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2014: A Year in Unshowy Performances

The character tics we fell in love with this year!

From Ranveer Singh’s muscles, to Kangana Ranaut’s smile- the best Bollywood performances from 2014

Lights. Camera. Action

There are years that are dominated by a towering performance that overtakes everything else (no one came close to Salman Khan’s insouciance from Dabangg in 2010), but 2014 was more of a mixed bag. There were vaunted performances (Priyanka Chopra in Mary Kom) that left us cold; and others -like Bipasha in Creature-which were pure schlock,  and yet oddly affecting. But if there’s one thing we can be sure of, it is that we are living in the golden age of interesting performers- a slew of actors and actresses who are each creating their unique bodies of work. ( If only the directors and producers could keep up!) And that is why it wasn’t easy to select our 10 favourite performances of the year.

Here’s what we finalized upon. Tell us what we missed.

The Leads That Led by Example

Parineeti Chopra in Hasee to Phasee

It is easy to dismiss everything Parineeti does as  “brash north Indian kudi”, but she manages to find so many shades and such nuance in each of those characters. Her Gayatri from Shuddh Desi Romance is a walking wound bandaged in sass, and Zoya Qureshi from Ishaqzaade is a free spirit fighting her last rebellion in a patriarchal world.  But our favourite performance by her may just be Meetu in Hasee to Phasee- a true romantic heroine who is so much more than a collection of her tics.  At once an old soul and child-like, Meetu is so used to being a square peg in a round hole that she is as surprised as we are by how easily she fits into a relationship. Her touching confusion and strong need for connection is played out beautifully in the nicest performance of the year.

Kangana Ranaut in Queen

We love Rani and her journey of self discovery (and it tells that Kangana has written some of the dialogues for that role herself). One also can’t deny just how many girls the character struck a chord with,  but if there’s any qualm we have, then it is with the degree of difficulty. We’ve known Kangana to turn absurd creations like Krrish 3’s Kaya into a living breathing creature, and so the naivette and steel-will of Rani seems a walk in the park for her.

Sanjay Mishra in Ankhon Dekhi

Sorry PK. But everything you had to say about religion and faith and the complicated emotions they create in uncomplicated human beings was said more beautifully in Ankhon Dekhi.  And Sanjay Mishra- who we knew best as Apple Singh before this- was so familiar and comfortable in the skin of Bauji we couldn’t help be  reminded of some of our old uncles from back homes. The ones we argue the definition of modernity with- but love nonetheless- because at the end of the day they are fundamentally well meaning and decent.

Varun Dhawan in Main Tera Hero

And now presenting- the hero!

In a lovely throwback to the golden eras of “Heroes” with a capital “H”, Varun dances, fights, smirks, emotes in Main Tera Hero and through it all maintains an entirely engaging presence. We’d like to say that the movie around his kinetic Seenu was any good, but the script could barely keep pace with his shenanigans.  What we really need is a masala specialist to hand him six dance-worthy songs, a heroine who sizzles as much as he does (Sonakshi Sinha?); and a script that requires him to bring all his considerable talent to the fore.

Come to think of it, who is directing Dabangg 3?

Tabu in Haider

Was it Vishal Bharadwaj or Tabu who decided that their Hamlet will be all about Gertrude? Tabu kept us guessing about her motives throughout the movie, each gesture either touchingly uncomplicated or eerily premeditated (or at times, both). The one thing nobody doubted was that she was totally worth all the affection that the men in the film showered on her. And who can blame them? Even in that formidable ensemble, she stood far and above the rest!

The Eye Candy

Ali Fazal in Bobby Jasoos

Someone find Ali Fazal a better agent, because we are beginning to tire of his blink-and-you-miss-it performances in films. In perhaps his finest role to date, he plays Indian cinema’s rare male feminist Tasawur, a man of such deep humanity and warmth that we couldn’t wait for the otherwise-fine Vidya Balan to get out of the scene so that we could grab him for ourselves.

Fawad Khan on Khoobsurat

All you producers insisting on shirtless torsos, know this. There is no quicker way to a woman’s heart than a man who can wear his suits. Fawad Khan- we remain unsure about your talents- but are happy to have you in our multiplexes dressed in smartly tailored jackets every few months!


Scene Stealers

Lisa Haydon in Queen

What we said earlier about Queen. While Kangana did what we knew she could, Lisa Haydon blew us away with her one-of-a-kind-Vijayalakshmi. A true bohemian with a heart of gold, she is the best friend you want to knock down a couple of drinks with and discuss a broken heart!

Madhuri Dikshit in Dedh Ishqiya

The queen is back.  And gawd! We missed her!

Ranveer Singh’s muscles in Gunday

You know we love Ranveer Singh. But when will they make a movie featuring him which has half the pizzazz of his Durex Ad or his turn as Bittoo in Band Baaja Baarat? Until they do, we will keep ourselves content with his oily muscled chest which did more emoting than he had to do through the length of his two roles this year.

The stragglers

These we loved but just not enough to add to our Top 10.

Randeep Hoda- in the otherwise problematic Highway

Narendra Jha, Irrfan Khan, Kay Kay Menon- the father figures in Haider

Huma Qureshi- wise and tempestuous in Dedh Ishqiya

Alia Bhat- a Dulhaniya worth fighting for in Humpty Sharma..

Amrita Singh- the dragon mom-in-law from Hell in 2 States, and her male counterpart Rishi Kapoor in Bewakoofiyan

Who kept you glued to the screen in 2014?

Photo Credit: luciefly via Compfight cc

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