Streaming Stars

A Thriving Stream of Talent

admin   July 6, 2021

Streaming platforms have been a godsend for a slew of quality Indian actors striving for their due. Web shows have given them an opportunity to break out of the stifling confines of Bollywood. These talented performers who once thirsted for roles of substance can now demonstrate the full range of their talent. Mainstream cinema tended to pigeonhole them into stereotypical supporting roles. Not anymore. Among these actors are a few like Manoj Bajpayee and Kay Kay Menon who were names to reckon with even before the paradigm shift happened, but long-format narratives have certainly benefited them all, seasoned thespians and gifted greenhorns alike. By Saibal Chatterjee

Manoj Bajpayee

Investing In Roles

The Family Man, Ray, Mrs Serial Killer

Manoj Bajpayee

Manoj Bajpayee had minor roles in Govind Nihalani’s Drohkaal and Shekhar Kapur’s Bandit Queen, both 1994, before bursting on the scene with Ram Gopal Varma’s Satya (1998). He has since steadily built a reputation as an actor who invests every role with authenticity and depth. The Shool, Pinjar, Gangs of Wasseypur, Aligarh and Gali Guleiyan actor has had several streaming platform releases during the Covid-19 pandemic. Fans have seen the actor in Suraj Pe Mangal Bhaari and Silence… Can You Hear It?, besides the critically acclaimed Bhonsle. He is also the lead actor of the Amazon Prime series The Family Man, in which he plays a secret service operative who balances the pressures of his job and his commitments as a husband and father. His latest applauded appearance has been in one of the four segments of the Netflix series Ray, based on short stories written by Satyajit Ray.    

Kay Kay Menon

Assertive Actor

Special Ops, Ray

Kay Kay Menon

Kay Kay Menon, a versatile actor who has had a long and busy career, is known for doing complete justice whenever he has been presented with an opportunity to demonstrate his skills. His diverse filmography includes titles such as Sarkar, Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd, Life… in a Metro, Gulaal and Haider. With his assertive screen presence, Menon proves time after time that there are few of his ilk in the Hindi movie industry. In one of his most memorable performances, in the Hotstar series Special Ops, created and directed by Neeraj Pandey, the actor fleshes out a counter-terrorism officer who puts together a task force of five Indian spies spread across the globe to thwart a terror plot. More recently, he plays the lead in Bahrupiya, a segment of the Netflix series Ray.

Kani Kusruti

Actress & Activist

OK Computer, Maharani

Kani Kusruti

An accomplished theatre and film actress, Kani Kusruti, with her activism background, has wide-ranging experience across cultural platforms. She did her theatre training at the Thrissur Drama School and the Paris-based L’Ecole Internationale de Theatre Jacques Lecoq. Apart from acclaimed performances in the Malayalam films Kerala Café, Cocktail and Biriyani, which fetched her several awards, she has been seen of late in the Hindi-language web shows OK Computer and Maharani. She had a key role in Shaji N. Karun’s Oolu. In the wildly inventive futuristic fable OK Computer, created and directed by Pooja Shetty and Neil Pagedar, Kani plays a Goa cyber cell inspector investigating a hit-and-run case involving a self-driving car. In the Subhash Kapoor-directed Maharani, she essay the role of a sharp-witted bureaucrat posted as an adviser to the eponymous character, a homemaker who replaces her powerful politician husband as the Chief Minister of Bihar in the 1990s.

Vikrant Massey

Versatility In Web Shows

Mirzapur, Broken but Beautiful, Made in Heaven, Criminal Justice, Haseen Dillruba

Vikrant Massey

Few actors have cashed in on the recent spate of web shows and movies on the streaming platforms to the extent that Vikrant Massey, a one-time television star, has done. The 34-year-old actor played supporting roles in Vikramaditya Motwane’s Lootera and Zoya Akhtar’s Dil Dhadakne Do before landing the lead in actress Konkona Sen Sharma’s outstanding directorial debut, A Death in the Gunj. Massey made an instant impact, surrendering himself to a callow young man of the 1970s grappling with a hostile world. The actor’s ascent has continued since then thanks in the main to a series of web shows that he has been an integral part of. Among these are Mirzapur (Amazon Prime), Broken but Beautiful (ALTBalaji), Made in Heaven (Amazon Prime) and Criminal Justice. As 2021 reached the halfway mark, Massey had a Netflix release – Haseen Dillruba, a thriller co-starring Taapsee Pannu.    

Pankaj Tripathi

Strong And Steady Journey

Gunjan Saxena – The Kargil Girl, Ludo, Kaagaz, Mirzapur, Criminal Justice

Pankaj Tripathi

The Bihar-born National School of Drama alumnus has been on a steady upswing over the last ten years or so, starting with the accolades he garnered for his performance in Anurag Kashyap’s magnum opus Gangs of Wasseypur. Before he made his first appearance in Netflix’s Sacred Games in 2018-2019, he had a string of career-defining big-screen roles. Among them were critically hailed performances in Fukrey, Masaan (which was screened in Cannes’s Un certain regard), Newton (Which premiered in the Berlin Film Festival’s Forum), Gurgaon, Bareilly Ki Barfi and Stree. In the past couple of years, with cinema halls being shuttered, Tripathi has had several releases on the streaming platforms – Gunjan Saxena – The Kargil Girl and Ludo (both Netflix), Kaagaz (Zee5) and the web shows Mirzapur (Amazon Prime) and Criminal Justice (Hotstar).    

Jaideep Ahlawat

In Full St(r)eam

Ajeeb Daastaans, Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar, Bard of Blood, Paatal Lok.

Jaideep Ahlawat

Jaideep Ahlawat, 41, after several cameos in films such as Khatta Meetha, Chittagong and Rockstar, rose to prominence with Anurag Kashyap’s two-part Gangs of Wasseypur. He also played key roles in the Shahrukh Khan starrer Raees, the action film Commando: One Man Army, Kamal Haasan’s Vishwaroopam and Meghna Gulzar’s Raazi. In 2020-2021, Ahlawat, who learnt the ropes of acting at the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune, had as many as three releases on the streaming platforms – Khaali Peeli (ZeePlex), the Netflix anthology Ajeeb Daastaans and Dibakar Banerjee’s Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar. He made his web series debut in the Netflix spy thriller Bard of Blood before hitting his straps with a role in the critically acclaimed Amazon Prime crime drama Paatal Lok. The series revolved around Ahlawat’s character, Hathiram Chaudhary, a jaded Delhi policeman who is entrusted with the investigation of a high-profile case.        

Swastika Mukherjee

Shining Star From Bengal

Paatal Lok, Black Widows

A relatively late bloomer on the pan-Indian scene, Swastika Mukherjee has been one of the most accomplished actresses working in Bengali cinema for well over a decade. Her credits include Anik Dutta’s Bhooter Bhabishyat, Srijit Mukherji’s Jaatishwar and Suman Mukhopadhyay’s Shesher Kobita. Although she had roles in the Hindi films Mumbai Cutting and Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!, it wasn’t until she played the mentally disturbed wife of a leading Delhi journalist in Paatal Lok (Amazon Prime) that she was catapulted into the national consciousness. She then appeared in a key role in Dil Bechara, which turned out to be Sushant Singh Rajput’s last film. In the same year as Paatal Lok, Swastika was cast in the Zee5 crime drama series Black Widows alongside Mona Singh and Shamita Shetty. She has also been in a slew of Bengali-language web shows, all of which are on the Hoichoi streaming service.    

Swastika Mukherjee

Huma Qureshi

Style And Substance

Leila, Maharani

Huma Qureshi

Another of the many actors who arrived on the scene riding on the two-part crime drama Gangs of Wasseypur, the hugely talented Huma Qureshi, 34, has since successfully diversified into a variety of movie genres. Endowed with the natural ability and intelligence, the actress has two major web shows behind her. The first, Leila, released on Netflix in 2019, was directed by Deepa Mehta, among others. The dystopian drama series had her in the title role. More recently, she played the lead in the SonyLIV political thriller Maharani, set in 1990s Bihar. Her film roles have straddled a wide range, from Abhishek Chaubey’s dark comedy Dedh Ishqiya, in which she shared screen space with Madhuri Dixit, and the legal satire Jolly LLB, opposite Akshay Kumar, to the Malayalam film White, a Mammootty starrer in which she played dual roles, and the Tamil-language Kaala, alongside Rajinikanth.        

Zoya Hussain

Silence & Spoken Lines

Grahan

Zoya Hussain

A relative newcomer, Zoya Hussain made a strong impression with her very first big-screen role. The film, Anurag Kashyap’s Mukkabaaz, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2017. Playing a mute woman who marries the pugilist-protagonist, the actress conveyed a range of emotions with the use of spoken lines. Zoya has also been in a few independent films such as Teen Aur Aadha and Namdev Bhau: In Search of Silence, both directed by Dar Gai. She played key roles in the Rana Daggubati trilingual Kaadan and Navdeep Singh’s period action-drama Laal Kaptaan, starring Saif Ali Khan as a late 18th century bounty hunter in the Bundelkhand region of northern India. In June 2021, Zoya’s maiden web show, Grahan, began streaming on Hotstar Specials. In the role of a police officer who stumbles upon a dark truth about her father’s involvement in the 1984 Sikh riots, she delivers an impressively restrained star turn.    

Rasika Dugal

Visible On Web

Mirzapur, Made in Heaven, Delhi Crime, Out of Love, OK Computer

Rasika Dugal

An actress who has steadily risen up the ladder, Rasika Dugal is one of India’s most visible stars on the web. She made her big-screen debut in 2007, with a role in Anwar and followed that up with appearances in films like Anurag Kashyap’s No Smoking, Santosh Sivan’s Tahaan, Ram Gopal Varma’s Agyaat and Aijaz Khan’s Hamid. Dugal’s finest hour came when she played one of the principal roles in Anup Singh’s critically lauded 2013 film Qissa: The Tale of a Lonely Ghost. It had her in the role of a girl who marries a woman who has been raised as a boy. In the web space, Dugal has had a steady stream of successes with shows such as Mirzapur and Made in Heaven (both Amazon Prime), Delhi Crime (Netflix), Out of Love and OK Computer (Disney+Hotstar) and A Suitable Boy, a Mira Nair-directed BBC One series that is available in India on Netflix. 

Sobhita Dhulipala

From Kashyap’s Workshop

Made in Heaven, Bard of Blood, Ghost Stories

Sobhita Dhulipala

Yet another screen performer who cut her teeth in an Anurag Kashyap film. That film, Raman Raghav 2.0, premiered in the Directors’ Fortnight in Cannes in 2016. Dhulipala had two subsequent Hindi releases in quick succession, Chef (2017) and Kaalakaandi (2018), but neither made much headway at the box office. The Tenali, Andhra Pradesh-born actress, 29, made her Telugu-language debut in the espionage thriller (Goodachari). Geetu Mohandas then cast Dhulipala in her Malayalam film Moothon (The Elder One). Anurag Kashyap, one of the producers of the film, penned the dialogues for the Hindi version of the film. Moothon premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2019. That was the year that Dhulipala’s first web shows, Made in Heaven (Amazon Prime) and Bard of Blood (Netflix), made it to their respective streamers. Anurag Kashyap cast her in his segment of the Netflix horror anthology Ghost Stories.  

Rajesh Tailang

Seasoned Actor With Global Exposure

Delhi Crime, Mirzapur, Bandish Bandits

Rajesh Tailang

Rajesh Tailang is a seasoned actor with a body of work that has earned him substantial global exposure. He had lead roles in two films directed by Richie Mehta, Amal (2007) and Siddharth (2013). Both screened in the Toronto International Film Festival. Tailang was also in Prashant Nair’s Hindi dramedy Umrika, which premiered in the Sundance Film Festival in 2015. He played a supporting role in John Madden’s The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2015), so-starring Dev Patel, Dame Judi Dench and Maggie Smith. Tailang’s early work in Hindi cinema was as a character actor in Govind Nihalani’s Hazaar Charasi Ki Maa, Dev and Thakshak and Ketan Mehta’s Mangal Pandey: The Rising. Richie Mehta gave Tailang a supporting role in Delhi Crime (Netflix). The actor has also essayed roles in other web shows, notably Mirzapur and Bandish Bandits (both Amazon Prime).    

Jitendra Kumar

From Big Screen To Web Shows

The Viral Fever (TVF) shows, Panchayat, Chaman Bahaar

Jitendra Kumar

IIT Kharagpur graduate Jitendra Kumar’s progression as an actor has not been from big-screen cinema to web shows. He has built his career around outings on the streaming platform. He featured in a series of The Viral Fever (TVF) shows – Permanent Roommates, TVF Pitchers, TVF Bachelors Season 2 and TVF Tripling, among others. The 2019 TVF web show Kota Factory and the 2020 Amazon Prime Video series Panchayat cemented his position in the industry. His performances in these shows brought Jitendra to the notice of Mumbai filmmakers. The Hindi films that he has been a part of include the Ayushmann Khurana starrer Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan. One of his films, Chaman Bahaar, about a paan shop boy who falls in love with a schoolgirl who lives in a house opposite his shop, was released on Netflix.    

Kirti Kulhari

Chequered But Eventful Career

Four More Shots Please!, Bard of Blood, Criminal Justice: Behind Closed Doors

Sayani Gupta’s Four More Shots Please! co-star Kirti Kulhari, too, has had a chequered but eventful career, working her way through commercial Hindi films and then transitioning effortlessly into the web space. First noticed by Bollywood observers for her performance in Bejoy Nambiar’s Shaitaan, Kulhari went on to play meatier roles in films like Pink, co-starring Taapsee Pannu and Amitabh Bachchan, Madhur Bhandarkar’s Indu Sarkar, in which she played the titular role, Mission Mangal and Uri: The Surgical Strike. After striking a rich vein of form in the two seasons of Four More Shots Please! (Amazon Prime) and the one-off series Bard of Blood (Netflix), Kulhari made a strong impression with a layered performance in the role of a victim of domestic abuse accused of murder in Criminal Justice: Behind Closed Doors (Hotstar Specials).    

Kirti Kulhari

Ali Fazal

Varied Acting Career

Mirzapur, Ray, Death on the Nile  

Ali Fazal

Ali Fazal has had a varied acting career that ranges from theatre and Hindi cinema on one hand to international projects, including major British and American ventures, on the other. He made his Bollywood debut with a small role in Rajkumar Hirani’s 3 Idiots. His breakout performance was as an aspiring musician in the comedy Fukrey. He played one of the two lead roles in Stephen Frears’ Victoria & Abdul, opposite Dame Judi Dench, and had a special appearance in the Hollywood blockbuster Furious 7. Fazal has demonstrated his range as an actor in web shows. He plays the rough and ready goon Guddu in Amazon Prime’s Mirzapur, a series whose Season 3 is now in the works, and a ruthless corporate climber in the first segment of the recent Netflix anthology Ray. Fazal will be seen next in Kenneth Branagh’s Death on the Nile.    

Sayani Gupta

Striking Fine Balance

Inside Edge, Four More Shots Please, Pagglait, Kaushiki

Sayani Gupta

Sayani Gupta, who has in her repertoire two successful Amazon Prime Video shows, Inside Edge and Four More Shots Please!, both of which have seen two seasons so far, has made steady progress on the back of a series of widely lauded supporting roles in Hindi cinema. She essayed a significant role in the recent Netflix release Pagglait. Her big-screen career took off with Shonali Bose’s Margarita with a Straw, which premiered in the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). Another Sayani Gupta starrer, Bornila Chatterjee’s Titus Andronicus adaptation The Hungry, premiered in TIFF three years later. Her outings in commercial Hindi cinema include the Shahrukh Khan starrer Fan and Subhash Kapoor’s Akshay Kumar-spearheaded sequel to Jolly LLB. Sayani also played the eponymous character in the Indian thriller drama Kaushiki, which aired on the Hong Kong-based video streaming platform Viu.    

Mithila Palkar

Making It Big With Little Things

Girl in the City, Little Things

Mithila Palkar

Mumbai girl Mithila Palkar, who began her career in theatre, debuted in a supporting role as lead actor Imran Khan’s sister in the Hindi film Katti Batti. A Marathi version of Anna Kendrick’s Pitch Perfect ‘cup song’ made Palkar a social media sensation as the number went viral on YouTube. Debuting in the web space with Girl in the City in 2016, she gained wider acceptance with the show Little Things. The second and third seasons of Little Things premiered on Netflix, which bought the franchise. Palkar made her debut in Marathi cinema opposite Amey Wagh in Muramba. A lead role in the Hindi film Karwaan, starring Irrfan Khan and Dulquer Salmaan, followed. Actor-turned-director Renuka Shahane cast her in a key role in her first film as director, Tribhanga, headlined by Kajol.      

Abhishek Banerjee

Patience Pays Off

TVF Pitchers, Typewriter and Mirzapur, Paatal Lok

Abhishek Banerjee

Abhishek Banerjee did not find success easy to come by. Although he landed in Mumbai in his early 20s to be an actor, he had to bide his time. He however achieved fame as a casting director for Once Upon a Time in Mumbai, The Dirty Picture, No One Killed Jessica, Secret Superstar, Kalank, The Sky is Pink and Batla House, besides numerous other films and web shows, even as he continued to make brief on-screen appearances. He played a role in Devashish Makhija’s dark and disquieting Ajji. Then came a supporting role in Amar Kaushik’s horror-comedy Stree, starring Shraddha Kapoor, Rajkummar Rao, Pankaj Tripathi and Aparshakti Khurrana. He appeared in the web shows TVF Pitchers, Typewriter and Mirzapur. His career-defining performance was as the murderous Hathoda Tyagi in Amazon Prime’s Paatal Lok. Banerjee was also seen in the recent Netflix anthology Ajeeb Daastaans.    

Amit Sadh

Breathing Life Into Characters

Breathe, Avrodh: The Siege Within, Barot House, Operation Parindey, Yaara  

Amit Sadh

Like many of the actors who have hit paydirt amid the current web series boom, Amit Sadh began his career with a successful stint in television that spanned nearly a decade and a half. He worked his way up into mainstream Bollywood thanks to a well-received performance in 2013’s Kai Po Che. The actor has since played significant roles in the Salman Khan starrer Sultan, Sarkar 3, Gold and Super 30. In the web space, too, Sadh now has a significant presence. He played the no-nonsense Senior Inspector Kabir Sawant in both seasons of the Amazon Prime crime thriller Breathe. Season 1 had R Madhavan as the lead actor. In Season 2, titled Into the Shadows, Abhishek Bachchan stepped into the breach. Sadh played an army major in the SonyLIV military action series Avrodh: The Siege Within. He has also figured in the cast of three ZEE5 original films, Barot House, Operation Parindey and Yaara.

Radhika Apte

Poster Girl Of Web Shows

Lust Stories, Sacred Games, Ghoul, Raat Akeli Hai, OK Computer.  

Radhika Apte

If there is a poster girl of Indian web shows, it is Radhika Apte. Starting in theatre in Pune, she has had an exciting and eclectic acting career. Apte’s first lead role was in the Bengali film Antaheen (2009), co-starring Aparna Sen, Sharmila Tagore and Rahul Bose. She has since acted in his films across languages – her mother tongue Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Bengali and English. In the web space, her output has been just as wide-ranging: the Netflix anthology film Lust Stories, the sweeping thriller series Sacred Games and the horror mini series Ghoul. In addition to working in both independent and commercial Indian cinema, Apte has played stellar roles in international films such as Michael Winterbottom’s The Wedding Guest and Lydia Dean Pilcher’s A Call to Spy. Her latest web appearances have been in the Netflix thriller Raat Akeli Hai and the Disney+Hotstar series OK Computer.  

Divyenndu

Ek Prem Katha With Acting

Mirzapur, Season 2 of Permanent Roommates

Divyenndu

Divyenndu, best known for his role in the Amazon Prime crime series Mirzapur, was born and raised in Delhi where he was involved in theatre before he made the move to Mumbai. After a small role in the Madhuri Dixit-starrer Aaja Nachle, Divyenndu featured in two romantic comedies that catapulted him into the limelight – Luv Ranjan’s Pyaar Ka Punchnama and David Dhawan’s Chashme Buddoor. His big screen acting career has been benefited from the two commercial films that director Shree Narayan Singh cast him in – Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, starring Akshay Kumar and Bhumi Pednekar, and the social satire Batti Gul Meter Chalu, with Shahid Kapoor and Shraddha Kapoor. His first foray in the web space was via a cameo in Season 2 of Permanent Roommates.    

Shweta Tripathi

Language Doesn’t Matter

Mirzapur, Made In Heaven, Raat Akeli Hai, The Illegal.

Shweta Tripathi

Delhi-born Shweta Tripathi is best known for her performances in Neeraj Ghaywan’s directorial debut Masaan (a film that premiered in Cannes) and the popular Amazon Prime web series Mirzapur, in which she plays the sprightly Golu Gupta. In a career that is barely a decade old, the actress has toted up an interesting line-up of films that includes her Tamil-language debut Mehandi Circus (2019) and the inventive sci-fi film Cargo, directed by Aarti Kadav and released on Netflix (2020). Her first screen role was in Trishna (2011), a UK-India co-production written and directed by Michael Winterbottom with Riz Ahmed and Freida Pinto as the leads. Last year, Tripathi had two other Netflix releases, Raat Akeli Hai, co-starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui, and Danish Renzu’s Indo-American film The Illegal. Siddiqui was also her co-actor in the dark social drama Haraamkhor (2017). In 2019, the actress appeared in an episode of Amazon Prime’s Made in Heaven.    

Pratik Gandhi

Roots In Theatre

Scam 1992, Vitthal Teedi

Pratik Gandhi

The Surat-born Pratik Gandhi started his acting career in theatre and Gujarati cinema. After appearing in several plays, he hit the big time as a screen actor with the Gujarati film Wrong Side Raju (2016). It went on to win the National Award for the Best Gujarati Film. It wasn’t until Scam 1992 came out on SonyLIV that Gandhi became a nationally known name. The series has him in the role of Harshad Mehta, the stockbroker who masterminded one of India’s biggest-ever financial scandals. The series has catapulted the actor into Mumbai cinema orbit and he has begun to land roles in Hindi films. Gandhi has also played the lead role in the web series Vitthal Teedi, which was released on OHO Gujarati in early May. 

Shreya Dhanwanthary

Actor, Writer & Director

Family Man, Scam 1992, A Viral Wedding

Shreya Dhanwanthary

Hyderabad-born Shreya Dhanwanthary has two breakthrough web shows behind her. In The Family Man, top-lined by Manoj Bajpayee, she holds her as Zoya, a punctilious analyst in an anti-terrorism outfit. Playing another professional, a business journo this time around, in Scam 1992, a financial scandal web series directed by Hansal Mehta. Her performance as the real-life journalist Sucheta Dalal, has earned her positive reviews all around. Dhanwanthary made her big-screen debut in the Telugu-language film Josh (2009) starring Naga Chaitanya and Karthika, following it up with Sneha Geetham (2010). Her first Hindi film was Why Cheat India, co-starring Emraan Hashmi. The multi-talented actress wrote and directed A Viral Wedding, an Eros Now mini-series in which she also played the lead role. Loop Lapeta, the official Hindi remake of Tom Tykwer’s Run Lola Run, is scheduled to be Dhanwanthary’s next release.          

Akshay Oberoi

On A ‘High’

Selection Day, Flesh, High.        

Akshay Oberoi

New Jersey-born Akshay Oberoi has strong screen presence, which he presses into the service of every role that he plays, be it on the big screen or in a web show. When Oberoi moved to Indian armed with years of training in acting, jazz and ballet, he worked with Makarand Deshpande in Prithvi Theatre. He made his debut in Sooraj Barjatya’s Isi Life Mein. The film did not click but Oberoi was on his way. Isi Life Mein helped him prove that he had the chops to handle more challenging roles. He did just that in Gurgaon, a crime drama in which he plays the wayward son of a wealthy man with intelligence and a sense of balance. He also headed the cast of the horror film Pizza with panache. In the last few years, Oberoi has been seen in several web shows, including Selection Day (Netflix), Flesh (Eros Now) and High (MX Player).        

Maanvi Gagroo

Carving A Niche

TVF Pitcher, TVF Tripling, Permanent Roommates, Made in Heaven

Maanvi Gagroo

Maanvi Gagroo has surmounted entrenched body image barriers to carve a niche for herself in Hindi films and web shows. The Delhi-born actress appeared in web shows like TVF Pitcher, TVF Tripling, Permanent Roommates, and Made in Heaven before Four More Shots Please!. happened to her. In the breezy Amazon Prime series, which has had two successful seasons, Gagroo plays a girl who is a part of a quartet of spunky, self-willed women fighting male domination and gender biases. Gagroo’s big screen appearances have been in Ujda Chaman, a comedy which released in 2019, and the Ayushmann Khurrana starrer Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan, a humour-laced drama about same-sex love. Her other films are PK, Tu Hai Mera Sunday, Aamras and the Hotstar movie Guy in the Sky.    

Shriya Pilgaonkar

Her Game Is On

Mirzapur, Beecham House, The Gone Game, Crackdown

Shriya Pilgaonkar

Mirzapur actress Shriya Pilgaonkar began her acting career in 2013 with the Marathi film Ekulti Ek. It was written and directed by her father Sachin Pilgaonkar, who also acted in the film along with his wife Supriya Pilgaonkar. Shriya’s performance in the film fetched her multiple accolades. She subsequently landed roles in two big films – Fan, produced by the YRF banner and starring Shahrukh Khan, and the Indo-French co-production Un Plus Une, directed by the Oscar-winning Claude Chabrol. In the French film, she played the role of an Indian dancer and actor. Besides Mirzapur, Shriya has been in Gurinder Chaddha’s British historical series Beecham House, set in India during the Mughal era, The Gone Game, shot entirely during the pandemic-induced lockdown, and Apoorva Lakhia’s spy thriller Crackdown (both for Voot).  

Sunny Hinduja

Rapid Strides In Digital Sphere

The Family Man Seasons 1 and 2, Bhaukaal, TVF’s Aspirants

Sunny Hinduja

Indore-born BITS Pilani graduate and FTII acting alumnus Sunny Hinduja began his career playing meaty roles in niche independent cinema, including his debut in the experimental Ballad of Rustom, directed by Ajita Suchitra Veera. In 2017, his collaboration with Pakistani filmmaker Shazia Ali Khan yielded the feature film Pinky Memsaab. The moderate success in the independent cinema space notwithstanding, Hinduja has made rapid strides in the digital sphere. The young actor has in recent years garnered widespread critical and audience appreciation for his roles in Bhaukaal, TVF’s Aspirants and Chacha Vidhayak Hai Hamare, in which he is cast as the main antagonist. Hinduja played Milind in The Family Man Seasons 1 and 2 (Amazon Prime Video).  

Vijay Varma

From Hyderabad To Cannes

Mirzapur, A Suitable Boy, OK Computer, She

Vijay Varma

Hyderabad-born Vijay Varma, who began as a theatre actor in his hometown and then trained in the Pune-based Film and Television Institute of India, was first noticed globally in Amit Kumar’s Monsoon Shootout, which premiered in the Cannes Film Festival in 2013. The actor had another film in Cannes in 2018 – Nandita Das’s Manto, while Zoya Akhtar’s Gully, co-starring Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt, premiered in Berlin in 2019. His career, however, had commenced a few years earlier with well-received roles in films like Chittagong and Pink. Most recently, Varma was seen in the Hotstar series OK Computer, which was preceded by Mira Nair’s BBC One series A Suitable Boy. The actor played a dual role in Mirzapur and a violent criminal in the Netflix series She. Two of Varma’s recent films – Banfaad and Yaara – went direct to the Zee5 streaming service.

Sharib Hashmi

Part Of Oscar Journey

The Family Man, Asur, Scam 1992, Pagglait    

Sharib Hashmi

Sharib Hashmi began his acting career with an uncredited appearance in Danny Boyle’s Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire and a supporting role in Yash Chopra’s final film Jab Tak Hai Jaan, starring Shahrukh Khan, Katrina Kaif and Anushka Sharma. He then played the main character in Nitin Kakkar’s Filmistaan, which premiered at the Busan International Film Festival in 2012. Hashmi, whose fame now rests primarily on the Amazon Prime web show The Family Man, in which he plays the principal associate of the protagonist Srikant Tiwari (Manoj Bajpayee). His filmography includes Vodka Diaries, Batti Gul Meter Chalu, Nakkash, Ujda Chaman, Ram Singh Charlie (a film he co-wrote and had a cameo in) and Pagglait, which Netflix released in March 2021. Hashmi has also appeared in the Voot Select series Asur and the SonyLIV show Scam 1992.    


A Quest for Cinema’s Soul

admin   November 20, 2018

Veteran cinematographer and director Shaji N. Karun feels that both cinema and the audience have changed significantly in a way that allows for the achievement of instant success.  His new film, Olu (She), a fantasy woven around a gang-rape survivor thrown into the backwaters of Kerala, has been selected as the opening film of the section.

By Saibal Chatterjee

Shaji N. Karun, who earned his spurs lensing the films of celebrated Malyali directors such as G. Aravindan, K.G. George, M.T. Vasudevan Nair and Padmarajan, branched out 30 years ago as an independent director. His first film, Piravi (1988), ranks among the most lauded debuts in the history of Indian cinema. It screened in the 1989 Cannes Film Festival’s Un certain regard section and was a joint winner of a Mention d’honneur – Camera d’Or.

The veteran cinematographer and director who has crafted only six more narrative features since then feels that both cinema and the audience have changed in a way that allows for the achievement of instant success. “Not just filmmakers but all artists of the past had to work over long periods to establish themselves. Today, people are catapulted into the limelight all too quickly and, therefore, the process of forgetting is also very quick,” he says.

Besides the all-conquering Piravi, two other Shaji films – Swaham (1994) and Vanaprastham (1999) – have been in the Cannes official programme. In fact, Swaham remains the last Indian film to play in the Cannes Competition.

With his first film in four years, Olu (She), Shaji is back in the Indian Panorama of the International Film Festival of India.The new film, a fantasy woven around a gang-rape survivor thrown into the backwaters of Kerala, has been selected as the opening film of the section.

Like all his other narrative features, Shaji’s last film Swapaanam (2014), which probed the relationship between a master drummer and a Mohiniyattam danseuse, made it to the Indian Panorama.

Shaji laments that festivals too are becoming “centres of business”. He says: “There was a time when festivals had a vision of the future and therefore selections reflected that farsightedness. Now films are selected for their instant appeal, for what they yield for the moment.”

“Cinema’s roots lie in the realms of fantasy,” he says, citing the 1902 George Melies film, A Trip to the Moon. “Cinema was born because it had the power to dazzle audiences with its scale and spectacle. With Olu, I have sought to return in a way to the origins of cinema.” In his new film, the violated young woman not only survives underwater, she also becomes a muse for an artist struggling for inspiration.

Why has he made only seven films in 30 years? “You must remember that I devote 50 per cent of my time outside my immediate professional work. I’ve am actively connected with running film development bodies, organizing film festivals and other such activities,” he replies.

But Shaji believes that with the rapid technological advances that the world has seen in recent years, the very act of watching cinema has changed. “Technological tools now determine how a film is consumed. The umbilical cord between the filmmaker and the audience, which thrives in a darkened hall where a group watches a film together, has snapped,” he says. “It is now confined largely to personal enjoyment. It is no longer something meant for savouring in a shared space.”

“Today,” says Shaji, “everything in cinema is designed keeping the point of view of the consumer in mind. The primacy of the artist and the storyteller has been severely undermined.” So he believes that the time may have come for the operatic way of mounting films to be brought back not just to cinema but also to other art forms. But cinema, he asserts, must always retain its meditative, philosophical and spiritual qualities. “That is only way the medium can guard against losing its value as a medium of expression and a form of art,” he says.