Best Performances Of July 2021

From Nimisha Sajayan in Malik to Vikrant Massey in Haseen Dillruba, here is a list of exceptional performances this month, across streaming platforms


This is a monthly series where we highlight standout performances from the film and streaming universe. Since Film Companion watches widely, we decided to curate this list, foregrounding exceptional work, even if they did not have the proverbial spotlight on them.

Vinay Forrt, Malik

Streaming Platform: Amazon Prime Video

With David, Vinay Forrt got a character that has more impact on Ramdapalli and its citizens than the person the film is named after. He is gullible, envious and egoistic and the perfect lamb to use as a trap for the most skilled wolf. There’s nothing obvious about the way he gets played and you see traces of Sonny Corleone when he’s bested by people much smarter than him. The reason why Ali’s first murder appears so brutal is Vinay’s reaction to it — an uncontrollable twitch that appears out of nowhere — to make it more visceral.

Vikrant Massey, Haseen Dillruba

Streaming Platform: Netflix

Not many characters get the arc of Rishu in Haseen Dillruba.  He goes from a mild-mannered, small-town engineer with a slavish devotion to his gorgeous new wife to vicious sadist who hurts her because she hurt him and then, believe it or not, amputates his own arm.  Somehow Vikrant Massey pulls off this improbable change of personality with finesse.  A scene on the terrace in which Rishu weeps for his dismal fate is so good that the loopholes in the script got camouflaged.  That’s acting!

Pasupathi, Sarpatta Parambarai

Streaming Platform: Amazon Prime Video

There’s no need for chest-thumping nor is there a need for a big ‘I’m proud of you’ moment to understand what Rangan Vadiyar feels at the end of the film. It’s a complex role of a man who is slowly losing his grip over a sport and a clan that once celebrated him. Yet you totally feel why a novice like Kabilan would feel so devoted to this Dronacharya-like figure. Even in defeats, Rangan manages to generate dignity and respect from everyone in and outside the boxing ring. A big reason for that is the writing, an equally big reason is Pasupathi.

Nimisha Sajayan, Malik

Streaming Platform: Amazon Prime Video

Nimisha Sajayan is on a roll. She was terrific in The Great Indian Kitchen and Nayattu, and continues to be excellent in Malik as well. Malik is predominantly about men in positions of power, outplaying each other. But Nimisha as Roslin, an educated and sharp woman, is a formidable force and when she’s in a scene, it’s hard to look at anyone else but her.

Neeraj Madhav, Feels Like Ishq

Streaming Platform: Netflix

It’s been a while since his role as Moosa in The Family Man, but Neeraj Madhav exists at the opposite end of the morality spectrum in Interview, the standout segment of Netflix’s Feels Like Ishq anthology. As a nervous Malayali man who bonds with a Muslim woman while applying for a salesperson job at a Mumbai electronics store, Madhav radiates a sense of decency, emotional intelligence and ambition. His character grows in confidence with each frame, ending the film as more of a regular human than the quintessential migrant that Hindi cinema so often fetishizes.

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