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Tuesday, 31 January 2017

HIndie Awards 2017: Best Ensemble Cast

Best Ensemble Cast 

in a Motion Picture

Sometimes it takes more than a great individual performance to make a great film, it takes a slew of good performances to do so as well.

It takes those shining lead super stars,

Their able and strong supporting cast,

And the numerous surprisingly effective small actors and roles.

Above all else, it takes a casting director to find and mould the right talents for the right script.

There were many well cast films this year that didn't necessarily rely on star power but a collective of in tune and highly motivated actors, among those that missed the main cut are;

Dhanak-Feature two solid performances from its young leads, Dhanak was ably made the better by the number of quirky characters Chotu and Pari meet through their uplifting journey with a plethora of well knows players leaving their mark from the always dependable Vipin Sharma to the surprising Raghuram of Roadies.

Parched-Though very much focused on its three leads, the men around them were an equal thrill to watch as actors in surprising roles provided a profound outlook on the multi faceted view of men in a patriarchal society. Particular stand out being Adil Hussain as a hunky mysterious cave dwelling saint.

Dear Zindagi-The focus on its two stars might make people forget that the low key supporting cast was an absolute delight on screen, especially Alia Bhatt's group of friends and string of lovers made famous by fun cameos.

Phobia-This might be an unexpected one considering that Phobia has Radhika Apte in a towering performance that whisky away the whole film, but she had a cast of three to four smart actors ably hitting the right notes and strides towards a crazy conclusion specifically former HIndie Award nominee Satyadeep Mishra in a genre shifting role.

And now onto the nominees...

Panchami Ghavri for Kapoor and Sons

Featuring a compelling cast and mix of terrific veteran actors and exciting young stars, Kapoor and Sons already has three single nominees to bolster its ranks.

At the forefront is the dual and duelling roles of mother and son as portrayed by Ratna Pathak Shah and Fawad Khan, the two probably have the most genuinely endearing relationship in the dysfunctional family and when two secrets threaten its existence these actors pull out everything to give the film its greatest emotional heft.

Had the Mother's betrayal arc not been so short changed, the same could have been said of the other relationship. Ratna Pathak Shah holds her end of the bargain with a fine performance and while Siddharth Malhotra as literally and figuratively the second son, has a lot of chinks in his armour; this is still his finest performance to date and it holds true in most of the lighter moments of the film especially the dalliances with Bhatt and comedic chemistry with Rishi Kapoor and Fawad Khan.

Speaking of Bhatt, Alia proves once more that even with the shortest and easiest of roles she has a performance heft, her one emotional breakdown scene proves that she has mastered the craft of drama and holding the audience.

Her chemistry with Malhotra is sweet but it is along with Fawad Khan where they shine in creating some unbelievable sparks that have no connection due to the character's different needs.

Rishi Kapoor as the naughty grandpa is a much needed dose of humour and while Rajat Kapoor is given the short end of the stick, he is an able support to Shah's character by being the ultimate foil.

Smaller roles are filled easily, yet it is the main family and one [Alia Bhatt] that reign supreme amidst the chaos.

The best thing to come out of Kapoor and Sons ensemble is a reminder that if Malhotra can overcome the fact that he is so obviously conscious in front of the camera and choose films that don't necessarily rely on him all the time, he can create a niche space for himself in films today.

Mukesh Chhabra for Dangal

With Dangal, Chhabra proves truly that he is the king of casting in the current landscape of Hindi cinema. It takes an astute eye to move beyond the working roles of leads to discover the right kind of talent and cultivating them into diamonds in the rough.

Dangal's greatest strength apart from its script elevating lead, are the four fresh faced performers that make it happen.

As the young lot of the four; in Suhani Bhatnagar and Zaira Wasim, Dangal finds the anchors for the rip rollicking first half of the film. The two young girls absolutely steal the show with performances that hit the right comic timing, add a layer of subdued drama in a mixed misguided message and show resolve in sequences normally they would not need to pull off.

The elder two are equally adapt in their surrounding inspite of the fact that Sanya Malhotra gets a shortchanged role, yet manages to match the melodramatic overtones and as well as Breakout star of the year Fatima, who takes to the action in the mat with authenticity.

Equal measure of praise must go to Aamir Khan's dedication if not performance in this role.

As for the peripheral actors; while the script does no favours to Kulkarni, he still manages as best as he can do. Aparshakti Khurrana is a delight as the older Omkar, while his younger version stands toe to toe with the girls; Ritwik Sahore giving us the best deadpan looks of this decade [take that Aubrey Plaza!]. The hidden strength of the film being a well worked short role by Sakshi Tanwar.

Nobody can match Mukesh Chhabra in the Dangal [wrestling competition] of casting films.

Honey Trehan for Udta Punjab

Udta Punjab's marketing might make you believe that the films USP are its four leads, that would be a mistake.

Not to take anything away from the four performances. After all Diljit Dosanjh is a delight to watch in his nuanced take of Sartaj Singh, despite a terrible character Kareena Kapoor reminds us why she is such a gifted actor, Shahid Kapoor sinks deep into the role of Tommy Singh though with some mishaps while Alia Bhatt is the anchor of the film with a powerful showy turn.

Yet equal praise must fall on the supporting cast. As the scattered and somewhat naive cousin in awe of Tommy Singh, Suhail Nayyar gives a low key breakthrough for the ages. The kind of performance that will feature on many end of the year most underrated lists and will hopefully propel him to bigger meatier parts.

Equally efficient is Satish Kaushik in a scene stealing part comedic and part dramatic turn as Tommy's caring and stern uncle.

Another shining star is the fourth lead of his own arc; Prabhjyot Singh as Sartaj's drug addled younger brother Bali who effectively portrays the haunting degradation of the Punjab youth. He shoulders the harsh message of the film, rounding out a stellar cast.

Jogi for Pink

They might not give the kind of powerpacked solo performances as required, but the cast of Pink fits well into the confines of the narrative of their film.

Reviving his role of the Angry Young Man, in the form of the Angry Crusading Octogenarian, Pink isn't Amitabh sirs finest this year but definitely a showcase for his histrionics and his unmatched orator skills.

The film however belongs to its three girls, Kirti Kulhari is a particular standout as the breaking Falak especially once put to stand with a great peeling of her layers as push comes to shove. Taapsee Pannu proves her mettle as a performer in a role that demands the most of her and is shouldered by her, in what is effectively a star making turn. Thank god for smart casting as a North Easterner is allowed to play a North Easterner, giving the prejudice and isolation a fitting representation with Andrea Tariang.

Angad Bedi revives his career with a snarky turn as the leader of the accusing accused, he might get typecast in his career thanks to a role that allows him to play to his physical and emotional advantages specifically his aggression as an actor. Piyush Mishra though not as effective as usual, is apt in a smarmy role that never lets off.

The standout though among the collective of small cast roles is Vijay Verma, the only man of the collective group of guys who was never at the incident; Verma perfectly embodies the idea of the entitled male whose supposed standing allows him vicious privileges against weaker people, though they are not there. Verma makes you hate him and is an absolute beast of a performer in a short role.

The signs of great casting are when the smaller roles tend to overshadow the leads [cast by everyone above the casting director] and showcase that a job is best done by the person who specializes in it, thanks to their keen eye for character. This is one such case.

Mukhesh Chhabra for Raman Raghav 2.0

Two nominations prove what I've been saying all along; Chhabra is the king of casting.

In Raman Raghav 2.0 he teams up with regular Anurag Kashyap, allowing for the crazies to come crawling out of the woodwork with this psycho thriller.

Beginning at the top are two outmatching performance of the ever dependable Nawazzudin Siddiqui and the stalwart young Vicky Kaushal, while Siddiqui is much better as the creepy Ramana kudos to Kaushal for matching up as best as he can as the disintegrating Raghavan.

Beyond the leads, Amruta Subhash is the light at the end of the tunnel with a show stealing performance despite how subdued and low key she is in front of the storm that is Siddiqui. The third lead might find acting a difficulty but Shobhita shows that she has a spark in her.

Small cameos by Vipin Sharma and Chhabra himself are the icing on the cake.

Raman Raghav 2.0 above all else proves why casting and a casting director are important, to find each and every piece of the puzzle no matter how small to fit perfectly and sink into the background and foreground of the film with such ease that the world within comes to life and the cast named or unnamed does just that.

And the Winner is...

Honey Trehan for Udta Punjab!!!

Mukhesh Chhabra is the king of casting...well not today, while he truly is on this day it was a red herring for a cast that is not only brought together with intrigue but also worked well. 

Up Next; The most fun part begins, the acting awards...all 8 supporting or leading, ranked from not the best to the absolute best

'Nuff Said, 

Aneesh Raikundalia

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