W Power 2024

From Shah Rukh Khan to Rani Mukerji: 2023 Showstoppers - Film edition

Meet the superstars that redefined stardom, stopped the presses, and made headlines this year with their performances on the big screen

Published: Dec 26, 2023 01:38:44 PM IST
Updated: Dec 27, 2023 01:01:54 PM IST

Shah Rukh Khan and Rani MukerjiShah Rukh Khan and Rani Mukerji
Top performers of 2023 who turned heads, made headlines.


Aishwarya Rai Bachchan

Image: Mustafa Yalcin/Anadolu Agency via Getty ImagesImage: Mustafa Yalcin/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
She was the heart and soul of the second installment of Mani Ratnam’s Ponniyin Selvan. In the Tamil film, which is adapted from the historical fiction masterpiece by Kalki, Rai Bachchan’s double role as Nandini and Mandakini Devi (Oomai Rani) received near-unanimous appreciation, as did her performance in climactic scenes with co-actor Vikram, who was also spectacular as Chola prince Aditha Karikalan.

Alia Bhatt

She was named the first global ambassador for Italian luxury house Gucci in May, and two months later, continued her success streak in the Hindi film industry with Rocky aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani. She made her Hollywood debut with OTT film Heart of Stone, alongside Gal Gadot, in August. The actor also announced her film Jigra. Bhatt is also producing the film, which is being directed by Vasan Bala.

Joju George

Image: Tristan Fewings/Getty ImagesImage: Tristan Fewings/Getty Images
His dual role in the film Iratta could certainly be counted among the highlights of his career. From being a junior artiste and an ‘extra’ in films to headlining projects as the solo lead, Joju has had an incredible story of success in the Malayalam film industry. He has had four movie releases so far this year and is gearing up for Antony alongside Kalyani Priyadarshan.


Image: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images for DIFFImage: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images for DIFF
The reigning star of Malayalam cinema had four movie releases this year, but it is with Jeo Baby’s Kaathal: The Core, that he redefined the true meaning of a superstar. At 72, Mammootty has been reinventing himself for a few years now, acting in and producing a diverse array of films. His nuanced and sensitive portrayal of a gay man coming to terms with his sexuality in Kaathal proved how he continues to push the artistic envelope.

Pankaj Tripathi

Image: Madhu KapparathImage: Madhu Kapparath
If there’s an actor who could have lent sensitivity and grace to a film about de-stigmatising masturbation, it is Pankaj Tripathi. His portrayal of a religious man fighting for his son in OMG:2 made the otherwise-tepid film watchable. Tripathi, who received the National Award for his performance in Mimi, has delivered strong performances across both cinema and OTT formats, and will be seen headlining the biopic of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2024.

Rani Mukerji

Rani Mukerji returned to the silver screen after two years and gave a layered and acclaimed performance in Mrs Chatterjee vs Norway. She carried the film entirely on her shoulders, flawlessly depicting the physical, mental and emotional turmoil of a mother who is forcibly separated from her child.

Ranbir Kapoor

After the success of Brahmastra last year, the 41-year-old actor had a fruitful outing at the box office with Tu Jhoothi Main Makkaar in 2023. The romcom, also starring Shraddha Kapoor, was among the top 10 grossers of the year. Kapoor also generated a lot of buzz for his portrayal in Animal.

Ranveer Singh

Image: Daniele Venturelli/Getty Images for The Red Sea International Film FestivalImage: Daniele Venturelli/Getty Images for The Red Sea International Film Festival

Following a spate of flops and underperformers at the box office in the past couple of years, Ranveer Singh managed to score a hit with Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani in 2023. The multi-starrer, featuring the likes of Alia Bhatt and Dharmendra, among others, was among the big commercial successes of last year.

Saiyami Kher

Image: Milind Shelte/The India Today Group via Getty ImagesImage: Milind Shelte/The India Today Group via Getty Images

The actor had two releases in 2023, but it was her performance—as a bowler after losing her right hand in a freak accident—in Ghoomer that got Kher immense appreciation from the critics and audiences. The film wasn’t a box office success, but has been well-received on OTT.

Shah Rukh Khan

Image: Sujit JAISWAL / AFPImage: Sujit JAISWAL / AFP
2023 was undoubtedly the year of Shah Rukh Khan. In January, the superstar set the cash registers ringing with Pathaan—his first solo release since Zero in 2018. The film is the second-highest grosser of the year. The 58-year-old then set the box office on fire in September with Jawan, which has collected over Rs1,100 crore globally to become 2023’s most successful Indian film. His next is Rajkumar Hirani’s Dunki, scheduled to release on December 22. 

Sunny Deol

Image: Prodip Guha/Getty ImagesImage: Prodip Guha/Getty Images
Gadar 2 created mayhem at the box office and reaffirmed 66-year-old Sunny Deol’s star status in the industry and mass hero appeal among the audiences. The sequel to the popular 2001 film Gadar: Ek Prem Katha was loved and embraced by the audiences so much that it became a monstrous hit, earning over Rs525 crore at the Indian box office.

Tovino Thomas

Image: Hari BhagirathImage: Hari Bhagirath
His film 2018 is India’s official entry to the Oscars this year, and he turned heads with his acting in Bijukumar Damodharan’s indie Malayalam film Adrishya Jalakangal. The young actor, who has so far picked an interesting mix of films that showcases his range of skills, also has a handful of big-ticket projects lined up in 2024.

Vijay Sethupathi

Image: Selvaprakash Lakshmanan for Forbes IndiaImage: Selvaprakash Lakshmanan for Forbes India
He was named one of the most popular Indian stars of 2023 by IMDb. The superstar of Tamil cinema, added jewels to his crown this year by diversifying into Hindi cinema with Jawan and an OTT debut with Farzi. His appetite to push artistic boundaries was visible in Gandhi Talks, the first silent film to be screened at the IFFI in Goa in November.

Vikrant Massey

Image: Hindustan Times via Getty ImagesImage: Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Known for his nuanced performances, Vikrant Massey earned several plaudits for his portrayal of an upright IPS aspirant from a poor family in 12th Fail. The film emerged as a sleeper hit in 2023, with people flocking to the theatres purely on the basis of word of mouth.

Yami Gautam

Image: Hindustan Times via Getty ImagesImage: Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Yami Gautam won rave reviews for her convincing act as an opposition lawyer in OMG:2—one of the better films of the year in terms of content that also did well at the box office. The actor also starred in Lost and the heist drama Chor Nikal Ke Bhaga that released on Netflix in March. 



Image: India Today Group/Getty ImagesImage: India Today Group/Getty Images
Arun Kumar, or Atlee, is a film director, screenwriter and producer who primarily works in Tamil cinema. In 2023, he made his debut in Hindi cinema with Jawan starring Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone. It became the highest-earning Hindi domestic earner with a net collection of more than Rs620 crore and Rs1,103.6 crore in worldwide gross collection on the 31st day. It also became the most-watched film in India on Netflix, according to reports dated November 20, two weeks into its release on the streaming platform.

Kedar Shinde

Image: Getty ImagesImage: Getty Images
A Marathi actor, director, producer and writer, Kedar Shinde began his career by directing plays, including the popular comedy Sahi Re Sahi. His comedy film Aga Bai Arecha was a hit at the box office. In 2023, his multi-starrer Baipan Bhaari Deva minted more than Rs50 crore in a month. Cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and politician Raj Thackeray were among the famous personalities who praised the movie that celebrates womanhood and sisterhood.

Karan Johar

Image: Mexy XavierImage: Mexy Xavier
Filmmaker and television personality Karan Johar is the recipient of two National Film Awards for his directorial debut Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Shershaah as its producer. He is also a Padma Shri awardee. In 2023, he returned to direction after seven years, with Rocky aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani, which grossed more than Rs340 crore globally.

Siddharth Anand

Image: Getty ImagesImage: Getty Images
Best known for directing action thriller films such as Bang Bang and War, Siddharth Anand’s Pathaan, starring Shah Rukh Khan, earned Rs600 crore in its first weekend, according to reports. The movie also ranks above Jawan in terms of returns from the theatrical run. Anand’s next, Fighter, starring Hrithik Roshan and Deepika Padukone will release on January 25, 2024.

Vidhu Vinod Chopra

Image: India Today Group/Getty ImagesImage: India Today Group/Getty Images
Director Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s 12th Fail earned over Rs50 crore in net box office collections. Starring Vikrant Massey and Medha Shankar, the movie also released in Tamil, Telugu and Kannada. It has also been submitted as an independent entry for the Oscars. Chopra is known to have directed films such as Parinda and 1942: A Love Story. He has won six National Film Awards.

Category coordinators: Divya J Shekhar, Kunal Purandare and Samidha Jain

Forbes India Showstoppers, in its second year, is a list of 70 achievers who have outperformed in their respective fields—cinema (theatrical release), OTT, music and sports. The timeline considered is January 1 to November 30, 2023. Three months ago, a team of journalists and senior editors at Forbes India started putting together a long list of close to 150 names of actors, filmmakers, musicians, singers and sportspersons, through primary and secondary research. They arrived at the final list of 70 in the first week of December after internal deliberations. For cinema and OTT, the factors under consideration were quality of work, appreciation (critical acclaim and popularity), level of challenge and diversity in roles, pipeline of projects, and box office success. For sports, it was achievements this year, while for music, it was popularity across mainstream genres in 2023.

(This story appears in the 29 December, 2023 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)