The urge for acting stems from the passionate beliefs and opinions developed by an individual over the years. It is a form of communication where the individual develops an emotional alliance with the audience. So when we differentiate this profession into film acting and stage acting the existence of a culturally specific performance style will always play a central role. Since each of these mediums has its own set of requirements, some actors are at their greatest on the stage, others in front of the camera, and some work brilliantly in both. Adil Hussain is one such actor who knows how to adjust to the crossover between the two mediums.

Before embarking on his journey into films, Adil Hussain, a National School of Drama alumnus, had wide experience in theatres and plays. Hussain belongs to that ilk of a handful of Indian actors working in the contemporary set-up who has helped push the envelope toward the progress of film acting. He and his peers have accelerated the ascend of popular cinema by pursuing challenging roles in their quest for perfection. 

In a Nation where the value of an actor is measured with the box office success and economics drives the stardom, an actor like Adil Hussain proves that the 100-500 crore club is by no means an accurate measure of his commitment as an actor. With an acting career spanning over two decades, Adil has acted in films of various languages and performed each of his roles with sheer vitality irrespective of its screen-time. He has acted in international projects too with directors such as Ang Lee, Mira Nair and others. He had also acted in a popular television series Jasoos Vijay (2002) for Doordarshan. He has also acted in a couple of short films. 

High On Films in collaboration with Avanté

Sharing his experience of working with Adil Hussain on his short film Saving Chintu (2020), Tushar Tyagi, the director, says that he reached out to Hussain on Instagram and approached him for the role of Dr. Sanjay. Hussian reciprocate and responded with an email after a gap of few weeks because he was busy shooting in Atlanta. But Tushar did not open the email immediately because he was scarred thinking what if Hussain did not like the script. But that did not happen and Hussain agreed to work in the short film. The experience that Tushar had working with Hussain was beyond amazing. Due to budgetary constraints, Tushar and his producers had to squeeze a three-day schedule into one. Tushar was worried that it would be very exhausting for Hussain. But to Tushar’s surprise, Hussain was very supportive and completed the shoot without a fuss. Hussain had also graciously supported Tushar in the promotion of the short film.

Adil Hussain has won a special mention at the National Film Awards in 2017. His performance as a tormented individual from a minority community of India, in Abhiroop Basu’s Meal (2020), fetched him the Best Actor prize at Pune International Film Festival (PIFF) in 2019. His reputation catapulted to new heights by playing the character of Aditya Sahil in the American TV series Star Trek: Discovery (2020). He has worked with first-time filmmakers like Abhishek Chaubey, Gauri Shinde, Shubhashish Bhutiani, as well as veterans like Gautam Ghosh, Prakash Jha, and others. Some of the key features of his flawless performances are:

  • a wonderful sensitivity to the character without turning it into a stereotypical entity.
  • riveting yet understated. 
  • elevating the character to a renewed level with dignity and poise.
  • bringing credibility to his role with strength and total conviction.
  • reveal contradictory human emotions at the outer and inner levels.

Here are the 10 Best Adil Hussain Performances in Feature Films.

1. Vidyadhar Verma in Ishqiya (2010)

Adil Hussain in Ishqiya

The character of Vidyadhar Verma played by Adil Hussain in Abhishek Chaubey’s Ishqiya does not share the screen time like his co-actors Vidya Balan, Naseeruddin Shah, or Arshad Warsi. But yet he mesmerizes the viewers with the portrayal of an individual who thinks and acts without regard for others. His behavior is underlined with lying, cheating, and manipulating others for personal gain.

Adil’s skilled performance raises the bar of the film by few notches. He gives the character of Vidyadhar Verma a personality trait, which is a combination of thoughts, emotions, experiences, and behaviors that compels the viewers to dislike the character as soon as the secret of his identity is revealed. As the film begins, Vidyadhar displays control over his partner Krishna Verma. Vidyadhar manipulates Krishna by using a variety of tactics, including gaslighting, because he has hatched a deceitful plan. Adil perfectly depicts a ruthless character, residing in a world without social values.

2. Upin in Gangor (2010)

Over the years, ethical codes and conduct in Journalism have evolved. At the same time, a committed journalist should also refrain from the temptation and should not cross the thin line of what can be published should be published. There should be some moral censorship. But if a professional journalist transgresses these ethical standards, will he lose all his credibility? Italo Spinelli’s Gangor, adapted from a story by noted Bengali author Mahasweta Devi, addresses such grave concerns.

Upin, played by Adil, is a benevolent photojournalist. He visits a village in rural Bengal to cover a story about violence against women. Instead, he is mesmerized by the dusky charm of a village woman Gangor (Priyanka Bose) and clicks a photograph of her breastfeeding her child. The photo gets published in the papers and initiates an unforeseen repercussion where the poor woman is subjected to all manner of indignities. She is excluded from her society and labeled as a woman of low morals. All these events take an emotional toll on Upin. Plagued by moral guilt, he is involuntarily drawn into the vortex of moral dilemma. A virtuoso performance by Adil, where the sharp and incisive delineation of the immorality of Upin is convincing.

3. Satish Godbole in English Vinglish (2012)

English Vinglish (2012)



The entire infrastructure of a marriage in a patriarchal society is comprised of adjustment processes at various levels. It is an undertaking that is interwoven with personal impressions, ideas, emotions, and prejudices as ideologies. Shashi (Sridevi) and Satish (Adil Hussain) Godbole are two such married people. As parents, they are actively involved in the nurturing and raising of their children. But Shashi has lost a sense of self and self-worth while dedicatedly working as a homemaker.

And Satish is so busy with his office and a social life that he is unaware of this bitter situation. So, when Satish, towards the end of the film, asks Shashi, ‘Do you still love me?’, there is remorse and fear in his mannerism. This is such a poignant moment in the film that portrays the truth in the character of Satish who seems to have been defeated in his relationship with his wife. But the tender relationship between them has not yet been fully damaged. So in due course of time, the option for reconciliation is open. Without turning Satish into a stereotypical person, Adil brings a wonderful sensitivity to the character.

Stream English Vinglish on Jio

4. Joshi in Arunoday (Sunrise, 2014)

Arunoday (Sunrise, 2014)

Partho Sen-Gupta’s psychological drama depicts the anguish and guilt of a policeman, Laxman Joshi played by Adil Hussain, whose young daughter is missing. Laxman sets out on a methodical search to find his daughter and the subsequent events that unfold make Arunoday a film the dwells upon the emotional lives of a middle-class family.

As the story eventually arrives at a solution, it is not about the solution. It is about the journey, and it provides Adil with scenes that test his limits. Laxman is a powerful character not because of what he depicts, but because of the depths of the human heart which he strips bare. 

5. The Stranger in The Violin Player (2015)

Adil Hussain in The Violin Player

The minimalistic drama by Bauddhayan Mukherji is seventy-two minutes long, and its story unfolds slowly and obliquely. Adil plays the role of a strange filmmaker who employs a violin player played by Ritwick Chakraborty to compose a music piece for a sleazy scene. Both the characters do not talk to one another very often and their cues are shared mostly through signs.

Adil’s gestures, postures, and body language add a lot of emotions and feelings to the character. He is more efficacious than being verbal. His brooding expression heightens the tension as well as the suspenseful moment of the scenes. He adds pure, exhilarating mastery on the screen, brimming with confidence and flair, and balances the character with a judicious mix of eccentricity and seriousness.

Adil Hussain’s The Violin Player featured in The 15 Nest Indian Films of 2016

6. Rajiv in Mukti Bhawan (Hotel Salvation, 2016)

Adil Hussain in Mukti Bhawan

Rajiv is caught amid a complicated social and psychological predicament when had to accompany his aging father to Mukti Bhawan, a temporary housing facility for the elderly who suspect that they will soon leave for their heavenly abode. Adil’s performance feels like it touches our everyday life in a way that we can recognize the difficult situation that he has to encounter.

His flawless performance permits silence to grow as he expresses his dilemma facially. His low-key performance shines with an aura of longing, melancholy, and some restrained humor. Adil Hussain received a special mention at the 64th National Film Award for Mukti Bhavan and Maj Rati Ketiki, with the citation from the jury members that says, ‘Two different films, two different characters, one same actor. One word brilliant.

Adil Hussain’s Hotel Salvation featured in The 25 best Hindi Films of the decade (2010s)

7. Mirza in What Will People Say (2017)

What Will People Say (2017)

Adil Hussain who plays the role of Mirza in Iram Haq’s multiple award-winning sophomore, is a person who has cultivated strict religious principles over the years. Adil breathes life into a complex patriarchal character, who tries to control a destiny beyond his reach. Mirza’s emotions have been accentuated through the silent expressions and achieved through an accentuated performance emphasizing his anger.

The viewers develop hatred as well empathizes with the character of Mirza. His cruel behavior against his daughter Nisha, played by Maria Mozhdah, is a consequence of his helplessness owing to a rigid mindset. And the inclination to adapt to the changing situations of contemporary society becomes very difficult for a person whose core has weakened. Mirza is incapable of dealing with the demands of a changing world and Adil convincingly delivers the thought. Adil Hussain became the first Indian actor to win the Amanda Awards in Norway for Best Actor in 2018.

Stream Adil Hussain’s ‘What Will people say?’ on Netflix

8. Lakhua in The Wayfarers (2019) 

Adil Hussain in The Wayfarers (2019) 

Adil Hussain plays the role of an orphan Lakhua, a daily wage laborer in rural India, and unflinchingly depicts the hardship and agony in the character. Adil brings the grueling examination of an individual from the lower strata of the Indian economy doing what he can to survive in a nation that is actively working against their existence.

Hussain’s minimalistic yet moving performance helps the character of Lakhua to elevate to a spiritual level and creates a kind of directness that makes him instantly relatable. Hussain’s performance presents a style of stripped-down social realism and extracts empathy from the viewers with the brave face his character puts on, masking the low spirits of his social situation.

9. Jogiraj in Nirvana Inn (2019)

Adil Hussain in Nirvana Inn


Nirvana Inn tells the story of Jogiraj Chakraborthy aka Jogi (Adil Hussain), a former boatman, who used to ferry tourists in Majuli, one of the largest river islands in Assam. Due to an unfortunate event, he leaves his native state and now works as a caretaker in a resort up in the mountains. While trying to settle in the new environment, the troubled protagonist comes across quirky characters and bizarre situations that make him realize that it is not easy to wash off the misdoing of past sins.

Adil Hussain’s effective performance is meticulously structured in its emotional progression. His guilt-ridden expression is so natural that it immediately strikes a chord with the viewer. He utters the Hindi dialogues with an Assamese accent that brings such naturalism that one is compelled to believe in the authenticity of the character.

10. Buchi Pasvan in Pareeksha (2020)

Adil Hussain in Pareeksha (2020)

Adil Hussain plays the role of a rickshaw puller, Buchi Pasavan, in Prakash Jha’s ambitious tale of a poor individual who desires his son to study in an English medium school. The film’s outward simplicity belies its thematic sophistication. The narrative of the film is strengthened by the fact that it explores the opportunity of the actualization of democracy and inequality in our society.

Hussain’s remarkable performance depicts the aspirations and agony of a father who dreams for his son’s better future. As Hussain pulls the rickshaw like a professional with children seated, Buchi achieves an effortless charming naturalness. Buchi is a simple man with tender emotions, and Hussain lets us inside his secret heart. 

Stream Adil Hussain’s Pareeksha on Zee5

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