The Best Performances On Streaming In October 2020, Film Companion
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This is a monthly series where we highlight standout performances from the 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. 

Grace, Halal Love Story 

Streaming Platform: Amazon Prime

As Suhra, Grace gets the best character in Halal Love Story. When we meet her first, we struggle to see the pain she’s hiding in what appears to be a perfect family. But as we learn more about her and her marriage, we see the cracks starting to develop and the secrets she’s been withholding for years. She also gets an emotional breakthrough which she performs with great restraint and subtlety. So it really hurts us when this most innocent of people lives with her heart broken, waiting for art to be her outlet to bring her peace. 

Scam 1992 Harshad Mehta

Shreya Dhanwanthary, Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story

Streaming Platform: SonyLIV

As Sucheta Dalal, the Times Of India journalist who uncovered Harshad Mehta’s dealings in Scam 1992, Shreya Dhanwanthary was brilliant and entirely at ease. It’s rare to see an actor so comfortable in the skin of their character that they can just Be, instead of having to constantly Do.

Pratik Gandhi, Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story

Streaming Platform: SonyLIV

The breakout star of Scam 1992 was Pratik Gandhi who plays the controversial figure Harshad Mehta. The unassuming charm that could very well be interpreted as arrogance, the ambition that often articulates itself as greed, the friendship that becomes utilitarian, Gandhi embodies all of this and the teetotalling, accented, and swaggered proclivity with such ease and simplicity it is hard to believe that he is playing someone- the transformation is so consummate. 

Rasika Dugal, Mirzapur 2

Streaming Platform: Amazon Prime

An arc that was difficult to fathom in the first season found life and meaning in the second. While the males of the Tripathi household sink deeper into their own masculine battles of egos, powers and deceit, Rasika Dugal’s Beena Tripathi transcends her status as a victim of abuse by cleverly turning the tables on them. Dugal is a streaming MVP of sorts, and she brings all her nuance and side-staring magic to Beena to turn her into both a sly mole and a woman of intellectual agency. There’s never a dull moment with her on screen, while she plays each of the men – from her husband to her perverse father-in-law to the household servant who she once had an affair with – while exploiting the impression of a pregnant wife. 

The Best Performances On Streaming In October 2020, Film Companion

Anant Mahadevan, Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story

Streaming Platform: SonyLIV

Ideally, the entire cast of Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story belongs on this list. But the superbly written series is most remarkable for the way it un-typecasts veteran actors who’ve been around for decades. From Satish Kaushik to KK Raina to Vivek Vaswani, every one of them subverts our perception of their Bollywood roles. The most significant of them is actor-director Anant Mahadevan, who as the Governor of the RBI S. Venkitaramanan, plays a powerful but righteous government servant who is frustrated with his own cog-in-the-wheel status. Mahadevan’s chaste diction and pensive aura are a far cry from the commercial roles we’ve grown up watching him in, and he symbolizes a series whose attention to detail extends to the authenticity of each of the “players” in India’s biggest financial scam. 

Aakshath Das, Serious Men

Streaming Platform: Netflix

“Youth” is hard to direct, the formative stage of learning means that kids recite their lines instead of speaking like kids, and adult writers – with an adult perception of childhood – tend to speak through them. But Serious Men hinges on a kid, Adi, whose entire life is already a performance – his father cons the world into believing that the child is a genius – and therefore the reciting and memorization of lines actually defines the premise. Little Aakshath Das is terrific as a performer within a performance: when Adi is trained, one can sense that he too is training to wow the world. 

The Best Performances On Streaming In October 2020, Film Companion

Harshvardhan Rane, Taish

Streaming Platform: Zee5

Rane’s character Pali has the odd requirement of being a strongman with a soft voice. The last time we saw such a contradiction in a big film, it was Varun Dhawan’s character in Kalank, which didn’t go down well. The first we see of him in Taish he is weeping Punjabi love poetry in a car, drunk, before he walks out as the beat drops, and guns down a man before pointing it at his own brother. His intensity leaks into abuse, and perhaps it’s the film’s inability to distinguish one from the other that makes Pali such an enigmatic character we never entirely sympathize with, despite hoping the best for him. Rane’s portrayal gives this dual feeling legitimacy.

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