I have a whole lot of grudges against the kind of cinema that has been produced by Bollywood in 2021. Apart from a few good ones here and there, most of the films I watched this year from the Hindi film industry have been disappointments. Including the year's biggest blockbuster, Sooryavanshi. Yes, the pandemic meant that some of the anticipated movies were pushed to 2022, like Brahmastra and Lal Singh Chaddha, so here's hoping that 2022 would change the fortunes of Bollywood and not make it look weaker in front of regional and Hollywood in terms of quality. Year Ender 2021: From Salman Khan’s Radhe to John Abraham’s Satyameva Jayate 2, Looking at 11 Cringe Bollywood Movies of 2021 That Left Us Annoyed AF!
But while I was let down by the cinema, there have been some fantastic performances this year from Bollywood that deserve all the brownie points. In this special year-ender feature, here's our pick of 13 acting performances (both male and female) in a Bollywood movie that left us super-impressed.
Adarsh Gourav in The White Tiger
Technically speaking, this Priyanka Chopra-produced Netflix film isn't a Bollywood movie, but let's ignore that for a moment for making us discover this fantastic actor in Adarsh Gourav. He isn't new to acting - he was in Mom, and he is the lead in the series Hostel Saze. But Gourav displayed a different, an amazing kind of intensity that even floored the Hollywood critics. It is quite proud a moment to see him feature in many of the international critics' best actor lists. The White Tiger’s Adarsh Gourav: Did You Spot Priyanka Chopra’s Co-Star in These Popular Movies of Shah Rukh Khan and Sridevi?
Parineeti Chopra in Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar
Parineeti Chopra hadn't had been having a good time in the past couple of years when it comes to her movies In 2021, she had a disastrous The Girl on the Train, a decent but forgettable Saina, but the movie that left us all surprised was this delayed Dibakar Banerjee movie. Parineeti's anguished performance here reminded us why, before a slate of bad movies, she was a very promising talent, and she still holds that fire in her, that only needs a right director to channel well.
Sanya Malhotra in Pagglait
Sanya Malhotra is an incredible, underrated actress, who simply sparkles in any movie, even if it is a bad one. In 2021, she had two good performances in Pagglait and Meenakshi Sundareshwar. Pagglait makes it to this list, simply because she does stunning work in what in an author-back role. I just wish that the movie was better, but Malhotra's loveable performance as a widow not able to handle the 'grief' as per her family's expectations is simply worth the watch.
Konkona Sen Sharma in Ajeeb Daastaans
Ajeeb Daastaans would have been a forgotten anthology churned out by Netflix, if it didn't contain a stunning segment in Neeraj Ghaywan's Geeli Pucchi. Konkona is easily one of the best actresses we have in this country, and her role of Bharti Mandal, a low-caste lesbian, proves why that's so. It is easily a fantastic performance in what is the most affecting piece of cinema from Bollywood this year. Ajeeb Daastaans Review: From Nushrratt Bharuccha’s Khilauna to Konkona Sen Sharma’s Geeli Puchhi, Ranking All Stories in Karan Johar’s Netflix Anthology From Worst to Best.
Vikrant Massey in Haseen Dillruba
I have my problems with this twisted Netflix love triangle that has potential to be so much, but don't fire on all cylinders. But the performances are good, standing out of the lot is the talented Massey who is highly effective as the wronged husband who goes from meek to psychopathic. It is a very toxic turn, but the actor pulls it off with ease.
Abhishek Banerjee in Rashmi Rocket
In Rashmi Rocket, Abhishek Banerjee pulls off what Arshad Warsi did in Jolly LLB. While a dependable Taapsee Pannu does good in the lead role, have to say that Banerjee stole the show in the second half, bringing quite the mass appeal to the legal drama scenes. He was also very good in Ankahi Kahaaniyan.
Vicky Kaushal in Sardar Udham
Have a little trepeditation to say that this writer is not a huge fan of Shoojit Sircar's much-praised film. It is a well-made biopic, but I believe it holds back itself way too long before that explosive third act. But there is no denying that the movie possesses a very strong Vicky Kaushal performance. The National-Award winning actor, who had a great year personally as well getting married to Katrina Kaif, is stupendous in the role of the martyr and his pained act in the Jallianwala Bagh scenes is bound to move you to tears.
Kartik Aaryan in Dhamaka
Dhamaka is another Netflix film that, despite being made by an acclaimed filmmaker like Ram Madhvani, doesn't exactly live upto potential of its premise. But Kartik Aaryan is an absolute revelation here, working around the grey areas of his characters and effectively anchoring the whole film on his able shoulders.
Mita Vashisth in Chhorii
Chhorii is a surprisingly good enough horror movie with a message in it, made better by the performances of its two female leads. Nushrratt Bharuccha gives a career-best performance, but it is the veteran Mita Vashisth who steals the show in what is a very chilling performance, that also has nuances of a tragedy. The writing around her character is a but here and there, but it is how strong her act that we believe her turn from a sympathetic but creepy matriarch to downright terrifying lady.
Vaani Kapoor in Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui
Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui is one of the better films of 2021, that deserves some points from making a trans character its lead. In my review, I did mention I wish the movie would have chosen a trans actor to play the role of Maanvi, but Vaani Kapoor, who took on the character with no inhibitions, is simply outstanding in her act here. It is a fine performance where she nearly dominates her oft show-stealing male co-lead in their scenes together, and now that she is out of the YRF contract, I want to see more of Vaani in such good roles. Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui Movie Review: Vaani Kapoor and Ayushmann Khurrana’s Convention-Breaking Love Story Deserves Your Attention.
Ayushmann Khurrana in Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui
Ayushmann Khurrana doesn't disappoint ever. Even in a movie, that essentially shouldn't have been about his character (but then it does). As the testosterone-driven bodybuilder stung by the revelation of his lover's sexual identity, AK impressively displays first the anguish, then the insecurities and finally the calm acceptance, essentially driven his character's coming of age arc with enough charm and poise.
Ranveer Singh in 83
83 is a very pleasing film featuring a cast who are perfect for their roles. While actors like Jiiva, Pankaj Tripathi. Harrdy Sandhu, Ammy Virk are standouts, it is the 'skipper' who is easily the best part. Playing Kapil Dev, Ranveer Singh delivers another surprising performance that thankfully doesn't devolve into mimicry, but rather a well-done emulation. Just watch the scenes where he speaks in his broken English, and you know what I am talking about!
Dhanush in Atrangi Re
Remove Dhanush from Atrangi Re and cast an inferior actor there, and you might face all the flaws of this Aanand L Rai in full force. His Hindi feels much improved, Dhanush owns your attention right from the start, be it at the wedding mandap scene where he cries through the effects of laughing gas, or when he breaks down and bares his heart to Sara's character. It is a fantastic performance by the actor, who also delivered another terrific performance in Karnan in Kollywood.
(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Dec 31, 2021 10:46 AM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).