Nine best acting performances in Hindi films in 2020: check out how many you have watched  

A bunch of performances redefined brilliance in Hindi cinema this year. Here is a list of nine memorable performances of 2020, rated by Subhash K Jha

Pratik Gandhi as Harshad Mehta in Scam 1992 (Photo Courtesy: Social Media)
Pratik Gandhi as Harshad Mehta in Scam 1992 (Photo Courtesy: Social Media)

Subhash K Jha

A maid torn between her feelings for her employer and societal propriety; a woman’s insistence on dignity and respect in marriage; a doting father compromising on his principles for funding his son’s education to infusing life into the role of a gruff policeman, a bunch of performances redefined brilliance in Hindi cinema this year. Here is my list of nine memorable performances:

Tillotama Shome in Sir:

Straightway the best performance I saw this year in an Indian film was by this neglected, underrated actress. Playing a household help Ratna whose employer falls in love with her, Shome walked that slender tightrope between sensitivity and incredulity delivering a masterclass for contemporary actors.

She shines in every frame. Shome creates a connection between Ratna’s inner darkened world and the tentative hope and light that she seeks outside without falling back on any compromise. I have not seen a more articulate, flawless performance in a very long time. Vivek Gomber as her employer and suitor steps back and delivers a muted, interestingly shadowy performance where we sense rather than see the man’s sorrow.

Pratik Gandhi in Scam 1992:

Who knew this actor outside Gujarat before he played Harshad Mehta in Hansal Mehta’s bio-series? His staggering sense of self-negation while merging into his character is remarkable. Pratik Gandhi remains rigidly in character. There is no attempt to make the scamster heroic. Nor does the performance wag its finger at the character’s wrongdoings. Pratik Gandhi is henceforth going be the face of Harshad Mehta in all pop-art representation.

Taapsee Pannu in Thappad:

I must confess she is a favourite. Affable, hassle-free, confident, evolved and involved with her roles. Taapsee Pannu brings to her hurt wife’s role a heroic dignity and a distant poignancy that distil in a performance of screaming silences.

I dare any other contemporary actress to equal the sheer persuasive power of Taapsee’s performance. Her lengthy monologue with her onscreen mother-in-law (played by Tanvi Azmi), where she confesses to why she feels like a failure as a woman, a wife and an individual, will be played at awards functions in the nominations show-reel.

Manoj Bajpai in Bhonsle:

Bajpai’s character of the gruff dying cop, who finds a reason to live in his greatness in small, meaningful films while actors with not even a grain of his talent are strutting around as stars in Bollywood.

Adil Hussain in Pareeksha:

After seeing him in this film, I called him the Balraj Sahni of this millennium. In Pareeksha, Adil Hussain as the all-giving father Buchi, an honest, righteous rickshaw puller turns into a thief to accrue money for his son’s education in a posh school. Adil Hussain lifts the sagging portions in the plot. The last time I saw a rickshaw puller who was so dignified and upbeat in his poverty-stricken circumstances was in Bimal Roy’s Do Bigha Zamin.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui in Serious Men:

As an over-reaching father Nawazuddin is in top form, filled with an implosive rage that builds up to a devastating climax. In sequences like the one where he threatens his son’s best friend into silence -- shot on a roof terrace with pigeons and angst for company -- Nawaz is a bundle of nerves ready to explode.

Harshvardhan Rane in Taish:

Harshvardhan Rane, a neglected actor if ever there was one, seems to be swathed in deep anguish in Taish. The pain-lashed performance feels like a man who is whipping himself, watching in awe and dismay as he disintegrates into nothingness. Brilliant!

Saiyami Kher in Choked:

After a rather strangled start in Mirzya four years ago, Saiyami came into her own this year in Anurag Kashyap’s savagely satirical study of working class greed. Saiyami Kher is the film’s hero. She is transformed in the body language, speech and appearance as an overworked, underpaid bank accountant who one night wakes up to find wads of currency notes bubbling out of her clogged (umm…choked) kitchen sink. This Guy Ritchie-Rich intervention could have been savagely funny were it not so sad. Saiyami projects working class greed with conviction.

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