- Abhishek Chauhan In Mast Mein Rehne Ka: Not having seen this young actor’s work at all in the past, I was completely bowled over by Chauhan in Vijay Maurya’s charming slice-of-life drama .Chauhan’s Alice-in-wonderland actor could have easily toppled over in the realm of overstatement(read: hamming). But Chauhan reins it in. He reminded me of Raj Kapoor in Awara.
- Sidhant Gupta in Jubilee: What a delightful ebullient performance this struggler of our times gave as a struggler in Filmistan during the turbulent times when the country was divided into two. Just like cinema today, divided between the big screen and the OTT. A warning: don’t underestimate the power of the underdog.
- Shahana Goswami in Zwigato: Applause Entertainment and Nandita Das’s seriously underrated film about a food-delivery boy during Covid, had Shahana Goswami delivering a knockout performance as the supportive resourceful wife of her suddenly-jobless husband. Is there anything Shahana can’t do?
- Amruta Subhash in Lust Stories: Speaking of the power of the OTT, here was Konkona Sen Sharma’s half-hour short story in an uneven anthology where Amruta Subhash stood out as a househelp who uses her employer’s posh bedroom for some us-time with her husband. Oh, the way Amruta stood her ground, hand on hips, retort on lips…oof, take a bow,lady.
- Saiyami Kher in Ghoomer: As a cricketer who loses a limb in a car accident, Saiyami not only plays a seriously disabled cricketer, she also makes sure that the audience spares no sympathy for her character, only admiration. Will Filmistan recognize real talent and stop mollycoddling the Ananyas and the other scar-kids?
- Alaya F In Almost Love With DJ Mohabbat: Both AlayaF and debutant Karan Mehta nail their parts, she more so than he. Alaya in two key sequences is a revelation. She performs better in the London episodes where she must play Ayesha a lonely spoilt rich brat and an embarrassingly clingy love-smitten creature to a self-absorbed musician .In one of the film’s most beautifully conceived sequences Ayesha tells the introverted Harmeet why she cannot help being his little lamb, why she goes all mushy when she looks at him.It’s a memorable monologue brilliantly performed by Alaya . She is most certainly a better actor than her grandfather Kabir Bedi and her mother Pooja Bedi.
7.K K Menon In Love All: This small underated film has a certain dignity and poise in the storytelling. A lot of these qualities emerge from Kay Kay Menon’s central performance as Siddharth Sharma, a former badminton champ whose career was cut short by politics in sports(yeah yeah, that bane of all sportsmanship) and now Siddharth won’t let his son Aaditya(a fabulously dedicated performance by Ark Jain) anywhere near the sportsfield.Siddharth’s transformation from unreasonable dad to a flexible sporting mentor would have seemed abrupt and manufactured were it not for Kay Kay Menon who makes Siddharth’s transformative travel tenable. From the opening credits when we see him sitting quietly in a taxi with his family as they arrive in Bhopal, Kay Kay’s eyes brim with untold pain.