The 25 Best Performances Of The Decade

best of the decade

The previous decade saw Pakistani cinema rise from the ashes, and many actors set the silver screen on fire with their scintillating performances, setting a new standard of excellence for the performing arts in the country. Galaxy Lollywood’s editorial panel and writers discussed and voted on the performances from the decade past that stole the limelight, and here we present you with the Best 25 Performances Of The Decade, listed in chronological order.

1.Humaima Malick – Bol (2011)

Humaima Malick was handed over a character that was possibly the strongest ever for a woman in Pakistani cinema’s history, and she truly made it her own, giving the performance of a lifetime. Playing Zainab in the Shoaib Mansoor helmed project, Humaima delivered an intense, power-packed performance that truly brought out the inner conflicts and challenges, and also gave the story its edgy, emotional core. 

2.Manzar Sehbai – Bol (2011)

Manzar Sehbai in Bol is truly an act to remember. Playing Hakeem Shafatullah in Shoaib Mansoor’s gritty take on many social ills, Manzar embodied his character’s innate aggression, misogyny and lack of empathy in a manner that made the audience gasp and grimace in revulsion. This one was a performance of a lifetime that will go down as one of the iconic ones in Pakistani cinema.

3.Sarmad Khoosat – Manto (2015)

Essaying the titular character in the tortured writer’s biopic, Sarmad Khoosat was able to transcend the barrier of make-believe to carve out a performance that was effectively haunting, gut-wrenching and real. This one was truly a spectacular debut from the actor, all the more brilliant as he was also directing the movie.

4.Yasir Hussain – Karachi Se Lahore (2015)

Playing Moti/Mutazalzal in Karachi Se Lahore, Yasir Hussain proved he had the perfect comic timing and screen presence to ensure that his performance would be noticed in a star-studded ensemble cast that starred many established actors. The movie’s laugh-a-minute one-liners were delivered with perfection by Yasir, and by the time the end credits rolled, the audience knew that Pakistani cinema’s next big comic act had arrived.

5.Sohai Ali Abro – Jawani Phir Nahi Ani (2015)

Playing Zoya, Sohai Ali Abro managed to turbo-charge the second half of a film in a way no other actor has possibly managed in recent Pakistani cinema. Without overdoing her act, she brought the right amount of verve, eccentricity, and fierceness to the hilarious role that completely won over the audiences.

6.Fahad Mustafa – Actor In Law (2016)

Fahad Mustafa essayed the character of a struggling actor who ends up posing as a lawyer who fights for the people. He excelled showcasing the film’s quick-witted and socially aware brand of humor in his performance, which will go down as one of the best from the decade. The icing on the cake was his superb chemistry with fellow actor Mehwish Hayat.

7.Nayyer Ejaz – Mehrunnisa V Lub U (2017)

While Nayyer Ejaz has quite a few outstanding performances to his credit over the past decade, his turn as the transgendered villain Marzi in Mehrunnisa V Lub U was particularly memorable for the sheer scale of tongue-in-cheek malevolence it brought to the screen. His performance will rank along with the finest in a negative role in Pakistan’s film history.

8.Mehwish Hayat – Punjab Nahi Jaungi (2017)

Mehwish Hayat essayed the career-defining character of Amal in this 2017 box office extravaganza and captured the hero’s – as well as the audience’s heart – with the natural poise and grace with which she played the role that stands up to a feudal, patriarchal mindset. She convincingly portrayed Amal’s turbulent emotional arc, excelling in the romantic scenes as well as the dramatic and emotional ones.

9.Humayun Saeed – Punjab Nahi Jaungi (2017)

Fawad Khagga will go down in history as one of Pakistani cinema’s most iconic characters, and Humayun Saeed brought just the right Punjabi accent and small-town mannerisms to make his performance a truly memorable one. Whether it was serenading the heroine, shaking a leg to a mehndi number or displaying some traditional Punjabi machismo, Humayun did it all with panache.

10.Shaan Shahid – Arth The Destination (2017)

Shaan Shahid’s turn as a struggling, forgotten musician in Arth The Destination was a class act – the star excelled in channeling the right amount of pathos and hope through a character that was different from anything he had done before. Shaan demonstrated his acting prowess and left us all impressed, once again.

11.Uzma Hassan – Arth The Destination (2017)

Uzma Hassan in Arth The Destination essayed the complex character of a woman on the edge after discovering her husband is having an extra-marital affair. In her debut film role, she displayed solid histrionics and mesmerized the audience by emoting the angst, trauma, and conflict of her character brilliantly.

12.Aamina Sheikh – Cake (2018)

Aamina Sheikh played Zareen in Cake, a 30-something who is veritably her family’s sole caretaker in the absence of her foreign-settled siblings. Aamina quite effortlessly managed to translate the grey character’s inner frustrations, struggles, and conflicts on-screen, managing to give a performance that will stay with us for years.

13.Sanam Saeed – Cake (2018)

In a film with the most realistic portrayal of a dysfunctional family in Pakistani cinema ever, Sanam Saeed did exceedingly well as Zara, a pivotal character in the film who has left Pakistan for mysterious reasons. That she managed to build effortless chemistry on screen with the rest of the cast only added to her performance. 

14.Mohammed Ahmed – Cake (2018)

As the aging Sindhi feudal, Mohammad Ahmad’s performance in Cake was the glue that gelled the talented ensemble cast together. Whether it was drama, irony or humor, the seasoned thespian aced practically all the sequences in the film and made his role one of the most memorable from the decade.

15.Ali Zafar – Teefa In Trouble (2018)

Ali Zafar in Teefa In Trouble’s titular character brought the first truly masala action hero on screen, who can stick-fight with as equal ease as he can serenade his lady love. Teefa will easily go down as one of the more memorable action-comedy figures in Pakistani cinema’s history, and credit has to be given to Ali for doing a brilliant job.

16.Maya Ali – Teefa In Trouble (2018)

Maya Ali sprung up a pleasant surprise debuting as Anya in Teefa In Trouble, impressing the audience and the critics with the devil-may-care rebellious streak she brought to her role. While occasionally the damsel in distress, Anya proves by the end of the film that she can hold her own fort quite well, and credit has to be given to Maya’s performance that is equal parts spunky as it is charming and endearing.

17.Ahmad Ali Butt – JPNA 2 (2018)

Ahmad Ali Butt truly shined as PP in the second installment of the Jawani Phir Nahi Ani franchise, showing the world that none of his contemporaries could quite match his comic prowess. With his gender-bending act in the latter portions of the film, he literally brought the house down with a performance that was equal parts slapstick as it was surreal.

18.Faiza Hassan – Load Wedding (2018)

Faiza Hassan’s performance as Baby Baaji in Load Wedding kept the audiences hooked as they saw her character develop from one on the sidelines to one that eventually takes the center stage by the time the film’s climax rolls. She was in equal parts funny, manipulative, angry and desperate – in short truly brilliant. 

19.Hajra Yamin – Pinky Memsaab (2018)

In the titular character of Pinky, Hajra brought to life the timid, small-town girl who is hired as the domestic help in UAE, who comes of age through the many tricky twists life throws her way. Hajra fleshed out Pinky’s quiet inner strength and resilience superbly and ended up winning the audience’s heart by the time the end credits roll.

20.Rashid Farooqui – Laal Kabootar (2019)

Playing a bad-cop with his heart in the right place, policing the chaotic streets of Karachi was never going to be an easy job but all credit has to go to Rashid Farooqui for making it all look effortlessly realistic. His earthy, gritty performance managed to hold the audience rapt in attention right till the surreal concluding moments of the film. 

21.Ahmed Ali Akbar – Laal Kabootar (2019)

Ahmed Ali Akbar impressed as the quick-witted, street smart cab-driver who gets tangles himself into a plot that is far more sinister than it initially seems. This was Ahmed’s first lead role in a film and he seems to have made the best of the opportunity, as the usually hard-to-impress critics, as well as the audience, were all singing tall praises.

22.Meera – Baaji (2019)

Let’s just put it this way – no other actor could have pulled off Shameera, the aging, insecure and scandal-ridden screen siren, as well as Meera did. She not only excelled in Baaji’s many dramatic and emotional sequences but also looked glamorous in the movie’s many tastefully shot song and dance sequences. This one was truly a grand return to glory for the actor.

23.Amna Ilyas – Baaji (2019)

In Baaji, Amna Ilyas played the salon masseuse Neha, a somewhat ambitious ingénue who eventually wins over the trust of a former star. The star hit all the right notes in bringing to life the tempestuous journey of her character, imbuing her very controlled performance with the right amount of emotion, poise, and enigma.

24.Mahira Khan – Superstar (2019)

In Superstar’s Noori Mahira Khan got to play a character that showcased the whole wide range of emotions, be it, love, betrayal, anger or grief. With her fine performance, the star proved that she is truly the queen of romantic drama. Add to this the fact that she looked like a million bucks and danced like a dream. It was a performance par excellence, indeed.

25.Sheheryar Munawar – Parey Hut Love (2019)

Sheheryar Munawar essayed his namesake character in Parey Hut Love, a role that required him to showcase the struggles of an up and coming actor who experiences much tumult in his love life. Sheheryar hit all the right notes in bringing out the emotional highs and lows of his character perfectly in his on-screen performance, which will go down as one of the best in the decade.


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