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7 Underrated Performances of 2023

December 16, 2023 12:12 IST
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Even as we tip our hats to the best performances of 2023, there are quite a few that may have gone unnoticed.

Subhash K Jha lists the actors who deserve the spotlight.


Abhishek Chauhan in Mast Mein Rehne Ka

Not having seen this young actor's work in the past, I was completely bowled over by Chauhan in Vijay Maurya's charming, slice-of-life drama.

He could have easily toppled over in the realm of overstatement (read: hamming), but Chauhan reins it in.

He reminded me of Raj Kapoor in Awara.


Sidhant Gupta in Jubilee

What a delightful, ebullient performance this struggler of our times gave as a struggler in Filmistan during the turbulent times when the country was divided into two.

A warning: Don't underestimate the power of the underdog.


Shahana Goswami in Zwigato

Nandita Das' seriously underrated film about a food-delivery boy during COVID had Shahana Goswami delivering a knockout performance as the supportive, resourceful, wife of her suddenly jobless husband.

Is there anything Shahana can't do?


Amruta Subhash in Lust Stories

Speaking of the power of the OTT, here was Konkona Sen Sharma's short story in an uneven anthology where Amruta Subhash stood out as a househelp, who uses her employer's posh bedroom for some us-time with her husband.

Oh, the way Amruta stood her ground, hand on hips, retort on lips... oof, take a bow, lady!


Saiyami Kher in Ghoomer

As a cricketer who loses a limb in a car accident, Saiyami not only plays a seriously disabled cricketer, she also makes sure the audience spares no sympathy for her character.

Only admiration.


Alaya F in Almost Love With DJ Mohabbat

Alaya F and debutant Karan Mehta nail their parts in Anurag Kashyap's Almost Love With DJ Mohabbat.

Alaya performs better in the London episodes where she must play Ayesha, a lonely, spoilt rich brat and an embarrassingly clingy, love-smitten creature to a self-absorbed musician.

In one of the film's most beautifully conceived sequences, Ayesha tells the introverted Harmeet why she cannot help being his little lamb, why she goes all mushy when she looks at him.

It's a memorable monologue brilliantly performed by Alaya.


Kay Kay Menon in Love All

This small underated film has a certain dignity and poise in the storytelling.

A lot of these qualities emerge from Kay Kay Menon's central performance as Siddharth Sharma, a former badminton champ whose career was cut short by politics in sports and now Siddharth won't let his son Aaditya (a fabulously dedicated performance by Ark Jain) anywhere near the sportsfield.

Siddharth's transformation from unreasonable dad to a flexible, sporting mentor would have seemed abrupt and manufactured were it not for Kay Kay Menon, who makes this transformation believable.

From the opening credits when we see him sitting quietly in a taxi with his family as they arrive in Bhopal, Kay Kay's eyes brim with untold pain.

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