{Of all lies, art is the least untrue - Flaubert}

Monday, December 31, 2007

Year End Post # 4 : Some Underrated Performances!

Here is some of my picks of the undervalued performances of the year.

Ranvir Shorey: Last year, the truly moving scene came from a comedy, Khosla ka Ghosla, it comes when Khosla sa'ab is put behind bars and Ranvir Shorey's 'Bunty' Khosla weeps saying "yeh sab meri galti hai", and asks his younger brother to go to US, away from all this trouble. Aaja Nachle has no good scenes but one, which comes from Shourie. Its a dialogue less scene where Ranvir Shorey's Mohan Sharma weeps (with a big red heart in background) when he learns that his bride has ran away from marriage. What Shorey does in that scene is to elevate Mohan from a poor guy to a poor guy in love. Similarly, he plays a just-married Gujju with required sensitivity, in Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd whose wife runs off during honeymoon. In No Smoking, Ranvir Shorey's squint eyed Abbas is also a performance to watch for. Here again, his performance brings two aspects to Abbas - the unwilling cunningness required for survival and how people yield to it, and the frustration and helplessness of being in a situation beyond ones control. Also it is to director's credit that Abbas doesn’t just become a background character serving the main plot but a valuable addition to it.

Lara Dutta: I know I have soft corner for Lara Dutta and what ever she does, and I think she is a very good actress in mainstream Bollywood (In the star studded "Dewaanagi Dewaanagi" song from Om Shanti Om, she was only next to Tabu). In Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, she plays a French Hotel Manager and British-Indian Prostitute with the same verve and energy. Her performance surely adds to the guilty pleasure of the film.

Amisha Patel: It looks like Amisha Patel was born to play this. Although the character Pinky in Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd, is of a dumb girl who has this romanticized view of marriage and love but she plays it so naturally and uniformly that her dumbness does not irritate, but becomes a part of her charm.

Sonya Jehan: Playing Ratanbala in Khoya Khoya Chand, a Bollywood star of 50s, was all about screen presence, few precise gestures and good diction, and Sonya Jehan gets it all correct. In a year when everybody is singing praises of Deepika Padukone (and to a extend she deserves it), Sonya Jehan's classic act went unnoticed.

Ayesha Takia: Like Amisha Patel's, Ayesha Takia's casting as the dumb and big bosomed secretary of John Abraham in No Smoking is a wonder of casting and concept. But her dumbness is not her natural trait, but a made up thing, may be to please her boss, or it is an image that her boss want her to be like. To her credit, she does not miss a single step. Every move is a delicious treat in itself and a wonderful parody of all the fantasy secretaries of the world.

Tisca Chopra: Tisca Chopra's Maya Awasthi (Ishaan's mother in Taare Zameen Par) is one of most heartfelt performances of the year. Her portrayal of Ishaan's mother has care for the child, worrying about the child and attachment to the child - the things inherent in mothers, alongside a feeling that she is not able to understand her son. Tisca Chopra's performance never cries for attention. There was a scene where she watches video tapes of Ishaan from his childhood, I just hope that segment was constructed as a series of memories she had of him. I am sure that would have been more powerful than the taped ones.

Mithun Chakraborty: Mithun Chakraborty’s performance as an idealistic communist in Guru is one of the few times in Hindi films when a Bengali or an oldman or a communist are not stereotyped. It brings back the memories of some of his better performances, especially the marvellous Shibnath from Tahader Katha.

Pankaj Kapur: It can't be said that Pankaj Kapur’s performance is undervalued per se, but it is surely undervalued in comparison to what people say about Abhishek's performance in Guru or Shahrukh Khan in Chak de India (for note, SRK is better than Abhishek, and Abhisek is much better in Jhoom Barabar Jhoom than Guru). At a time when we see simplistic performances in so called adult films, Pankaj Kapur gives a multi-layered and deeply-felt performance in a so called children’s film. The last scene where he tries to dance in a marriage procession is again an example of art, i.e. beauty plus pity.


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Anonymous said...

pankaj kapur clicked beautifully in the film 'Blue Umbrella'...but I liked director's role more than him. Anurag Kashyap must be given due credit for pulling off a thoughtfully directed film.
Did you find a correlation of season-cycle with pankaj kapur's life, or was it only I who saw it? Pankaj kapur's life goes a full circle with the season sequence shown in the film. Did you notice that?
-- rishi

anurag said...

raggy, thanks for visiting.

Rishi, thats interesting, I didn't notice that. Need to see the film again.

Also, did you mean Vishal Bharadwaj, when you wrote Anurag Kashyap. or were you talking about No Smoking :)

Anonymous said...

oops!! my mistake.
It's Vishal Bharadwaj ;)...I think Makdee is also his work.

The season relation with life may be my own extrapolation of the film rather than being intentional from the director. But, I find this and some other subtleties e.g. the joy of the village children when one among them owns a 'rich' umbrella , the amusement on the villager's faces etc. Its these small things that make a movie delightful. Key is not to stretch it to an extent where it becomes redundent and hence boring.

-- rishi

The sleepy activist said...

ur so right abt pankaj kapur - aby baby and srk... in the indian movie scene a crappy actor is given more credit for doing a serious role moderately well than a seriously good actor is for doing something that apparently comes easily to him... I am not sure what this mentality indicates... does success breed success or failure breed popularity?