Top 5 Supporting Performances in 2016

Towards the end of 2016, it’s fairly normal to make year-ender lists about the best of Hindi films, best actors and filmmakers. But there is perhaps one category that consistently has plenty of options to choose from. Most of these faces – occupying crucial supporting roles – stand out in their bit performances, leaving us with lasting memories in a minimal amount of time. Some of them are glorified cameos, while some are genuine second leads.
Here’s a list of the top five supporting actors, male or female, in this year’s Hindi cinema, in no particular order.
 
Shabana Azmi (Neerja)
Bollywood: Top 5 Supporting Performances in 2016
As the stricken, emotionally heavy mother of flight purser Neerja Bhanot (Sonam Kapoor), she demonstrates a full range of emotions – from initial shock to full-fledged grief throughout the film. It all culminates with perhaps the best cinematic moment in movies this year: of her addressing those gathered at her daughter’s funeral, with the body in front of her, as she holds back tears and is conflicted between being public strength and private weakness. 
 
Ratna Pathak-Shah (Kapoor & Sons: Since 1921)
Bollywood: Top 5 Supporting Performances in 2016
As the long-suffering wife and mother of the dysfunctional Kapoor family, her reaction at learning that her “good” son (Fawad Khan) is gay will long be remembered as the face that encapsulates a million Indian-mother attitudes – torn between her conservative outlook and her unconditional love for the boy she never thought would “let her down”. She seems to spend most of the film either being enraged by her half-estranged husband or being the nagging, ethically diverse mother to two sons who need her in different ways. A terrific, lived-in performance by one of Hindi cinema’s finest actresses, this.
 
Ashish Vidyarthi (Bollywood Diaries)
Bollywood: Top 5 Supporting Performances in 2016
As the Bhilai-based middle-aged ‘settled’ government servant who quits his job to pursue his long-overdue acting ambitions in B-town, theatre veteran Vidyarthi – who has spent most of his Bollywood career doing hammy villainous roles – shines as a beta-male and bull-headed aspirational icon. He makes you feel for his suppressed being, at a stage where he badgers his wife to let him shift to Mumbai with their savings, now that their son is married. 
 
Amruta Subhash (Island City)
Bollywood: Top 5 Supporting Performances in 2016
In Ruchika Oberoi’s exquisitely crafted indie, Island City, Ms. Subhash plays a Maharashtrian wife at odds with her feelings after her misogynistic husband goes into an indefinite coma. She is subtle, expressive and adept at making us feel strangely happy for her, as her previously-suppressed family begins to open up more, inspired by a K-serial-ish soap on their new television set. Along with her fleeting role as Nawazuddin’s terrorized sister in Raman Raghav 2.0, Subhash’s 2016 in Hindi films has been fantastic. This was the single-most affecting performance of a year full of such acts.
 
Kirti Kulhari (Pink)
Bollywood: Top 5 Supporting Performances in 2016
Out of the three girls, Kulhari’s breakdown scene in the court, followed by the kitchen sequence where she is slapped to her senses while still being ambiguous about the fateful night, is perhaps the most crucial driving force of the film and its motivations. Kulhari looks, behaves and sounds the part of a working Delhi girl up to her head with the vagaries of male entitlement, doing a spectacular job of reminding viewers why she should be acting in far more films than she is.

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