For any actor on the rise, playing a significant role across Deepika Padukone in a movie can be considered a major milestone. In Meghna Gulzar's Chhapaak, Vikrant Massey plays the principled but grouchy founder of an NGO that works for acid attack survivors. He and Malti (Padukone) share a sweet love story and refreshingly, he doesn't play the 'male saviour'. Massey may have 4 more movie releases this year including Ram Prasad Ki Tehrvi, Dolly Pinky Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare and Ginny Weds Sunny.
Vikrant has silently persevered for this moment. Since 2007 he's dabbled in everything from TV shows to shorts, web shows and smaller parts in movies. He's been consistently prolific and made a mark with every performance, regardless of the scope, nature or length of a role. Here's looking back on the 10 most defining roles of the actor's career across the years.
Following a supporting turn in the Disney show Dhoom Machao Dhoom, it was in period drama Dharam Veer where Vikrant landed his first lead role as the righteous prince Dharam. This was a tale of two brothers born into royalty whose bond is tested over the various trials and hardships which threaten their kingdom. The show ran on NDTV Imagine for over 195 episodes.
Vikrant's next TV outing, the immensely popular Balika Vadhu on Colours, made him a household name in 2009. He played Shyam, who's unwavering devotion and sacha pyaar allowed him to defy societal norms and marry the girl he loves, a widow. Vikrant has defended the show in the past saying it was a series which spoke about girl child education and female infanticide. In an interview to The Statesman, he said, "That show ran for 7 years and eventually landed up contributing or probably influencing laws within the Parliament for girl child education and female infanticide."
It was in Vikramaditya Motwane's Lootera where film audiences were first introduced to the talented actor. As Dev, the fellow con man and best friend to Ranveer Singh's Varun, Vikrant managed to have a memorable impact despite limited screen time. He briefly got stuck in the 'hero's best friend' rut with films like Half Girlfriend but consistently delivered solid performances even in those parts. In Zoya Akhtar's Dil Dhadakne Do he played the affable Rana who falls in love with the daughter of his father's business rival. Zoya later said that she extended his role in the film after seeing what he can do.
In what remains his most significant movie role yet, Vikrant delivers a vulnerable and deeply affecting performance and managed to stand out amongst an ensemble of some of the finest performers. In Konkona Sensharma's sparkling directorial debut, Vikrant brought a quiet tenderness to his character Shutu who is bullied and neglected by his family and friends. It's impossible to imagine any other actor doing justice to the part in quite the same way.
In Alankrita Srivastava's Lipstick Under My Burkha, Vikrant proved he could play the textbook asshole with just as much conviction as he could the mild-mannered soft soul. As the entitled, selfish lover, he showed us he could bring as much volatility and aggression to a character as he could the quiet restraint he's come to be known for.
It can be argued that the true test of an actor is what they bring to projects where the material is not as strong as others. Across two seasons of ALTBalaji's web series Broken But Beautiful, Vikrant elevated a seemingly straightforward romantic drama to far more than it is. He was lovely as the broken-hearted investment banker who meets a kindred spirit and must learn to love again. He was equally impactful in the 2018 Amazon Prime Video gangster drama Mirzapur where he was the brains to Ali Fazal's brawn.
The rare instance of a Hindi film dabbling in the sci-fi thriller space, Copy is a 40-minute short for television written by Sujoy Ghosh in which Vikrant played the dual role of a man and his robot clone. What begins as an attempt to help him manage his marriage and extramarital affair quickly goes wrong as the robot tries to replace him. Vikrant brought genuine credibility and conviction to the film as both selfish adulterer and his chilling doppelgänger.
The adaptation of the hit British show of the same name opened to mixed reviews, but it was Vikrant's performance that made it so eminently watchable and anchored the series. As the potential murderous psychopath, Vikrant walked the delicate tight rope between two extremes and kept audiences on their toes, whilst also portraying the gradual deterioration of life behind bars.
In one of his most recent outings, Vikrant starred across Shweta Tripathi in Arati Kadav's ambitious indie set in space. A fascinating examination of connection and isolation, he played a male astronaut with the morbid job of helping the recently deceased pass on to what's next whilst slowly succumbing to loneliness, until a female astronaut is sent to assist him. Vikrant brought a distinct sense of authority and gradual sensitivity to the role of a man who's slowly thawing and rediscovering his humanity.
In Chhapaak, Vikrant plays Amol, a former journalist who now runs an NGO for acid attack survivors. Amol is angry and rarely smiles. During on of his arguments with Malti (played by Deepika Padukone) he says he can barely afford a kurta for himself. In a wonderful scene, Mali reminds him that it's her and not him who was suffering from an acid attack. Vikrant makes Amol loveable and earnest. He loses himself in the part, without trying to play the hero.