Best Performances Of May 2021, Film Companion
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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. Do note that a lot of the films that released on streaming this month were theatrical releases in previous months, and we have covered them there — the April edition celebrated Dhanush and Natarajan Subramaniam in Karnan, while the March edition spotlighted Sumesh Moor in Kala, and Sukant Goel in Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar

Karma Takapa, The Last Hour

Streaming Platform: Amazon Prime Video

Karma Takapa’s character, Dev, in The Last Hour is a shaman who can talk to spirits and is shown doing things like entering the twilight zone between life and death. It’s the kind of role that can easily look silly, but Takapa — dressed in jeans and jackets, rather than some ritualistic regalia — gives it a certain believability. Half the job is done due to authentic casting; Takapa, who had made the Sikkimese indie Ralang Road, has a cultural understanding of the region. Add to that, he has a sincere, calm presence in front of the camera.

Neena Kulkarni, Photo Prem

Streaming Platform: Amazon Prime Video

One of the sweetest performances yet, Neena Kulkarni plays a 55-year-old woman who hates, and is afraid of, taking photos but realizes that as she inches closer towards death she will need a nice photo to use for the funeral and the announcement in the papers. The sheer horror on her face seeing her daughter contort into cringe poses for her wedding photos, followed by the horror of seeing a 55-year-old woman dead from a heart attack being remembered by a childhood photo registers equally on her face. Her banter with the house help, her  chid-chid with her husband, her casual presence gives even stabs the serious questions of mortality with comic relief.

 

Suvinder Vicky, Milestone

Streaming Platform: Netflix

Playing a North Indian truck driver named Ghalib can sound like a tall and profound order, but Punjabi actor Suvinder Vicky delivers one of the year’s most immersive turns in Ivan Ayr’s sophomore film, Milestone. The performance isn’t all grief and melancholy. Suvinder plays the world-weary Ghalib in a way that suggests a before and an after, with the viewer simply climbing onto a moving truck of life. There is subtext, context and pretext hidden within his sighs and soft-spoken subservience, even as he plays a man trapped in the vacuum between destinations.

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