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Here's How 2020 Turned Out to be Year of the Underdog


Last Updated: December 23, 2020, 15:25 IST

L to R: Pratik Gandhi, Kunal Kemmu, Maanvi Gagroo, Ahana Kumra, Ishwak Singh

L to R: Pratik Gandhi, Kunal Kemmu, Maanvi Gagroo, Ahana Kumra, Ishwak Singh

As 2020 winds up, we look at 11 artists whose performances in films and web series we loved and appreciated the most.

Bollywood will always run high on big names and surnames but things have been slightly different this year. As 2020 draws to an end, you cannot help but notice this has been a great year for many who don’t come from an illustrious background.

Far removed from the dazzle of bloodline, this has been a year when the underdog made news in the world of showbiz. A big reason for this trend is the advent of OTT, a domain that creates a level playing ground for all.

IANS lists names that stole the show, coming out of nowhere.

Pratik Gandhi

He has to be one of the best additions to the Hindi entertainment space after his performance in Hansal Mehta’s biographical drama, “Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story". The show has made his career graph soar.


Pratik was making his mark on the Gujarati screen and stage when the Harshad Mehta bio-series happened. He tells IANS that he believes that 2020 has definitely been a gamechanger for him in every way.

“It (the series) changed my year upside down and I would like to call this year ‘Scamdamic’ for myself! Scam 1992 gave me a lot of things and I am trying to digest the fact that everything is really happening around me after the show. This entire year 2020 has taught me a lot of things on a personal level, too," he said.

Pratik added that 2020 will always be in his memories as one of the “biggest milestones" of his life.

Jitendra Kumar

He always had a niche fan base thanks to his Viral Fever sketches, but 2020 proved to be the gamechanger. He courted fame with his portrayal of Ayushmann Khurrana’s on-screen gay lover in starrer “Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan", which released in February. But the show that made him a household name was “Panchayat", a satirical web series where he played a big city boy who ends up as secretary in the gram panchayat of a remote village. He was also seen in the digitally released film, “Chaman Bahaar".

Jitendra told IANS that he has been a part of a change in the film world. “This year has given me a lot. I have been able to experiment with such diverse scripts. I have enjoyed delivering content to the audience that they or I never thought would be such a hit. Be it Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan, or OTT projects like Panchayat and Chaman Bahaar, I thoroughly cherished everything and also got so much love and appreciation from everyone. So, in all I can safely say that I have been part of a change in the film world, which will be remembered," he said.

Maanvi Gagroo

She was loved for her portrayal of the affable Goggle in “Shubh Mangal Zyada Savdhaan", but it was her performance as Siddhi in season two of “Four More Shots Please!" that helped her gain a massive fandom and spotlighted her acting skills.

“The year had already started on a good note with my character, Goggle, from Shubh Mangal Zyada Savdhaan getting so much love. It really has been somewhat of a gamechanger. Season two of Four More Shots Please came right at the beginning of the lockdown, in April, when people were still trying to make sense of the ‘new normal," Maanvi told IANS.

Siddhant Chaturvedi

If playing MC Sher in “Gully Boy" last year made him famous, he has been relishing the success of the act this year. He signed a starring role opposite Deepika Padukone and Ananya Panday in an untitled film, has the horror comedy “Phone Bhoot" opposite Katrina Kaif, stars in “Bunty Aur Babli 2" with Rani Mukerji and Saif Ali Khan.

This year, he turned singer, too, with his first single “Dhoop" released during lockdown. “Dhoop", a song relevant to the pandemic, got him big views, love and followers from all age groups. Siddhant’s track dropped on June 4 and currently it has over 2,82,263 views on YouTube.

Vidyut Jammwal

No one quite gave him a chance, no one believed he could ‘act’ beyond flaunting biceps and engaging in insane action. Which is precisely what he did in 2020, in the digitally-released film “Khuda Haafiz". The action-driven film had enough scope for drama, and Vidyut in turn managed to impress with his act. The film is all set to get a sequel now.

Faruk Kabir, director of “Khuda Haafiz" told IANS: “Vidyut’s breakthrough performance this year in Khuda Haafiz and him metamorphosing from just an action star to a well-received actor this year is commendable. He has put in an enormous amount of effort into his performance. It’s great that Vidyut is being spoken about as one of the breakthrough performances of the year, because he has truly surprised the audience."

Ishwak Singh

He has featured in films such as “Veere Di Wedding" and “Tum Bin II", but it is only in 2020 that he became a familiar name among the Hindi audience. It was his act as the earnest rookie cop Imran Ansari in the web series “Paatal Lok", which helped him become a known face.

Ishwak told IANS: “I have to say it has been very challenging, at times hurtful and at times very difficult, but at the same time it’s all been extremely remarkable. I can’t deny it. It’s unfortunate that I had to use the word for a year like this but then it did bring me on the map. I am now known for the skill set I represent, the work and acting I represent. Clearly, after 2020 people get a sense of that. Some people get me and some people are aware of me — which is immensely satisfying."

Kunal Kemmu

Kunal Kemmu has forever been around, always an underdog despite being universally applauded as a talented actor since the days when he entered Bollywood as a child artiste. This year Kunal outdid himself playing a bad guy — a psycho cop — in “Malang". The role in the Mohit Suri film resonated for the deceptively quiet quality with which Kunal blended the character’s inherent and gruesome violent streak.

He was also loved in the comedy film “Lootcase", a role that had Amitabh Bachchan sending him a note of appreciation. Then there was his gritty act in the second season of the web-series “Abhay".

Kunal told IANS that when it comes to work, 2020 has been exciting and humbling for him. “It’s given me a chance to portray some interesting roles in different genres and I’ve been very lucky to get so much love for each one of my projects, be it Malang, Lootcase or Abhay. It’s too early to say if the year has been a gamechanger but it’s definitely made the game much more interesting," he said.

Sharad Kelkar

It’s interesting how Sharad Kelkar stole some of Akshay Kumar’s thunder in the film “Laxmii". It was his character as the original transgender, or “kinnar", that was more talked about. Sharad also delivered his best as Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj in the film “Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior".

“It’s a privilege for any actor to play Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj and I am thankful that people loved my portrayal of him. Since the film was a huge success, the year started on a high note. Then came Special Ops and Laxmii, both extremely special projects and I’m grateful that my performances in both were lauded. I’m happy to end the year with Black Widows. I believe that it’s not just about one year; it’s the hard work and journey of the last 18 years that’s bearing fruit for me now," he said.


He has undoubtedly created a buzz with his performance as Munna bhaiya in “Mirzapur 2" and Akhil in “Bichoo Ka Khel".

Divyenndu told IANS that he is thankful that he received unparalleled response for his characters.

“While I know that this year has been challenging because of the pandemic, I also feel grateful that I was a part of such incredible stories. It’s an amazing feeling how three of the characters that I played this year were acknowledged well by the audience and the critics. Right now, as the year wraps up, I’m just relishing every moment. 2020 was definitely a year of good and exciting content," he said.

Ahana Kumra

She started the year with “Marzi", which navigates the fading line between power, deception, and trust. She then turned into a zombie for “Betaal". She will be ending the year on a hilarious note, in Rohan Sippy’s thoroughly enjoyable sitcom “Sandwiched Forever".

Ahana agrees that 2020 has been a “roller coaster ride".

“Although it was lockdown and we didn’t get to be a part of any of the events or the madness that comes with each release, I think there have been so many wonderful releases this year. Also, because everything had to be released on OTT, I am still trying to find my voice, I am still trying to see what other roles I can play. But yes, this instils confidence and faith in me to just keep experimenting. I am glad that as a woman, as a female actor, I am getting to do this," Ahana told IANS.

Vijay Varma

Actor Vijay Varma gained fandom playing Moeen in “Gully Boy" last year. In 2020, he proved the act was no flash in the pan. He made quite an entry into the world of “Mirzapur" as the twins Shatrughan and Bharat Tyagi in the second season of the show. In the next season, he is very much here to stay. Vijay also garnered praise for his roles in Tigmanshu Dhulia’s OTT-released film “Yaara", and the Imtiaz Ali-created web series “She".

Talking to IANS previously, Vijay had said: “I think I got content as soon as I found the recognition that I was so craving for, which I feel I was rightfully deserving. It’s been nice. Over the years I have evolved as a person and I figured out I cannot be at unrest all the time. Now it is a lot easier."

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(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed - IANS)
first published:December 23, 2020, 14:19 IST
last updated:December 23, 2020, 15:25 IST