Dev Patel walked into the second phase of his career with last year’s grossly underrated Srivasasa Ramanujan bio-pic The Man Who Knew Infinity.
I guess the Golden Globes got the maths wrong. They should’ve honoured Dev’s incredibly unassuming performance as the mathematical genius. He was way superior as the reel-life Ramanujan than as Saroo Brierley the adoptive son of an Australian couple who sets out to find his biological parents in India.
The part is partly manipulative, partly melancholic, an excursive extension of Dev’sSlumdog Millionaire and basically characterized by the same problem that Dev Patel faced in his debut film: the child actor Sunny Pawar who plays Saroo Brierley as a child is far more spontaneous unrehearsed and impact-ful than Dev Patel who takes over the role-baton mid-way through the film.
By then, little Pawar has already lodged himself in audiences’ subconscious as the soul of Saroo.We are looking for little Pawar’s parents in the slums. Dev Patel becomes just the carrier , a gloriously engaging carrier no doubt, of hope .His timing is wrong.
Just like Tanay Chedha who played the childhood Jamal Malik in Slumdog Millionairebefore Dev entered the picture…Just like the little scene stealer Ayesha Kapoor in Blackwho gave Rani Mukherjee a run for her money. Or nearer in time,isn’t tikhi mirchi ZairaWasim every bit as fiery as Fatima Sana Sheikh who plays the grown-up Geeta Phogat in Dangal?
In fact I would say 2016 belonged to the juvenile performers Neel Sethi in The Jungle Book, Sunny Pawar in Lion, Zaira Wasim in Dangal.
And Dev Patel had better come to terms with being upstaged. Besides, he lost to an extremely worthy contender.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson in Nocturnal Animals is red-hot evil. He car-jacks the hero, his wife and daughter , rapes and kills the two women and then moves on in life as though it was all a part of normal workaday. He is frighteningly authentic because he looks like a regular Joe who could easily mingle among the crowd of molesters in Bangaluru.
Crime is no no longer an act that stands out. It is so integral to our social fabric that we cannot see it coming. This is the truth that Aaron’s performance depicts with such terrifying lack of drama or apology.