We continue with our journey of movies roundup of 2017. Today, we will look at the hits and misses of the most memorable performances by female actors in supporting roles and special categories amongst what I watched this year. Do note that this is not influenced by box office performances and strictly on what appealed to me and what did not.
#DebutOfTheYear – Aditi Inamdar as Poorna Malavath in Poorna – 13 year old Aditi along S Maria (as Priya, another fresh face playing Poorna’s best friend) were absolutely brilliant in this warm and hopeful real life tale of Poorna becoming the youngest climber of Mt. Everest through her determination and grit, but germinating from a need to escape an early child marriage! Yes their rough edges show, but even that is lovely. The warm and heartfelt bonding between Poorna and Priya is beautifully portrayed by these young girls. I would like to see them more in years to come..
A special shout out to the little girl Kierra Soni from Ribbon as well! At all of 5 years, she was a revelation!
#SurpriseOfTheYear – Kriti Sanon as Bitti Sharma in Bareilly Ki Barfi – Kriti was the only reason I was skeptical to watch this film even after the excellent trailer, but the girl surprised me big time in this fun roller coaster watch! Kriti was a complete natural as bindaas Bitti and sprinkled her with an unassuming charm all throughout. But when you are cast in such a strong ensemble, you just possibly have no other option but to match up to them, and she did!
2017 will be best remembered for some of the strongest supporting roles, possibly because the content rich movies did so well in terms of getting noted. There are films where the supporting characters even outplayed the lead characters by a distance. My favorite actors who were brilliant in such supporting characters are:
Seema Pahwa – She was just exceptional as the doting mother to Bitti or to Sugandha both in Bareilly Ki Barfi and Shubh Mangal Savdhan, myself loving the former a tad more than the later. Seema’s brilliance of Aankhon Dekhi came back in both the films, and she was so wonderfully endearing. A special shout out for her cute little dance to ‘Sweety tera drama’ too! You rock Seema’ji!
Konkona Sen Sharma – The film was a letdown for me, but Konkona’s Shireen Aslam in Lipstick Under My Burkha was a winner all the way! Her ambition and her frustration, her joy and her pain, Alankrita Shrivastava could not have banked on a better actor to carry out that role so convincingly!
Anjali Patil – Newton would not have been Newton without Rajkumar Rao and Pankaj Tripathi. But it needed a very strong and real Malko Netam as well. And Anjali Patil gave us just that. It was a simple, honest and upright act – things that defined Malko to the core!
Sajal Ali – Mom was a story about the horror that Sajal’s Arya goes through and what happens post that, but it was just a disappointment that the pain and suffering of Arya was relegated as a neglected backstory in the entire screenplay. Even in the limited scope and screen time that Sajal got, this lovely girl portrayed a sensitive and struggling Arya with the right finesse that the role needed.
The McCluskieGunj Family – I tried hard to pick the best actress from that ensemble to come into the list and failed. Right from the little Arya Sharma, to the beautiful Tilottama Shome, to the sensational Kalki Koechlin to the ever lovely Tanuja, they were all pitch perfect in their roles, and added so much of layered texture to the narrative, just like the men on that outing did! They are all special, just like the film is!
And while she didn’t make it to my list of the best supporting characters of the year, Meher Vij gets a special mention for Secret Superstar. I was not fully bought in to the writing of the mother daughter relationship in the film and found it rather emotionally manipulative, but Meher did a good job with what she got. She was miles away from Swara’s Chanda of Nil Battey Sannata, but she had the potential to give a better written role a better shape, that she did not get.
So those were my thoughts on the best supporting roles and special recognition for the year. In the continuing next part of this series, we will take a look at the lead characters diving deep into what clicked there and what did not!
We continue from the last post and revisit the best performances and the biggest disappointments from female actors in leading roles from the year going by. I do recognize that I might have missed one of the outstanding performances of the year from Sushama Deshpande as Ajji based on all the critical acclaim it got, so I will have to talk about performances based on what I experienced. I have to also say this that in 2017, I was left quite disappointed with a number of lead performances and we will recount them here – they may not be very bad in absolute terms, but these are more about performances where much more was expected and I struggled having those expectations met on the screen.
We will talk about the good things first, and recall the top performances of the year:
1. Swara Bhasker – This #AnarkaliOfArrah sizzled on screen with a complete top notch act portraying a small town dance artist, one who performs on the stage to raunchy double meaning songs, and yet is strong and bold enough to ensure that irrespective of her profession, she cannot be forced to anything against her wishes. The film takes forward the strong message of No Means No from Pink in a more earthier, rustic setting and the makers could not have gotten a better actress than Swara to portray that journey with Elan. She captures the dreams, the passion, the vulnerability and the struggle of Anarkali with unabashed passion, just what the role needed, and with an extremely strong supporting cast drives home the point like a rockstar! For me, hers is The Performance of the Year for 2017 in this category.
2. Ratna Pathak Shah – Ratna Pathak Shah is a natural charmer. She aces almost everything she touches, and was not an exception as the lovable Usha Parmar (embodying Rosy) who was the heart and soul of an otherwise underwhelming #LipstickUnderMyBurkha from Alankrita Srivastava. Shah’s terrific acting prowess ensures that Bua’ji (as she is called by everyone in the film) becomes a distinctly adorable character not seen on Indian screen before, and she delivers it with all the sensitivity and grace, showing a face of pain and solitude completely ignored otherwise on Indian screen.
3. Parvathy – This was the first film I saw of the immensely natural Parvathy and she knocked #QaribQaribSinglle’s Jaya out of the park completely! It is not easy to match up to the understated subtlety of Irrfan Khan, and Parvathy achieves that effortlessly and even betters it in some scenes. It was not easy to portray the clumsy, reserved and ‘running away from life’ Jaya who rediscovers herself and her need to feel happy through the journey she embarks on, but Parvathy gets it right for the most part, other than one sequence where she went overboard. It was creepy to identify with someone like this on screen, which shows how perfect she got it.
4. Vidya Balan – Overall, I was underwhelmed by #TumhariSulu, but Vidya Balan as Sulu was a rockstar as usual! It can only take an extraordinary Vidya Balan to lift an otherwise predictable and at places clichéd writing to make Sulu such an endearing and lovable character on screen! She is an eternal optimist, a dreamer who wants to live her life king size whatever may the situation be, and in the process she laughs and she cries, she fights and she makes mistakes, but she never gives up! And just because she holds on like a champion, we hold on to the film as well in spite of its inherent flaws and gaps.
5. Kalki Koechlin – Kalki has almost made it a routine to find a place in the best performances of the year even when she does selective small niche films. Her Sahana from #Ribbon is the reason she is here this year. Kalki delivers yet another nuanced and well-rounded performance as one half of the urban couple who struggle to balance out their family time, love for each other and flourishing careers. Sahana is a fully author backed character and it needed the terrific Kalki to project her effortlessly, a lot of times just through the eyes that is like a huge canvas of emotions. We need Kalki to do more films, cinema needs more of her goodness.
Other than these feisty performances, we did have Kriti Sanon as Bitti in #BareillyKiBarfi and Bhoomi Pednekar as Sugandha in #ShubhMangalSavdhan, both playing the girl next door with some enchanting freshness, and hence delivering two of the best clean rom-coms of the year. More power to these girls for making good entertaining cinema.
And now, let us also look at some of those performances that disappointed me the most this year.
1. Sridevi – It pains me the most to have one of my most favorite actresses to make it to this list. Devaki as #Mom is not a bad performance at all, in fact Sri aces it in many scenes, but it is nowhere near what Shashi was in English Vinglish as an example. The film perhaps also spoilt the experience for me, it should have had far more focus on Arya and her struggle, but it went on a screen worship mode for Sridevi! There was just too much of her, and all of that was not subtle and restrained too. She was capable of doing so much more with the film by underplaying it. Painfully disappointed, I am hopeful for a stronger return from the diva in her next film!
2. Alia Bhatt – Another favorite makes it to a not favorite list sadly! Alia is the powerhouse performer of this generation, but Vaidehi from #BadrinathKiDulhania missed the bus this time! It was a rather regressive script that exactly glorified the same points that it wanted to protest, and made Vaidehi a poorly written vehicle to do that. Alia also fumbled especially in the horrible second half, and may be that was natural because it wouldn’t have been easy for her to identify with that character at all.
3. Parineeti Chopra – #MeriPyaariBindu is one of my favorite films of the year, but not Bindu and hence Parineeti. A film that celebrates a selfless journey of Abhimanyu and her nostalgic bond with Bindu, falters in developing the character arch of Bindu well. In place of making Bindu whimsical and confused, the writers make Bindu shallow and inconsistent. And Parineeti does not have so much of shine in her that she would be able to cover up for the flawed writing of the character. She looked like a dream, and that was a problem too, because Bindu needed to feel far more real than what Parineeti made us feel. Sad!
4. Anushka Sharma – I will never understand why Anushka would have agreed to play the terribly written Sejal from #JabHarryMetSejal. There is no rhyme and reason that can explain Imtiaz Ali’s Sejal, and no actress could have saved that role. The sadness though lies in the fact that Shahrukh’s Harry needed a much better script and a much better companion in his journey of self-discovery. Anushka and Sejal did not provide him that, and hence they all fizzled away!
5. Kangana Ranaut – Hansal Mehta of Shahid or Aligarh is a master craftsman, but he was nowhere to be seen in his this year’s outing #Simran. As was the great performance missing from Kangana in yet another poorly written character of the year! Simran defied logic in the name of being different, it fell flat on basic aspects of good film making, and its depressing that such things come from the house of Kangana Ranaut and Hansal Mehta. I am hopeful that she bounces back with Manikarnika. Herself and a historical period film – both need desperate success in today’s times.
I was also not too impressed by Zaira Wasim in #SecretSuperstar in spite of all the rave reviews she got. But I was not expecting much from her, so won’t call her a disappointment as such.
We need more powerful performances in 2018 from the brilliant women of the industry, and I am hopeful that the wheels will turn for the brighter and better.
Tell me what were your favorite and not so favorite performances of the year. We all have our views, and its only fun to exchange them.