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- Sushant Singh Rajput in Dhoni The Untold Story: It is not easy to cast a shadow of brilliance over a mediocre film, and lets face it, this was no extraordinary film , too eager to win fans among Dhoni’s fans, too servile to the icon to be exploratory, let alone challenging or probing. Sushant rose above the script to deliver a rousing performance that replicated Dhoni’s demeanour and personality without mimicking the man. Even on the playing field we saw Sushant transform into Dhoni.An achievement worthy of fulsome applause.
- Manoj Bajpai in Aligarh: To play a gay man without making him effeminate or weak just for effect and impact, is not an easy task . Homosexuality in our cinema is still in its infancy. Here was a performance that was mature evolved and unpredictable. To make the monotony of an absolutely isolated individual so poignant takes some doing. Bajpai achieved a rare synthesis of empathy and intrigue in his performance.Words fail to convey his achievement in Hansal Mehta’s delicately drawn film on a subject that required the actor and the director to walk on glass.
- Swara Bhaskara in Nil Battey Sannata: The feisty mother unlettered and yet smart, untutored but determined to educate her daughter was as inspirational as Mahavir Phogat in Dangal. Swara played the character with equal measures of innocence and guile, imparting to the uneducated character a kind of elementary wisdom that must have required a great deal of unlearning on the actress’ part. Swara is in great spirits here.So what if she isn’t as weighty as Aamir in Dangal?
- Akshay Kumar in Airlift: It is relatively easier to make an impact in a role that requires you to beef up and/or use prosthetics. To remain The Star and yet transform into a character is not that easy. This is the alchemy Akshay achieved in Airlift as he lifted his character Ranjit Katyal from the morass of selfinterest to the edifying heights of a man who saves the lives of thousands of Indians trapped in a political crisis in a foreign land. Akshay loves playing noble characters. Here he conferred an extra dimension of humanism on his character.
- Sonam Kapoor in Neerja: She stripped away her image of the fashion diva to play a character who in one uniform throughout the film, saves lives of besieged passengers and sacrifices her own.As the real-life Neerja Bhanot ,Sonam was a revelation. She expressed the highest echelons of dramatic eruption without exteriorizing her pain. While her character remained in control of her emotions during the crisis on board the hijacked plane Sonam had to find a way to amplify Neerja’s emotions without exaggeration or distortion.She achieved a muted expression of mid-air crisis . How did she do it????!!!!
- Radhika Apte in Parched: This astonishing and joyous bundle of talent was in super form in two films of 2016, namely Phobia and Parched. I’d go along with Parched as Apte’s moment of glory.As a rural Rajasthani woman tyrannized tormented and taunted by a patriarchal way of sustenance, Radhika’s character laughed in the face of adversity. Har fiqr ko dhuen mein udata chala gaya. That was Radhika’s Lajjo in Parched.Invincible even when pummeled to a state of nothingness. Unforgettable.