The female hero took over the digital domain in 2021. She was seen bolstering show after show during the year. Here’s saluting the women who made a difference
- Kajol in Tribhanga: Kajol is no stranger to the centerstage. In Tribhanga directed by debutant Renuka Shahane , she killed it as an estranged daughter trying to connect with her daughter. While Tanve Azmi and Mithila Palkar provided able support from both ends Kajol took to the author-backed role like fish to water. She was angry and bitter and sarcastic and funny. In effect, the quintessential Kajol.
- Samantha Ruth Prabhu in The Family Man 2: Samantha’s digital debut was a smash hit. During this season of the hit franchise the action moves to Chennai where Rajalaxmi, a.k.a Raji and her rebel friends are planning a massive attack. The most gripping sequences in the entire narrative spectrum recur each time Samantha’s Raji is on screen. She is ominous in her silences. You know when she erupts there will be pay hell to pay.The story of her stint as a fearless soldier in Sri Lanka and a cowering sexually harassed civilian in Chennai and …well , whatever happen as the plot explodes into a show of strength between Srikant and his team’s Task Force and the rebels, has a life of its own. I would love to see a feature film based on Raji’s character. Samantha appears as Tamil rebel affiliated to a terror organization. It is a welcome change of pace for the actress known to play sweet cute characters in her native tongue Telugu. Samantha takes the plunge from her mother tongue to a murder tongue in Tamil with a feral force. She was the USP of the second season.
- Taapsee Pannu in Haseen Dillruba & Rashmi Rocket: Taapsee who has now attained the reputation of being a force to reckon with scored a double whammy in 2021. Rashmi Rocket is again Taapsee’s drama , and she embraces it with a confident hug, manly shoulder and all. Her expressions of Rashmi’s humiliation and defiance are so faithful as to lift the drama notches above the routine.When it comes to selecting roles, Taapsee is clearly proving to be the Aamir Khan among actresses.In Haseen Dillruba Taapsee delivers yet another titillating tongue-and-taang-in-cheek performance, rendering Rani a slut hard to slot. Taapsee’ s Rani seems to be a fan of one such pulp writer named Dinesh Pandit.Is he modeled on Gulshan Nanda? She is a travesty, a non-conformist wife and a middle-finger daughter-in-law who seems to have bumped off her angelic(read: boring) husband (Vikrant Massey) for a roaring affair with the town’s stud(Harshvardhan Rane). Haseen Dillruba was a film Taapsee had a very strong gut feeling about . Unfortunately she wasn’t the first choice for the film and it came to her after all their options were exhausted.
- Sushmita Sen Aarya 2: Sen’s Aarya Sareen is at once Diva and Don.Macho and Feminine. She is fire and ice without making a song and dance of the fusion process.It’s hard to imagine what Ram Madhvani’s series would have been without his leading lady.Sushmita anchors the violent heart of the plot with a bedrock of macho muliebrity.If Aarya’s family is her weakness, her children are also her strength. She nurtures the mother within her with her sweat and blood. It’s a performance steeped in a history of fiercely protective motherhood from Nargis in Mother India to Sridevi in Mom. Madhavani who is master of dramatic crisis, uses Sushmita Sen’s powerhouse presence to fuel the kind of agile angry emotions that show her character as a woman in charge without masculinizing her character.
- Raveena Tandon in Anarya: Raveena in her OTT debut is impressively transformed . Her scrubbed face, suspicious eyes and tense alert body-language constantly convey that Kasturi Dogra knows more than she is willing to divulge. Tandon’s effort to be a good mother and a good wife(the latter includes buying sexy lingerie ,a desperate move that prompts a sarcastic comment from her husband on “supermom, masterchef and Sunny Leone”) while being a conscientious cop , are well conveyed .
- Shabana Azmi in The Empire: While the debutant director Mitakshara Kumar’s Empire Strikes Blank, the one redeeming (f)actor is the great Shabana Azmi.Since this is Babur’s story, the plot needed an actor with an imposing implosive presence. I am afraid flaring nostrils just won’t do. Kunal Kapoor comes across as weak and not only because history often caught him on the wrong foot. His troubled relationship with his grandmother Aisan Daulat Beghum is fuelled by Shabana Azmi’s stately presence. She is not only shown as the power behind the throne but as a ferociously formidable presence on screen.The Empire proved the one truism about great actors. Shabana shines even when the skyline dims.