to get rid of Saif's character, the tables turned and a new side of hers was revealed. Though she wasn't anything extraordinary in the film, her transformation from a flawless beauty to a co-conspirator deserves her a place in the Top-10 charts.
9 - Urmila Matondkar (Karzzzz)
She couldn't quite create the Simi Grewal moment in Karzzzz and didn't really make an ever lasting impact. Still she was one of the few saving graces of Karzzzz. As Kamini, she could have done better with some more thought about choice of costumes but still Urmila wasn't a no-show by any means. If only director Satish Kaushik could have given her better scenes, she may just have found a place higher up in the charts. After all hers was one of the very few Bollywood characters in 2008 that was out and out black.
8 - Nikiten Dheer (Jodhaa Akbar, Mission Istanbul)
If only it was the 80s and the 90s, Nikiten Dheer would have bagged at least a dozen odd projects by now in the role of a lead villain. With a huge body to boost, reasonably good acting skills, some terrific screen presence and a promise to make an impact as a big baddie, Nikiten Dheer made a twin impression in Jodhaa Akbar as well as Mission Istanbul. He got an opportunity to play different characters spread across different time zones too, something that allowed him to wear different personas. One expects a better future for him in Bollywood considering hardcore action movies are back in vogue staring 2009.
7 - Gajrao Rao (Aamir)
As a silent conspirator who was just seen mouthing instructions on a cell phone, Gajrao Rao was not even seen in a clear full profile throughout Aamir. Still, he was menacing throughout those 100 minutes as a fundamentalist with strong belief and thoughts. Having being seen in small roles so far, he was the only other character (apart from the central protagonist Rajeev Khandewal) in Aamir around whom the film revolved. The adage of 'less can be more' was proven once more by Gajrao Rao who spoke less but still made a very good impact.
6 - Ashwini Kalsekar (Phoonk)
Really-really over the top, Ashwini Kalsekar was sometimes menacing, sometimes humorous and sometimes scary in Phoonk. Required to approach her role in a particular manner as per the demand of the script, she didn't disappoint at all. Her ferocious laugh resonated throughout the screening of Phoonk where she played the trouble maker in the life of young girl Ehsaas Channa. She did well in the role of a Black Magic practioner and was particularly impressive since otherwise such characters are shown to be belonging to small towns/villages. As an urban woman who had a score to settle with a builder, she was quite believable and someone whom audience would love to hate.
5 - Govind Namdeo (Sarkar Raj)
Ever since Govind Namdeo has decided to work in only A grade projects, there is a clear spark that can be witnessed in his performances. Last year it was Johnny Gaddaar and this year it is Sarkar Raj where he has left an impact. As a deal broker who just spoke of business without picking up a gun or even raising a hand, he got really well into the character. Watch him start mouthing certain sentences only to leave them mid-way and letting people speculate on the rest in Sarkar Raj. Bringing in a touch of humor in his performance, he couldn't be taken lightly in Sarkar Raj. No wonder, his character was shown a door by Aishwarya Rai in the film.
4 - Kay Kay Menon (Shaurya)
Enacting one of the grayest characters of 2008, Kay Kay Menon impressed in a big way in Shaurya. As Brigadier Rudra Pratap Singh who had a thing or two against a particularly community, he tried to bring across a point. Was it justified enough? Not at all, but for the character that he enacted, he made sure that it did come across as being justified. Watch out for the scenes that he shares with Rahul Bose in the film; they are sheer dynamite as Kay Kay Menon clearly dominates the proceedings. Especially volatile is his climax act where he seems to be truly unrepenting about his deeds.
3 - Akshaye Khanna (Race)
There is something about coming together with the director duo of Abbas-Mustan that makes Akshaye Khanna a mischievous villain of the piece. He did that earlier in 'Humraaz' and last year did that again in Race. As a wayward youngster who couldn't be taken seriously, his turn into a master planner came across as pretty surprising in Race. Though he didn't mouth ferocious dialogues or made his mannerisms menacing in Race, it was the humor in his performance that stood out most. In a film where just about everyone was playing a gray character, his sweet dialogues dipped in poison never failed to bring on a smile.
2 - Pradeep Rawat (Ghajini)
In an age where glamorous females were turning out to be villain of the piece and boys were smiling their way as a villain, Pradeep Rawat appeared as a full on villain who had to be taken seriously when confronted with. No wonder, someone like Aamir Khan had to work extra hard on building a physique that could help take on Pradeep Rawat one-on-one! He has appeared a couple of times earlier with Aamir Khan (Sarfarosh, Lagaan) and with 'Ghajini', he has scored a hat trick. His dialogue delivery, though inspired by Govind Namdeo, was pretty impressive in 'Ghajini', something that made him sound really scary. Almost rustic in appeal, he should bag some interesting roles from here on.
1 - Saif Ali Khan (Race)
Saif Ali Khan played a character which was so twisted, perhaps it itself didn't know which way was it headed! In Race, Saif Ali Khan brought a cool side to his villainy, something which reminded of his Ek Haseena Thi act. While in Ek Haseena Thi, he was more of a womaniser, in 'Race', he was someone who was just a pure businessman who didn't like people stabbing him on his back. The role demanded him to come up with a balanced act and he didn't disappoint as a man who couldn't bear to see someone else walking away with his hard earned money. He changed his entire look and wardrobe for this role and came out with flying colours.