WINNERS TAKE ALL
Filmfare|April 2021
DEVESH SHARMA profiles the winners of the 66th Vimal Elaichi Filmfare Awards 2021
DEVESH SHARMA

What does a single slap entail?

Probably everything when it comes to self-respect. Thappad showed us that it’s not always right to turn the other cheek. The film, about marital discord, won the Best Picture trophy for its producers Anubhav Sinha and Bhushan Kumar. Anubhav also won the Best Story trophy, along with Mrunmayee Lagoo Waikul, for the same film. And Taapsee Pannu took home the Best Actor In A Leading Role (Female) trophy for her sensitive portrayal of a homemaker who chooses not to be a victim and fights back at the first instance of violence. Eeb Allay Ooo! The title will have you scratching your head but this unheard-of film about the plight of migrant workers is certainly worth a dekko, especially in such uncertain times. Amitabh Bachchan is furiously reinventing himself these days, taking greater risks than he did in his heyday and shaming younger actors into upping their game. He won the Best Actor (Critics’) Award as an eccentric landlord at odds with everyone in the world in Gulabo Sitabo. The Best Actress (Critics’) trophy went to Tillotama Shome for Sir. Her true-to-life portrayal of a maid who finds herself falling for her employer is really out of this world. The late Irrfan Khan was both our Best Actor and the Lifetime Achievement Award winner. The cruel hand of death snatched him away from us at a time when he was touching his peak both nationally and internationally. Know about them and about every other winner in this specially-curated segment...

BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE (MALE)

IRRFAN KHAN

ANGREZI MEDIUM

Irrfan Khan, as we know, was undergoing treatment for a near-fatal disease and was in much pain throughout the shooting of the film. So kudos to him for overcoming the odds and giving us another masterful performance. The film was all about the bond between fathers and daughters and it all felt achingly real. The film proved to be his swan song. Through his courageous efforts, he proved that not even death can dilute the power of a heartfelt performance.

NOMINEES

• Ajay Devgn (Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior)

• Amitabh Bachchan (Gulabo Sitabo)

• Ayushmann Khurrana (Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan)

• IRRFAN KHAN (ANGREZI MEDIUM)

• Rajkummar Rao (Ludo)

• Sushant Singh Rajput (Dil Bechara)

BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE (FEMALE)

TAAPSEE PANNU

THAPPAD

Taapsee Pannu is growing as an actor with each passing film. In Thappad, she plays a woman who chooses to walk out of her marriage after a single incident of domestic abuse as she feels she’s been slighted. Her silences, her body language say it all. She stays within her character throughout and makes you root for her. She makes you experience the world through her character Amrita's eyes and makes you understand the importance of her fight. It’s another fine portrayal from the actor.

NOMINEES

• Deepika Padukone (Chhapaak)

• Janhvi Kapoor (Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl)

• Kangana Ranaut (Panga)

• TAAPSEE PANNU (THAPPAD)

• Vidya Balan (Shakuntala Devi)

BEST ACTOR (CRITICS')

AMITABH BACHCHAN

GULABO SITABO

The thespian plays an ageing landlord who is always at odds with the people around him. His is an unsatisfied soul who is never at peace. The actor has done many unusual roles before -- Black and Paa are two examples — and he continues to amaze us with his virtuosity. It’s as if he’s taken upon himself to increase the difficulty levels as he ages. Bachchan is almost hidden under layers of make-up but he doesn’t let that hinder his acting skills and comes up with a commanding performance once more.

NOMINEES

• AMITABH BACHCHAN (GULABO SITABO)

• Irrfan Khan (Angrezi Medium)

• Rajkummar Rao (Ludo)

• Sanjay Mishra (Kaamyaab)

• Shardul Bhardwaj (Eeb Allay Ooo!)

BEST ACTRESS (CRITICS')

TILLOTAMA SHOME

SIR

Tillotama Shome shines as a maid from rural Maharashtra who sees Mumbai as a chance to begin life anew. She soon develops an emotional bond with her America-returned landlord. He’s hurting from a broken engagement and finds solace in her company. But the maid is practical enough to know that love isn’t enough as the chasm between them is too deep. The little touches she imparts to her character, the body language, the palpable sense of unease -- you feel as if you’re watching a real maid and not an actor portraying a role.

NOMINEES

• Bhumi Pednekar (Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare)

• Konkona Sen Sharma (Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare)

• Sanya Malhotra (Ludo)

• Taapsee Pannu (Thappad)

• TILLOTAMA SHOME (SIR)

• Vidya Balan (Shakuntala Devi)

BEST DIRECTOR

OM RAUT

TANHAJI: THE UNSUNG WARRIOR

A disclaimer before the beginning of the film states that it doesn't vouch for historical accuracy so don't go into looking for facts here. What director Om Raut has done is bring alive the valour of Tanhaji on the silver screen. The film follows the adventures of Tanhaji Malusare and his band of bravehearts as they attempt to wrench the tactically important Kondana fort from the hands of the Mughals. From an obscure footnote in history, the warrior looks like the stuff of legend as his exploits get recreated on celluloid.

NOMINEES

• Anurag Basu (Ludo)

• Anubhav Sushila Sinha (Thappad)

• OM RAUT (TANHAJI: THE UNSUNG WARRIOR)

• Sharan Sharma (Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl)

• Shoojit Sircar (Gulabo Sitabo)

BEST FILM (CRITICS')

EEB ALLAY OOO!

PRATEEK VATS

The film is an absurd comedy about the plight of migrant workers in metros. It reaches out to the people belonging to the grassroots level and points out that sometimes the fate of such marginalised people is worse than that of the animals. The protagonist can’t land a job and gets hired to curb the monkey menace and develops a strange empathy with the apes. The film is a moving document of human suffering and should be lauded for pushing the envelope when it comes to narrative treatment as well.

NOMINEES

• EEB ALLAY OOO! (PRATEEK VATS)

• Gulabo Sitabo (Shoojit Sircar)

• Kaamyaab (Hardik Mehta)

• Lootcase (Rajesh Krishnan)

• Sir (Rohena Gera)

• Thappad (Anubhav Sushila Sinha)

BEST FILM

THAPPAD

The film points out that women have been conditioned for generations to support wrong practices for the sake of domestic peace. It makes a case for the fact that even the smallest act of domestic violence is an offense. What you see on screen looks and feels real. The film shakes you up as you realise that patriarchy is indeed deeply ingrained in the very bones of our society. Kudos to the makers for making us face this grim reality, which we often turn a blind eye to.

NOMINEES

• Gulabo Sitabo

• Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl

• Ludo

• Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior

• THAPPAD

BEST DEBUT (DIRECTOR)

RAJESH KRISHNAN

LOOTCASE

Lootcase is a rollcicking document about human greed. It tells a story of a man who inadvertently finds a suitcase full of money and doesn’t know what to do with it. Carrying the absurdist leanings of the film further, the protagonist is shown to develop a relationship with the suitcase, pouring his heart out to the inanimate object. The hilarious monologue spouted by the protagonist provide for rib-tickling comedy.

BEST DEBUT (FEMALE)

ALAYA F

JAWAANI JAANEMAN

Alaya Furniturewala makes a confident debut, displaying a mixture of strength and vulnerability that was needed in the film. She fits right in there with Saif, hoping for his friendship, his support but is okay with a life without him as well. The most refreshing thing about her character is that it isn’t judgmental of anyone’s life decisions. Her character just goes with the flow, hoping for the best and Alaya’s portrayal catches the easy optimism of youth quite effectively.

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

IRRFAN KHAN

Irrfan studied drama at NSD after doing his MA. He moved to Mumbai after passing out and acted in numerous television serials, including Chanakya, Bharat Ek Khoj, Sara Jahan Hamara, Banegi Apni Baat, Chandrakanta, Shrikant and Sparsh. He made his big-screen debut with the Academy Award nominated film Salaam Bombay! (1988) directed by Mira Nair. He was also seen in the acclaimed art film Ek Doctor Ki Maut (1990).

He became a known face in the West when London-based director Asif Kapadia gave him the lead in The Warrior (2001), which won acclaim in several film festivals abroad. He later went on to act in several prestigious projects from the West like The Namesake (2006), The Darjeeling Limited (2007), the Academy Award winning film Slumdog Millionaire (2008), New York, I Love You (2009), The Amazing Spider-Man (2012), Life of Pi (2012), Jurassic World (2015) and Inferno (2016).

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