This year, while Bollywood bombed in theatres, there wasn’t much solace on streaming. Still, there were some performances, narrative treatments and experimental music scores that served as a silver lining. Here are some things that stood out from the rest on OTT this year:
Vijay Varma’s menacing act in Darlings
Vijay Varma might be the only actor who can throw Alia Bhatt’s pregnant Badrunissa from Darlings down the stairs without flinching. His performance as the alcoholic, abusive husband Hamza Shaikh is the stuff of nightmares. The actor approaches the role with a latent evilness. In one of the scenes, the morning after roughing up his wife for a slight inconvenience, Vijay’s Hamza mollifies her like an apologetic lover. Pure brilliance.
The tonal shift of Panchayat Season 2
The latest segment of TVF’s Panchayat can serve as a lesson in warding off the curse of season 2s. The season retains the homeliness and the quirkiness of its predecessor. Furthermore, it delves into its protagonist Abhishek Tripathi’s existential dilemmas, touches on a promised love story and plays around with irony. So far, it seems like an extension of established themes. The shift comes in the final episode, when a tragedy makes the series put on a grey veil. No punchline seems worthy to ease the pain.
The retro-quirk of Monica O My Darling’s music
Since the advent of streaming, Hindi film music has taken a back seat. Monica O My Darling disrupts that phenomenon. Composer Achint Thakkar, who marked his presence with the music of Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story, explores the expanse of 70s chartbusters in this fun caper. While you would want the peppy Ye Ek Zindagi to be played at your wedding, you will hate yourself for humming the catchy tune of Bye Bye Adios at a funeral. Oh, and the lyrics are penned by Varun Grover.
The soccer and the sorcery of Jaadugar
A magician with zero interest in football has to lead his colony team to win a tournament in order to marry the love of his life. Jaadugar’s script logline must have been a tough sell. But an OTT film needs no advertising if it is led by Jitendra Kumar. What stands out is how this sports film--if it has to be called that—is told. There are no training montages or retired sportspersons seeking lost glory. Jaadugar celebrates the feeling of enjoying something as a community. It’s not about the trophy, the accolades, or the win, it is just about the play.
Jim Sarbh’s witty voice-act in Eternally Confused and Eager for Love
Nobody would lose the opportunity to have Jim Sarbh’s sculpted face on screen. Still, the antics he pulls off with just his voice in the Netflix’s coming-of-age series Eternally Confused and Eager for Love, call for a hoot. Jim plays the cutting inner-voice of the show’s timid protagonist Ray. He also, sometimes, talks through an action figure of Ray’s childhood superhero Wiz, which for some reason looks like Gandalf. Nevertheless, Jim is witty, snarky, raunchy and supremely entertaining. Who knew watching a person talk to himself can be so engrossing.
Ravi Chahar’s subtle performance in Jamtara: Sabka Number Ayega S2
It’s exemplary to leave a lingering impact in a multi-starrer series led by a towering Amit Sial. Ravi Chahar, as Jamtara’s new resident Rinku Mondal, with his suppressed smile and subtle effeminacy attracts the spotlight. The way he over-emotes while shooting a TikTok video is amusing, but his eyes tell a deeper story. His performance holds exceptional gravitas, especially in the scene where he kisses a male friend, mistaking care for love. Ravi’s Rinku gives Jamtara a necessary shade of humanism, lacking in most hinterland crime stories.