Best of 2020: Hindi Films and Series

A Potpourri of Vestiges Feature

The year 2020 to be a rather interesting year for the Hindi entertainment industry. At a time when Covid-19 forced the human population at large to spend the majority of its time indoors, the different OTT platforms came to the rescue. Here are some of the most outstanding Hindi films/series along with the best acting performances of 2020.

Best Films

1. Eeb Allay Ooo

This atmospheric satire by Prateek Vats highlights the problem of monkey menace in Delhi. The film is superbly crafted, wonderfully shot and cleverly edited, oozing with cinematic flair and powerful socio-political commentary. It’s currently running in theatres across India.

2. Bhonsle

Bhonsle, directed by Devashish Makhija, tells the story of a retired Marathi sub-inspector named Ganpath Bhonsle (essayed by Bajpayee) who becomes a witness to the atrocities that the Bihari migrants living in a locality are subjected to. Makhija’s gritty direction and Bajpayee’s tour de force performance make Bhonsle an unforgettable experience. It is currently streaming on SonyLIV.   

3. Taish (Film)

Set in the UK, Taish revolves around a family of gangsters and a family of doctors. It’s essentially a tale of friendship, betrayal, love, and revenge. People look up to Hollywood when it comes to the depiction of raw and gritty action. But what Bejoy Nambiar achieves in Taish is no mean feat. The film is currently streaming on ZEE5.

4. Door Ke Darshan 

Directed by Gagan Puri, Door Ke Darshan is a laugh riot. But it is also a very sensitive film about the complexity of relationships. It revolves around an elderly lady (played by Dolly Ahluwalia) who has been in coma for the last 30 years. When she suddenly regains consciousness her family must do everything to avoid giving her any shock. The film is currently streaming on Netflix.

5. Class of '83

The Netflix film Class of ’83, directed by Atul Sabharwal, follows the heroics and follies of encounter specialists who have been credited with bringing back the rule of law in Mumbai. Sabharwal’s direction along with his research work makes Class of ’83 a gritty cop thriller with immaculate period detail.

Honorable Mentions 

- Thappad

- Serious Men

- Chintu Ka Birthday

- Nirvana Inn

- Yeh Ballet

Best Performances (Film)

Best Actors – Female (Film)

1. Taapsee Pannu (Thappad)

Taapsee Pannu is known for her earnest performances but what she achieves in Anubhav Sinha’s Thappad is truly remarkable. Her facial expressions, body movements, and the inner pain and resolve emoted through her eyes make it a truly memorable performance.

2. Manisha Koirala (Maska)

Manisha Koirala’s portrayal of a Parsi mother is easily the best thing about Neeraj Udhwani’s Maska. But, it’s really no surprise to see her essay the character of a Parsi so well. For, she has excelled at playing an array of diverse characters in the past as well. With Maska, Koirala proves that she is here to stay.

3. Sanjeeda Sheikh (Taish)

Sanjeeda Sheikh delivers a mesmerizing performance in Taish. The chemistry she shares with Harshvardhan Rane is absolutely electrifying. It’s difficult to take one’s eyes off her every time she appears on the screen. Sanjeeda doesn’t have great lines to speak in the movie but she is able to say so much through the pain and longing in her eyes.

4. Saiyami Kher (Choked)

While Choked may not be an exceptional film, Saiyami Kher is superb in the role of a singer who is forced to take a job at a bank after she fails to win a reality shown. While she deserves a lot of credit for making the character so believable, Anurag Kashyap also needs to be commended for his ability to get the best out of his actors.

5. Yami Gautam (Ginny Weds Sunny)

While Ginny Weds Sunny is a forgettable film, Yami Gautam’s performance in it is like a breath of fresh air. It’s heartening see her trying hard to break out of her girl next door image. As Ginny, she is temperamental, edgy, demanding, and stubborn. It is one of the most challenging characters that she has essayed in recent times.

Honorable Mentions

- Vidya Balan (Shakuntala Devi)

- Female cast members of Door Ke Darshan

- Janhavi Kapoor (Gunjan Saxena)

Best Actors – Male (Film)

1. Manoj Bajpayee (Bhonsle)

Over the years we have seen Manoj Bajpayee deliver several memorable performances but his aforementioned performance in Bhonsle which ends with him exploding like only he can is easily one of his finest. It’s deeply nuanced and power-packed at the same time. It’s extremely rare to see a finer performance than this one.

2. Adil Hussain (Nirvana Inn)

An equally brilliant performance this year comes from another very fine actor, Adil Hussain, who stars as a boatman-turned-caretaker in Vijay Jayapal’s atmospheric psychological thriller Nirvana Inn. Hussain’s portrayal of a man caught in a Kafkaesque nightmare is so well measured that he doesn’t miss a note despite the challenges posed by the narrative’s constant tonal shifts.  

3. Harshvardhan Rane (Taish)

The raging gangster Pali Brar in Bejoy Nambiar’s Taish is a powerhouse of a character. And Harshvardhan Rane immortalizes it by delivering the best performance of his career thus far. Rane brilliantly channelizes Pali’s self-destructive drives. His mastery over the Eastern Punjabi dialect makes it even more convincing.

4. Saif Ali Khan (Tanhaji)

It’s common for today’s youth to get attracted to darker characters. Om Raut’s Tanhaji too has a very dark character pitted against its hero Tanhaji. His name is Udaybhan Singh Rathod. The character is essayed with menacing brilliance by Saif Ali Khan who is always at home playing these villainous characters..

5. Bobby Deol (Class of '83)

In Atul Sabharwal’s cop thriller Class of ’83, Bobby Deol packs a strong punch playing a no-nonsense cop who decides to take his revenge against the corrupt bureaucracy and its criminal allies by training five encounter specialists. It’s easily the finest performance of Bobby Deol’s chequered acting career that has set the stage for his new innings.

Honorable Mentions

- Amitabh Bachchan (Gulabo Sitabo)

- Nawazuddin Siddiqui (Serious Men)

- Vinay Pathak (Chintu Ka Birthday)

Best Series

1. Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story

The SonyLIV series, helmed by Hansal Mehta, tells the story of the rise and fall of Harshad Mehta. Hansal Mehta’s has been a rare voice in the country that seems to have taken interest in documenting real-life characters and actual events through his films. And by making a well-researched series like Scam 1992, Mehta has further boosted his reputation as a cinematic storyteller working in the vein of Oliver Stone.

2. Special OPS and Pataal Lok

Created by Neeraj Pandey, Special OPS is made in the vein of slow-burning espionage thrillers made famous by the works of John le Carré. The Hotstar series has vast panoply of characters—bureaucrats, politicians, cops, soldiers, spies, terrorists, brokers, hackers, terrorists, etc.—with many subplots spread across two decades. Special OPS is undoubtedly Neeraj Pandey’s best work till date. 

The Amazon Prime Video series Pataal Lok is marked by constant tonal changes. It revolves around a washed-out cop named Hathiram Chaudhary (essayed by Jaideep Ahlawat). While the series is essentially a blend of different genres, it is during its noir parts that the series is at its most exhilarating and the credit goes to Navdeep Singh who is the script consultant on Paatal Lok.

3. Churails

ZEE5 and Zindagi Original series Churails has been one of the biggest surprises of the year. Written and directed by Asim Abbas, a British-Pakistani filmmaker, Churails features a Pakistani ensemble cast. The series follows a group of Karachi's women who run a detective agency to expose the city's unfaithful, elite husbands. Banned in Pakistan for its strong content, Churails is nothing like anything you would have watched this year.

4. Flesh and Panchayat

This    Danish Aslam-directed Eros Now series stars Swara Bhaskar in the role of a female police officer who is pitted against the basest criminals as she tries to unravel a web of immorality, cruelty and corruption. While it is certainly not easy to watch for the faint-hearted, there is no denying that Flesh is an earnest attempt to portray the stark reality of human trafficking.

The Amazon Prime Video series Panchayat offers an alluring sneak peek into rural India. The simplicity of village folk and how it ends up creating unnecessary complications in the life of the protagonist are a recurring motif in the series. The light hearted series benefits from some clever writing and brilliant performances. Not since Malgudi Days has any show explored the spirit of rural India so well.

5. Aashram (Chapter 1&2)

This MX Player series helmed by Prakash Jha follows a self-styled god-man named Nirmal Baba, essayed by Bobby Deol. The series is a great return to form for Prakash Jha. Jha, who has tried to tackle this issue of casteism throughout his career, uses Aashram to take us to the very heart of discrimination. The series is also a reminder of how easily the people can be fooled by those in positions of power.

Honorable Mentions

- Asur

- Bandish Bandits

- Mirzapur 2

- JL 50

- Afsos

Best Performances (Series)

Best Actors – Female (Series)

1. Swara Bhaskar (Flesh)

Swara Bhaskar portrays the part of ACP Radha Nautiyal in Flesh with scalpel-like precision. Nautiyal is an insomniac and a hard-drinking police officer with a troubled past. As part of her job, she gets pitted against the basest criminals, day in and day out, as she tries to unravel a web of immorality, cruelty and corruption.

2. Sushmita Sen (Aarya)

Sushmita Sen has impressed everyone with her performance in the Hotstar series Aarya and there is no denying that she is brilliant in the titular role. It’s really heartening to see her essay such a gritty part in a web series. It’s certainly one of the best performances of the year. Credit also goes to Ram Madvani for casting Sen for the part.

3. Shweta Tripathi (Mirzapur 2)

Shweta Tripathi’s complex portrayal of Gajgamini "Golu" Gupta in Mirzapur 2 is a major highlight of the season. It’s really amazing to see her transformation from the first season. A nerdy, intelligent college student who loved to read books has metamorphosed into a vengeful woman with masochistic drives. 

4. Aaditi Pohankar (Aashram Chapter 1 & 2)

Aaditi Pohankar’s portrayal of Pammi, a girl belonging to a backward caste, who aspires to be a wrestler, is one of the highlights of the MX Player show.  Pammi idolizes the god man Baba Nirala as she sees him as her family’s only hope for living a life of dignity. It’s really a demanding part but Pohankar matches it with a courageous and meaty performance.

5. Neha Sharma (Illegal)

Voot Select legal drama series Illegal, directed by Sahir Raza, follows a young lawyer who is tricked by the big shot lawyer heading her firm into defending a rapist. In order to fight her adversaries in a male driven world she must fight her inner demons first. Neha Sharma shows just the right amount of vulnerability that the part requires. Also, she is able to portray the inner strength needed to make her as real as possible.

Honorable Mentions

- Sheeba Chaddha (Bandish Bandits)

- Female cast members of Churails

- Female cast of Four More Shot Please (Season 2)

Best Actors – Male (Series)

1. Kay Kay Menon (Special OPS)

In Special OPS, Kay Kay Menon essays Himmat Singh to a T. He may remind some of le Carré’s iconic George Smiley. Like Smiley, Singh first comes across as innocuously polite, unassuming, and someone you don’t easily feel threatened by. He is clever enough to hide his razor-sharp memory, inner cunning, and his ability to quickly detach himself from his human subjects if need be. Menon’s multilayered performance is a reminder of his remarkable range as an actor.

2. Jaideep Ahalawat (Pataal Lok)

Jaideep Ahalawat who has been on a roll since Raazi delivers the definitive performance of his acting career in Pataal Lok. As the washed-out cop Hathiram Chaudhary, Ahalawat is an absolute treat to watch. It’s raw and gritty with him going through an entire gamut of emotions. His comfort at delivering some of his lines in Haryanvi makes the part even more convincing.

3. Pratik Gandhi (Scam 1992)

Scam 1992 stars Pratik Gandhi in the central role of Harshad Mehta. It’s a breakthrough role for Gandhi following a long struggle but the 40-year-old actor has finally announced himself with a knockout performance. Quick-witted and oozing with an air of confidence and charm, Gandhi never really misses a note during his challenging portrayal of Mehta.

4. Jitendra Kumar (Panchayat)

Jitendra Kumar’s brilliant portrayal of an engineering graduate who reluctantly takes up the job of a secretary at a village panchayat is the USP of Panchayat. The actor is certainly proving himself with each new performance. He has really has come a long way from his TVF Pitchers days.

5. Sumeet Vyas (Dark 7 White)

Sumeet Vyas' menacing performance of a young and power-hungry politician for whom losing is not an option in the ALTBalaji and ZEE5 series is easily one of the biggest surprises of the year in the Indian web space. The political thriller is based on Shweta Brijpuria’s book ‘Dark White’.

Honorable Mentions:

- Atul Kulkarni (Bandish Bandits)

- Arshad Warsi (Asur)

- Akshay Oberoi (Flesh)

 A version of this article was first published in The Daily Guardian.

Readers, please feel free to share your opinion by leaving your comments. As always your valuable thoughts are highly appreciated!

People who liked this also liked...
Share on Google Plus


Post a Comment

Thanks for sharing for valuable opinion. We would be delighted to have you back.