The year witnessed some gleaming performances in the Indian OTT space. We look back at the very best of them.
Jaideep Ahlawat as Hathi Ram Chaudhary in Pataal Lok
Best known for his impactful cameo in the first installment of Gangs of Wasseypur, Ahlawat took centre stage in the role of a lifetime: of a beat cop in a dead end job who finds himself thrust into the limelight investigating a high-profile assassination attempt. Ahlawat, in playing Hathi Ram Chaudhary, engages us as the committed cop stretched to his limits of his sanity as he balances his stressful job with the dysfunction in his family: a wife trying to hold it together and a son who’s embarrassed of him.
Pratik Gandhi as Harshad Mehta in Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story
Playing stock market bigwig Harshad Mehta, the little-known theatre actor Gandhi delivered an unforgettable performance. The role required him to simplify the complexities of the stock market, juggle Hindi and Gujarati languages without reducing his character into a stereotype, and speak corporate jargon. And the young actor did it all with ease and some more making him one of the most talked about actors of the year.
Sushmita Sen in and as Aarya
Aarya is the perfect example of why we need to see more of Sushmita Sen on screen. The former Miss Universe debuts the digital space in a role worthy of her grace and gravitas. As Aarya Sareen, Sush sails through her transformation from a cool-headed upper cruster to a smooth operator of a shady family-run business while battling great personal upheavals.
Divyendu Sharma as Munna Tripathi in Mirzapur
Divyendu Sharma reprises his role as Munna Tripathi in the new season of the crowd favourite Mirzapur. He continues to raise hell over the townspeople like only he knows how to. Munna’s character arc takes a much-needed turn as he finds love, and Divyendu fluently switches between murdering maniac and doting husband.
Shreya Dhanwanthary as Sucheta Dalal in Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story
Dhanwanthary nails the role of firebrand journalist Sucheta Dalal who blew the lid off the Harshad Mehta scandal. The actress brings fire and brimstone as her character takes on big money interests but she also provides the sensitive touch of the activist who understands the pain she’s inflicting upon her enemies.
Chandan Roy as Vikas in Panchayat
Easily the warmest show of the season, Panchayat is studded with brilliant performers like Neena Gupta as the absentee village head, Raghuvir Yadav playing her husband and de facto chief -- hence ‘Pradhan Pati’, and the ever convincing Jitendra Kumar in the lead role of a big dreaming city boy stuck in an unimportant bureaucratic job in a village. But it is newcomer Chandan Roy as Kumar’s thoughtful assistant, Vikas who ensures a charming presence with his warm smile, wise words, and an unpretentious performance.
Sumukhi Suresh in and as Pushpavalli
Few comedians make successful transitions to acting, but Sumukhi Suresh does well. As the creator and protagonist of her own show, Sumukhi returns as Pushpavalli -- a semi-autobiographical character stalking unrequited love.
Kay Kay Menon as Himmat Singh in Special OPS
One of India’s most cerebral actors takes on the role of a RAW officer doggedly pursuing the mastermind behind the 2001 terror attack on the Parliament for nearly two decades. As the composed and analytical Himmat, Menon carries the entire weight of an otherwise uneven series.
Abhishek Banerjee as Hathauda Tyagi in Paatal Lok
Banerjee has emerged as one of the mainstays of gripping web shows, and his portrayal of serial killer Hathauda Tyagi is testament to his ability. Tyagi is mentally disturbed yet focussed on the tasks given to him by his handlers, and he goes about executing them with chilling precision. He also gives us one of the stickiest lines of the year: “When a man loves a dog, he's a good man.”
Arshad Warsi as Dhananjay Rajput in Asur: Welcome to Your Dark Side
Few things are more pleasing than seeing an actor with Warsi’s gifts get a blank canvas to deliver a long-form performance. As Dhananjay Rajput, a forensic scientist hunting a mysterious serial killer, Warsi is as competent in a serious role as he is in portraying light-hearted characters.