A great year with exceptional films and some substantial performances. When Comparing every passing year, India cinema is showing a down sloping trend in hyper melodrama and preachiness associated with performances. This was a year that completely underlined this very fact. It’s really nice to see one of the India’s finest for the last 30 years still grabbing eyeballs with his finesse skills and topping the list.
Few notable mentions
Bhagavathi Perumal: Super Deluxe
Sanjana Dipu: Moothon
Sidharth Chathurvedhi: Gully Boy
Fahad Fazil: Kumbalangi Nights
Asif Ali: Uyare
Ranveer Singh: Gully Boy
Manoj Parva: Article 15
8. Dhanush: Asuran
Vetrimaaran may have brought out the best in Dhanush as a director, but unlike their previous collaborations that showcased the actor at his natural best, Asuran presents a different scenario. The role of Sivasamy is too weighty for the audience to easily accept from Dhanush. However, instead of succumbing to this challenge, Dhanush not only skillfully portrays the external constraints associated with aging but also delves into the character’s internal struggles. His eyes, particularly noticeable in the final court scene and a masterfully directed sequence involving Chidambaram’s attack, have never been so expressive before.
7. Nimisha Sajayan: Chola
The most complex character from this whole list is played by Nimisha Sajayan – one of the finest female actors in the country at present. Nimisha plays Janaki, who’s called by his boyfriend as Jaanu. Chola tackles Janaki’s one-day-out with her scrawny boyfriend backed by his boss to the city. The incidents happens to turn horrifying when they rearrange and decide to stay in a motel for the night.
Nimisha is clearly the oppressed representative under patriarchy. She is voiceless over Aashan’s patriarchal power play. She becomes a shadow of Aashan, a mere shadow as what Chola’s tagline suggests. Janaki could have been easily gone wrong with any other actor, but Nimisha’s act is meticulous. She brings in the naivety of a school girl. Most of her screen time requires verbal effort to scream and weep.
6. Soubin Shahir: Kumbalangi Nights
Kumbalangi Nights too romanticizes the same guy in an extremely delicate and sensible manner. This is why Saji remains as the most relatable and most beautiful protagonist of recent times. How often have you seen men in cinema crying? Well, in a context like this, there would be none. Saji gives one groundbreaking and heartwarming mental health episode. He asks his younger brother to take him to a psychiatrist. Redemption of protagonists (as well) are very manipulative in our films. But Saji gets a well written, well enacted redemption arc.
Syam Pushkaran’s writing
Soubin plays a matriarchal person, a complete contrast to the films Villain (Played by Fahad Fazil). He is of the opinion that it’s men who actually needs Lady Bird (bicycle). He is sensitive and fragile, also has suicidal tendencies. Syam Pushkaran’s writing is so intricate that makes every detail counts. Soubin ices the cake and breaks many stereotypes. My favourite scene is him smiling with lucid tears after getting slapped from the Police inspector played by Dileesh Pothen, who says ‘don’t repeat this!’
6. Joju George: Chola
In Sanal Kumar Sasidharan’s chilling reiteration of The Ramayana, Joju George plays the Raavanan, only baptized as Aashan. With his beefed up body and sinister body language Joju lives through the role which looks tailor made to him. Most of his shots are silhouettes. His T-Shirt is printed with – Eat, Eat, Eat. There is some monstrosity and wicked unpredictability Joju brings in, when he checks in to the forest we don’t know what he’s into next. And when you guess, it easily goes wrong next second.
In the climax Joju takes the Chill of his to a whole together ferociously chilling level. He resonates a sinister unpredictability of aura around him. Out of the scenes in the dark, Joju’s dialogue delivery too manages to lighten up the creepiness associated with this character. This is probably the most ruthless and brutal portrayal of a villain character in Malayalam Cinema recently, only next to Mammootty’s Murikkum Kunnath Ahamad Haji in Palerimanikyam of 2009.
5. Suraj Venjaramoodu: Vikrithi
Suraj Venjaramoodu plays a mute character in Vikrithi, a film about cyberbullying. If you are conversant to deaf people, there is a certain kind of mannerism associated with them in general. I’m sure that Suraj has did this role with as much homework of scrutiny regarding this. He brilliantly manifests through these physical nuances. Suraj is deeply moving and emotionally affecting in an otherwise clumsy narrative with the kind of poignant resonance that i have got hooked from countless Mammootty performances.
4. Raasukutti: Super Deluxe
Raasukutti played by Master Ashwin in the delicious world of Super Deluxe owns most of its beautiful scenes. He does the role with so much gratuitous charm and naturality. Rasukutties Father is returning back to home after ages. So he’s excited. The segment opens with Raasukutty opening the door when the bell rings, he wants to give a surprise to his Father. But it is the milkman instead. Raasukutty is disappointed, we too feel disappointed for Raasukutty. For his awesome delivery of expressions *even* in close ups. His Father is back finally. But! He is a changed man to a trans woman; Shilpa.
The most touching scene from the film is it’s climax, when Raasukutty says ‘Nee Aambala aayirunthalum sari Penbala aayirunthalum sari, en koode irunth tholaye!’.
3. Saniya Malhotra: Photograph
The extremely gracious Saniya Malhotra as Miloni is soaked in melancholy, like a poem. She is a CA Foundation topper now preparing for CA Inter, says her Father. They selects pink over yellow. She doesn’t have a voice. There is a shot of Miloni looking into the mirror with the Yellow Salwar after the fuss is over. It’s her real self that is reflected.
2. Nivin Pauly: Moothon
Nivin Pauly, the actor who’s largely classified with the tag ‘safe zone’ does every effing thing that you’ll never ever anticipate from him. Himself as Akbar, a character who has an enigmatic two-phased timeline. In Bombay he is Bhai, a gangster smug who smokes dope all the time and forwards a child trafficking business. He is outright vigious. He says he killed him. Probably Akbar is referring to himself. The backstory he has buried deep inside. His sexuality is beautifully decorated. A mirror scene where he relives a beautiful moment with a feminine glance is the best Nivin has ever done in his whole career so far. Undoubtedly a career redefining performance.
1. Mammootty: Peranbu
Amudhavan delivers the best performance of the year, showcasing the legend’s acting prowess. Peranbu unfolds the story of an NRI father who permanently returns to India to care for his daughter. Mammootty, with remarkable voice modulations, narrates 14 different chapters of Nature and episodes from Amudhavan’s life after returning from Dubai. This year, you won’t find a more genuine character than Amudhavan, who doesn’t blame his wife for eloping and empathizes with the troubles of the girl who cheated him. Mammootty’s portrayal includes daring scenes like asking an NGO employee for a male sex worker for his daughter, showcasing his unparalleled acting commitment. Ram’s writing maintains irreverence and ignorance toward social strata, contributing to the film’s excellence.
In one of the most devastating scenes in Peranbu, Amudhvan decides to suicide with her daughter. Before we get to know this revelation, Mammootty terrifically glares into the sea. He elevates Ram’s writing in addition with giving a chilling effect.
CA Student who’s enthusiastic about films.