Sharma’s breathe-in-breathe-out histrionics in NH10, Bachchan Saab’s bravura turn as a constantly constipated Bengali in Piku, Tabu’s stern-and-persuasive cop act in Drishyam
got a massive amount of attention. But what about the unsung performances, the ones that got away for being too delicate, subtle or underplayed?
1. Shefali Shah in Dil Dhadkane Do: As a pompous businessman’s trophy wife who eats to feel better and scoffs to get even, Shefali was bang-on. Not a single false note. From the way
she taunted her husband’s flamboyance to her self-pitying breakdown in front of the mirror Shefali alchemized her potentially over-the-top performance into something far more substantial, and, most
important of all, she balanced out Anil Kapoor‘s husbandly hysterics.
2. Moushumi Chatterjee in Piku: Playing the Big B‘s happy-go-lucky sister (they had earlier played Man and Beloved in Basu Chatterjee’s Manzil) Moushumi made a livewire
comeback infusing her Bua’s role with guts and gumption .When she reminds her cantankerous brother that his constipation is all in his mind she was so…Moushumi! In other words, she made life seem
3. Sushant Singh Rajput in Detective Byomkesh Bakshi: A spectacularly successful performance in a failed film Sushant breathed life into the role of the 1940s’ detective. From the way
he wore his dhoti to the way he ran across the streets of Kolkata in pursuit of his assailants, this was an actor at the acme of power. Dhoti dancing at its best. Rocking!
4. Adil Hussain in Main Aur Charles: Brilliant actors don’t have to flaunt their capabilities. Chupke se, Adil Husain gave a center to a film helmed by Randeep Hooda’s over-studied
performance as Charles Sobhraj. Adil was ‘Main’ and his performance as the Delhi cop in search of the international fugitive was a tour de force.
5. Kalki Koechlin in Margarita With A Straw: As a girl struggling with physical and emotional handicaps, but determined to do all the normal things, like view porn, have sex and yes,
drink a margarita albeit with a straw, Kalki gave a brave and brilliant performance deserving of every honour in the country. Cerebral palsy was done so realistically only by Daniel Day Lewis in
My Left Foot.
6. Neeraj Kabi in Talvar: In a film that got unanimous praise Neeraj Kabi playing the father of the slain daughter generated no extra sympathy for himself by sobbing into the camera.
He was calm on the surface, the unfathomable grief of the bereaved father playing out in scenes that were the opposite of melodrama. We need to see more of this actor. Much more.
7. Tillotama Shome in Nayantara’s Necklace: This criminally under-utilized actress was outstanding in two 2015 films. In Anoop Singh’s Qissa she had to play a daughter pushed
inter gender reversal by her tyrannical father. But it was this short film directed by the very talented Jaydeep Sarkar released on the internet that caught my attention. Tillotama was cast
opposite Konkona Sen Sharma as a middleclass housewife with dreams of a socialite’s life. Shome shone in the 10-minute film. It’s not the size. It’s how you use the screen space.
8. Irrfan Khan in Qissa: In 2015 Irrfan dazzled in Piku, Talvar and even the voiceover he did in Bajirao Mastani added an alluring layer to the film. But it was in
Qissa that he gave his best. As a Sikh man whose yearning for a male heir destroys his family Irrfan gave a performance that most actors would not even begin to imagine. He fills the screen
with unspoken images and thoughts that hover beyond the visuals.
9. Tisca Chopra in Rahasya: Here is an actress who never fails to open a window to her character’s soul. Playing a bereaved mother of a slain daughter Tisca was in control of her
emotions all through. She was so implosive in her suppressed anger that the screen threatened to burst open.
10. Naman Jain in Hawaizaada: All eyes were glued on that other child actor Rushaali in Bajrangi Bhaijaan. But Naman, the little scene stealer in debutant director Vibhu Puri’s
Hawaizaada is the star of tomorrow.