2020 may have been slow in terms of film releases, but it never stopped great actors from showing off their talents in career-defining performances. OTT has allowed performers to explore unique characters with compelling results. BizAsiaLive.com looks at this year’s most memorable performances in digital films.
Tripti Dimri – ‘Bulbbul’
Some performances make you do a double-take. Tripti Dimri gave that performance as Bulbbul – a child bride with a dark secret – in only her second film. Mysterious and menacing, light, innocent or jaded, Dimri played each aspect of her role to unexpected perfection. Apart from being majestically beautiful, Bulbbul is a fascinating character made even more captivating thanks to a nuanced performance that demands a rewatch. You can admire Dimri during any scene, she hasn’t missed a single note.
Pankaj Tripathi – ‘Ludo’, ‘Gunjan Saxena’
It is crazy that the same actor has given two great performances that are the polar opposite. As the heart-melting supportive father figure of everyone’s dreams, Pankaj Tripathi was warm and rock-solid in ‘Gunjan Saxena’. He had already earned a spot on this list with that release, but then ‘Ludo’ came along, giving Tripathi a role that is pure chaos. As the unhinged gangster Sattu Bhaiya, Tripathi was spontaneous and hilarious, almost teasing the audience with his acting range. Is there anything this man can’t do?
Adil Hussain – ‘Pareeksha’
In ‘Pareeksha’ Adil Hussain is a father who begs, borrows, and steals to ensure a good education for his son. The toll it takes on his character Buchhi is depicted with realism that needs to come from an earnest place to feel convincing. Hussain is absolutely heart-wrenching. Buchhi does terrible things, but Hussain plays him such love and respect, you can’t help but root for him.
Vikrant Massey – ‘Cargo’
Vikrant Massey stars in ‘Cargo’ as Prahastha– a supposed demon who feels all too human. He lives alone on a spaceship, surrounded too much by life and death, but not enough by the living. ‘Cargo’ is Prahastha’s story of self-isolation and loneliness, which has become all too relevant this year, and Massey’s performance is full of melancholy. He makes the dialogue sound poetic with his soothing voice, somehow portraying a wise old soul with the vulnerability of a person who hasn’t lived life in a long time.
Sanjay Mishra – ‘Kaamyaab’
Sudheer is a veteran character actor who decides to make a comeback when he realizes he is one film away from hitting 500 credits on his IMDB page. Sanjay Mishra is always fantastic, but this character feels special. It is such an honest performance, one can’t help but wonder if this is all really pretend for Mishra. He depicts the volatility of the industry and the joy of performing through two versions of Sudheer, and neither of them feel like an act. I would call it movie magic, but Mishra in ‘Kaamyaab’ is much more than that.
Saiyami Kher – ‘Choked’
Saiyami Kher has made her presence felt this year with memorable performances. In ‘Choked’, she plays Sarita – a frustrated middle-class woman who secretly stumbles upon a large sum of money. Kher shows her character’s despair and bitterness through empty eyes, burnt out from her daily rut. After finding the money, her eyes light up. As she falls deeper into the mess, we see hesitation and fear in her eyes, but the exhaustion never goes away. The performance is so complex, yet so effortless.
Kunal Kemmu – ‘Lootcase’
After ‘Go Goa Gone’ (2013), Kunal Kemmu finally got another comedy film worthy of his talents. Nandan, a hardworking young father, finds an abandoned suitcase full of money. Shenanigans ensue. Whether Kemmu is bonding with the red suitcase like a long-lost friend or spinning lies until they are out of his own control, he finds the bittersweet notes in his jokes. The tragedy in comedy, as they say. Being consistently funny is no laughing matter, but Kemmu goes a step further and finds the humility in the humour.
Harshvardhan Rane – ‘Taish’
Quiet, brooding Harshvardhan Rane silently entered the OTT arena and delivered a performance that feels like a sucker punch to the gut. Who would have thought that Rane would deliver his career best as a British-Punjabi gangster? His portrayal of Palli’s bleeding heart underneath the tough, intimidating exterior is devastating. So is the all-consuming love he has for Jahaan (played by Sanjeeda Shaikh), which reflects in his entire being. ‘Taish’ was made for Harshvardhan Rane. Harshvardhan Rane was made for ‘Taish’. ‘Taish’ and Harshvardhan Rane were made for each other.
No doubt there will be more performances to look forward to next year but, as far as 2020 goes, the actors deserve a big salute.