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Monday, 6 February 2017

HIndie Awards 2017: Best Actor [Female] in A Leading Role [Drama]

Best Actor [Female] in a Leading Role

Motion Picture Drama

Take the fact that last year I struggled to fill the five nomination slots in order to find commendable leading roles for women in the drama category, let alone on the other side as well.

Take the fact that this year I struggled to find the five best female leads in drama because there was such a range of great choices to choose from.

Indeed things are good and the times they are a changing.

As for the current crop of female actors on the list, they are a great mix of up and coming talents divided well between contemporary new generation stars and stalwart performers just now getting their due after years of toiling away.

It's the fresh faces that work in both cases on a bigger platform to showcase their talents.

Taking a look at these five, let us see what they have accomplished in the past three HIndie Awards;

Kalki Koechlin has 2 nominations with 0 wins

Tannishta Chatterjee has 1 nomination despite having been probably one of the most talented actors of our time, most of her films are still seeking release.

Sonam Kapoor has 1 nomination with 0 wins

Alia Bhatt has 1 prior nomination with 1 win for her stellar turn in Highway, this year she features as a lead nominee in both genre slots with a loss in the comedy/romantic/musical section coming just a few posts ago.

As for Radhika Apte this is her first Best Actor [Drama] nomination though she won the Breakthrough Female award last year. Indeed what a year can do.

Before we find out who won, let us see who didn't make the cut this year;

Anushka Sharma in Sultan-Though her character may have eventually been shortchanged with some terrible plot points, Sharma just as the underdog narrative rises above the bad to provide a stellar turn that reminds us why she is one of India's finest actors today.

Tapsee Pannu in Pink-Holding her own against the great Amitabh Bachchan, there may be moments where she slips up but Pannu proves that despite her simplistic typecasting down south; she can be a livewire performer when ably supported by the script.

Vidya Balan in Kahaani 2-I got to see this one after the list of nominees was cleared but she honestly would have not made the cut. Though she never rises above the subtly complexities presented in the original film, in the sequel she pitches the dramatics high to create a character that builds both intrigue and poignant empathy proving why that she is a champion despite how bad a script can be.

That is eight contenders for the throne, four more than I honestly had last year; what a year it has been, so onto the top five nominees...

Kalki Koechlin as Tara Deshpande for Waiting

Not many actors can claim that they stood toe to toe with the prowess of Naseeruddin Shah and lived to tell about it.

With the equally headstrong Tara as Shiv is, Kalki moulds the character into a performance that can eventually seek out the glimmer of hope even in the most dreary of circumstances. In the climactic sequence as Tara rests away all hope of her husbands survival and decides it is best he not live a life half lived, she shows a certain poise and strength that never lets Tara play victim or guilty rather a strong woman who made a choice that at least hints at being the best option.

It is the slower scenes, the mundane moments where Kalki proves why she is such a fine actor, bringing such a naturality to the role and more importantly knowing the vital need to provide space to her co-star; to not strain the film by trying too much and playing the gallery of very little so that her co-star specifically Shah may shine in the dramatics of the scene.

It takes a confident actor to know when to step in and step down from a scenes focus, the kind that is a directors dream and Kalki proves to be exactly that.

Tannishta Chatterjee as Rani for Parched

The rustic charm that Tannishta Chatterjee brings to a role is such a humorous duality to the fact that this performer easily sinks into a western role with the same ease simply because that is who she is, where as here it might stem from the fact of the texture of her looks but she proves to go above and beyond it, no matter what anyone else wishes to say.

As Rani, most might not think it but Chatterjee truly is the protagonist of the film; a silent observer and thus by default a guilty viewer of society's atrocities commited on the women around her. This is at first highlighted when she sees Sayani Gupta's tortured married woman dragged away back to her in-laws and is helpless to do nothing.

She is tender to the suffering of the barren Lajjo, to the taunts thrown around at her bar dancing friend Bijlee and she is equally guilt in committing forced marriage on her daughter in law despite her having the chance that Rani yearned for years ago.

In effect Rani embodies the very idea of woman as woman kinds worst enemy and Chatterjee brings a grounding to this demonizing role with a sincerity and pain that probably none else could understand.

One need to only Parched to understand why Tannishta Chatterjee is the hidden gem at the forefront of great roles for women in modern Hindi cinema, because she plays her roles with beautiful nuance and complexity yet never lets loose of the reigns of the films thematic core in favour of her acting. She is the embodiment of a directors actor; a pitch perfect story teller.

Sonam Kapoor as Neerja Bhanot for Neerja

One of the first things writer Saiwyn Quadris ever did when he decided to write Neerja was that he would only and that is truly only make this film if Sonam Kapoor was cast in the role of the heroic real life figure.

Though there could be a moulded slight resemblance, the question became; why Sonam, why Sonam.

After all the fashionista hadn't really showcased the ability to not only undertake such a complex and powerful role, but also do so while carrying a film on her small shoulders.

Quadris simply reiterated; you may say why Sonam, but once the film is over it will become Wow Sonam!

In what is going to definitely be known as a career defining moment, Sonam Kapoor brings out the very anxiety's and fears that any sane human being even someone as heroic as Neerja Bhanot could have felt during the tense Pan-Am hijacking. She does so with little ticks, the caution with which she makes moves against the terrorists, the moments she is confined by spaces and tragic memories and even the way she simply mows into a last piece of biscuit a loved one has sent.

The tragic innocence of Neerja carries weight because Sonam embodies that spirit with such verve its infectious, so much so that an expected yet no less profound end brings a stream of tears.

At last inspite of this innocence and this stark fear, Sonam rises to the occasion just as Neerja did to make us believe in a confidence and a heroism that was always there and needed to come forth. It is a restrained turn that for much of the runtime anchors the tension of the film against a beautiful ray of hope.

Indeed, Wow Sonam! Wow Sonam!

Alia Bhatt as "Mary Jane" for Udta Punjab

As Shahrukh Khan put it so aptly last year at a filmy talk show; Alia Bhatt is too good too soon.

What seemed like a one off with Highway has turned into a routine showcase with each performance this young girl puts out even in the most modest of scripts, with something as charged and powerful as Udta Punjab; she is on a whole other level.

Trumping her veteran co-stars Alia Bhatt gives a volcanic turn as the nameless protagonist that pretty much suffers the most in this dreary unfair morality play, taken to the extreme by the narrative; Bhatt portrays her character with an honesty and tenderness that defines the harsh realities of drug abuse and narco-political power that is rampant in Punjab today.

Many prior to the movie criticized her casting as a Bihari migrant, after all even in Highway she was still very much in her comfort zone as a well raised girl; however by the time the end credits roll, then all mouths are shut.

Udta Punjab is a showcase for the firebrand Alia Bhatt is; from her ability to deliver disintegration and frailty like the best of them to her rousing brilliance in ability to capture the finer details of her character that not even the writer would have thought off. 

What's scary above all to think, more so than King Khan's prophetic words is that; this might not even be an ounce of the best that Bhatt can deliver. If that's true we're in for one hell of an era defining career.

This student has truly flown a long way.

Radhika Apte as Mehak Deo for Phobia

For a moment silencing all the hoopla and frenzy around fine cinematic technique, a very scared and locked up agoraphobic Mehak Deo's fears are relayed with such conviction that not only does Apte make you believe she feels these fears as any good actor should, but actually creates that fear within yourself. That too in a darkened theatre full of people, in a confined box inside of a wide open air conditioned mall.

Space as in area is at the centre of Mehak's fears and constrained to the one location, Apte utilizes this very space with measured movements and calibrated steps to echo a character most likely losing her mind but transcending to something much more unbelivable.

With this twist in mind, Apte plays her character with a conventional wide eyed fear hiding a deeper anguish and pain that just cannot categorized as mad acting as the madness that others seem to think Mehak is taken over by.

The kind of layers she juggles with dexterity prove on thing; Apte is not a one shot deal, she is a performer who can sink her teeth into any type of role and make it her own with every facet or style a performer can and this is a purely brilliant example of it.

And the Winner is...

Radhika Apte as Mehak Deo for Phobia!!!

From the breakthrough award straight to best actor drama, what a year it has been for Ms. Apte

Up Next: The Big Man on Campus, A man struggling to let his wife go, An egoistic superstar and his relentless fan locked in eternal battle, a failed sportsman becoming a ruthless yet loving coach to his daughters, a manic killer on the loose seeking bloody romance from a police with the same beast within and a soft spoken professor fighting the systems ostracization of him...Best Actor Male Drama!

'Nuff Said, 

Aneesh Raikundalia

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