THE BEST PERFORMANCES I SAW THIS YEAR
Man's World|January 2022
From Samantha Akkineni to Shabana Azmi, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Sidharth Malhotra, and Lijomol Jose, here are the movies and shows I watched and liked
Maithili Rao

Has the pandemic changed our viewing habits? Irreversibly? The answer is blowing in our subscription charges. There is an accompanying question too. Has it also changed our perception of actors and acting, along with viewing choices? Well, yes and no. Because even while we get addicted to time-draining series – and there are too many clamouring for attention as even more recommendations pour in from friends - a film remains a film, a lifelong habit difficult to shed. Easier to fit into a day too.

Film has the advantage of conveying the essence of a story and a person within 90 to 120 minutes. It is more concentrated. A film can be sublime, make you swoon with pleasure like a designer perfume. A finely brewed distillation to inhale, savour, and let the warmth of remembrance spread through your emotional receptacles. A transparently honest and calibrated performance in a film sinks into memory, like rain soaking thirsty soil. Agreed, such performances are rare, but they still surprise you.

The best performances in films this year, from the limited number I saw, the first two choices are automatic. By a strange coincidence, both roles are of marginalised people - a tribal woman and a Dalit man. This fact is a tragic comment on their plight in our uncaring society. They may be from different strata and the tone of the films poles apart, but they both suffer at the hands of a system caught in the iron grip of caste, privilege, and a hierarchic structure indifferent to suffering, when it is not unleashing deliberate cruelty.

Lijomol Jose in Jai Bhim

(Amazon Prime Video)

It is a role that pierces your conscience with a searing, gut-wrenching performance as Senggeni, the pregnant wife of Rajkannu, who is taken by the police for a theft he has not committed. If you are from the Irula tribe who are practically bonded labour in rural Tamil Nadu (without an Aadhar or voting card), they are the first to be clapped in jail, often resulting in hidden custodial death that is passed off as prison escape. In a film that graphically shows police brutality unleashed on Irula men, you feel the pain through Senggeni when she sees her husband so brutally battered that he can't swallow the mouthful of rice she feeds him. Jose's entire body is an instrument vibrating to many levels of pain, endurance, and uncompromising dignity. Jose convinces you that it is an Irula woman playing herself, reliving her tormented life. Lijomol Jose deserves every award going for the truth of her performance.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui in Serious Men

(Netflix)

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM MAN'S WORLDView All

What's Your Superfood?

From being a wartime staple in the late 1800s to becoming a comfort food, sago has emerged as quite the favourite in the healthy food category. Culinary experts list the superfood of the year that you must add to your diets

3 mins read
Man's World
May 2022

How Covid-19 Birthed India's Best Bar

South Goa’s Tesouro by Firefly was the surprise winner of the Best Bar honours in the 30BestBarsIndia 2021 rankings, beating established stars like Delhi’s Sidecar and Mumbai’s The Bombay Canteen for the coveted title

3 mins read
Man's World
May 2022

Eternally Yours, Lucky Ali

With a series of singles up for release and stage shows across cities, the 62-year-old singer-songwriter and composer continues to make music that connects with people

4 mins read
Man's World
May 2022

THE BUSINESS OF CINEMA WITH SIDDHARTH ROY KAPUR

A kickass career of 15 years and a new innings with his OTT debut, producer Siddharth Roy Kapur’s goals hold no boundaries. He discusses the web boom, the return of the silver screen, and what keeps him going

7 mins read
Man's World
May 2022

Driving the MINI JCW Hatch

It’s a car that makes driving fun, whether that justifies the high price tag is the question

5 mins read
Man's World
May 2022

Realme GT 2 PRO: The Next Sustainable Premium Flagship To Get Your Hands On

What's the difference between realme GT2 Pro and other smartphones from the realme family? Sustainable and environmentally-friendly designs.

3 mins read
Man's World
May 2022

SHAHID KAPOOR IS VIBING IN NAUTICA'S LATEST SPRING/ SUMMER COLLECTION

Now that the warmer months are officially here, it's time to rebuild your closet with breezy luxury pieces that will set the tone for the season.

1 min read
Man's World
May 2022

MUMBAI WITHOUT FILTERS

In his new book, The Opium of Time: Photographs of Mumbai 2010-2020, film-maker and photographer Sunhil Sippy provides an unvarnished glimpse of the city, particularly its marginalised people and places

10+ mins read
Man's World
May 2022

From an acting career to an active lifestyle, this Kapoor has it all

Scitron's Advance Whey is proven to deliver excellent results, and is also extremely tempting because of the milk chocolate flavour

2 mins read
Man's World
May 2022

DHAIRYA KARWA STANDING ON THE BRINK OF STARDOM

The data analyst-turned-model, who made his debut in Uri with a short but robust part, graduated to Deepika Padukone’s leading man in Gehraiyaan in just three years. The actor, standing on the brink of stardom, talks about a rank outsider’s journey into Bollywood

8 mins read
Man's World
May 2022