Bollywood Baatein: 10 best performances of 2021 on OTT

While several Bollywood A-listers like Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan, Hrithik Roshan and Ranbir Kapoor have so far stayed away from the OTT, here are the actors who shone on the digital platform

Bollywood Baatein: 10 best performances of 2021 on OTT

Subhash K Jha

So far, the digital platform has not been very kind to the Bollywood A-listers. Akshay Kumar floundered with Laxmii, Varun and papa David Dhawan delivered the worst film of their career in Coolie No 1. Salman Khan’s Radhe was arguably the worst film of the superstar’s career. As for Anil Kapoor’s AK Versus AK, the less said the better. There’s this ‘It’ factor that goes missing. But some performances were outstanding:

1. Kartik Aaryan in Dhamaka: Kartik Aaryan’s powerful performance holds the film together. His journey from a self-serving scumbag to a conscientious newshound is convincingly achieved by the young actor. This is his best performance to date, and one that puts him ahead of all competition.

2. Jayasurya in Sunny: Jayasurya’s spectacular performance holds this one-man show together. He is so inured in the character’s dark desperate suicidal world (at one point, Sunny actually puts a piece of broken glass to his wrist, at another point he is about to jump off from the balcony of his fourth-floor hotel suite) that we become unconditionally invested in his desolation for a little more than 90 minutes. Not that Sunny is likeable or even remotely heroic. But his anguish is a throbbing entity, impossible to ignore.

3. Pawan Malhotra In Tabbar: Set in the curiously vivacious bustle of Jalandhar it has the extraordinary Pawan Malhotra as Omkar, a petty entrepreneur and patriarch with a wife and two sons. One night, their lives go horribly wrong and thus begins a distressing horrific downward spiral that can only go one way. Malhotra’s character makes it to the grade of a gender-reversed Mother India. Pawan Malhotra and Supriya Pathak bring nuances to their stereotypical roles (strong obdurate father, frail devoted mother) that are hard to pinpoint.

Bollywood Baatein: 10 best performances of 2021 on OTT

4. Kriti Sanon in Mimi: Kriti Sanon, in a role written to make her shine, plays an ambitious Rajasthani dancer who wants to be a Bollywood star, and has Ranveer Singh’s poster in her room. The film has some interesting ideas on parenthood and the woman’s right to her womb. But the treatment gets progressively guillotined by excessive melodrama. However, Kriti’s feisty performance holds interest till the end.

5. Mita Vashisht In Your Honour 2: That’s what two brilliant actors can do to you. Every time Jimmy Sheirgill and Mita Vashisht are on screen together, you want to see just where their conversation is going. The words they speak seductively encircle their cat-and-mouse game in this energetic engrossing and altogether gripping tale of empowerment privilege and their misuse. Vashisht’s sly cop act furnishes a vinegary flavour to her conversations with the Judge in the dock.

6. Vijay Sethupathi in Nava Rasa (Netflix): They say 'save the last for the best'. But in this eclectic uneven omnibus of nine stories based on the nine basic human emotions, the best is the first story, Edhir, based on the emotion of pity (Karuna). It features two powerhouse performances by Vijay Sethupathi and Revathy as the murderer and his victim’s wife respectively. Sethupathi is a force of nature. With one twitch of his eyebrow, he can convey an ocean of conflicting emotions.

7. Fahadh Fasil in Jijo: In film after film, Fahadh proves himself a fearless peerless seamless actor who merges into his characters like water in a stream. And look at where Fahadh has arrived in Joji! Shakespeare’s Macbeth gets the treatment which I am sure would make Shakespeare himself envious. Fahadh’s Jijo is an unlikely villain and hence all the more devastating. He is also an unlikely Shakespearean hero who has in all probability never heard of Shakespeare.

8. Huma Qureshi In Maharani: Huma Qureshi’s transformation from Leila in Deepa Mehta’s Leila searching for her lost daughter, to Rani the politician’s wife who searches for her own identity, is admirable. Here Huma creates a woman who is at once street-wise and parliament-foolish but possesses the moral wherewithal to tell right from wrong. Qureshi makes sure she elevates her character into some kind of a feminist firebrand without rendering Rani unbelievably noble.

9. Siddharth Malhotra In Shershaah: Sidharth Malhotra plays real-life soldier Vikram Batra with a sincerity and honesty that shine through in every frame. In every frame he is Rajesh Khanna in Anand and Aradhana. You know he is going to be missed sorely once he’s gone. Malhotra plays Batra as unforgettable. Boyish, helpful, sincere and endearing. There is not a duplicitous bone in this soldier and lover-boy.

10. Vicky Kaushal in Sardar Udham: Kaushal can tell his children he got married to their mother during the same year that he gave his career’s best performance. Vicky Kaushal’s Udham Singh it is a performance laced with grace, tinged with bitterness and defined by a dormant rage. When Kaushal says something as innocently pacifying as “Mere bahot saare British friends hain” he sounds as fringe-friendly as those fake liberals who say, “I’ve nothing against the gay community. In fact, some of my best friends are gay.”

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