Best Supporting Actress 2019

Not a very favourable year for female supporting actors, 2019 was a mixed bag in terms of variety and impact. This phenomenon was also visible in the roles essayed by female actors in leading roles too. The question is whether our writers and filmmakers are falling short of designing nuanced characters for women, let alone lengthy and author-backed ones.

Below are the year’s finest female supporting acts, ranked in reverse order:

10. Anupriya Goenka (War)

Siddharth Anand’s War did not mandate the presence of a female lead. The ones that are incidentally in the film are there so that a certain ‘woman quota’ is filled – if I ought to put in the harshest terms. Yet, if there’s someone who escapes unscathed from this unfortunate scenario, it is Anupriya Goenka who plays a close associate to the film’s central male leads (played by Hrithik Roshan and Tiger Shroff). As a diligent officer, Goenka is no-nonsense adds value and a good deal of grace to the testosterone-filled film’s narrative.

9. Amrita Puri (Judgementall Hai Kya)

Amrita Puri’s character does not surface until the film’s second half. Mind you, it is a relatively small part but nowhere close to insignificant. Playing Bobby’s (Kangana Ranaut) cousin and Raj’s (Rajkummar Rao) wife, Puri’s Megha is a significant cog in the film’ s screenplay. Playing a pregnant woman, the actor is at her natural best during the initial scenes and later in the volatile climactic moment which has her express fear and contempt with finesse.

8. Tabu (De De Pyaar De)

Believe it or not, Tabu loves to do her share of commercial films. As opposed to several of her contemporaries, it does not look as if the actor does it as a money-minting exercise. She gives her heart and soul to the smallest parts, to some of the most insipid films. Director Akiv Ali’s reasonably entertain De De Pyaar De sees Tabu at her classy best. It’s a rather tricky role with a couple of cringe-worthy lines but the phenomenal actor that she is, Tabu makes it work. Her emotional confrontation with her husband in the pre-climax forms good enough proof to this statement.

7. Juhi Chawla (Ek Ladki Ko Dekha To Aisa Laga)

My first impression of Channo’s part was how it was typically designed to be played by Upasana Singh. At the same time, it also felt a little too safe for an actor of Juhi Chawla’s calibre to ace. As Ek Ladki Ko Dekha To Aisa Laga proceeds ahead, we observe how Chawla adds tiny yet immensely gorgeous shades to her character of a coquettish divorcee. She delivers the most powerful (and risky) message with an air of sprightly nonchalance that it’s impossible to not sit down and take notice. Shelly Chopra’s film, that way, is a timely reminder the actor is a lot more than the characters that she is offered right now and her best is yet to come.

6. Deepika Amin (Gone Kesh)

Director Qasin Khallow’s Gone Kesh dealt with the unusual case of alopecia, that is women’s balding. Playing the protagonist Enakshi’s (Shweta Tripathi) mother, Deepika Amin was a poignant picture of unconditional love. Staying true to the film’s small-town roots, the artist makes sure to render her rather basic (yet significant) part as flavourful as possible. Be it with her concern to get her daughter married or with the genuine warmth that is inherent of her as a person, Amin makes a simple part come beautifully alive.

5. Zaira Wasim (The Sky is Pink)

This is the actor’s last screen appearance. Well, all off-screen hullabaloo aside, Zaira’s freewheeling interpretation of a terminal patient’s trauma is haunting, to say the least. In Shonali Ghosh’s deeply affecting family drama, Wasim’s Ayesha becomes the epicentre for the rest of the characters to revolve around. Her calming screen presence forms a formidable combo with her perplexed screen-family’s woes. While the emotional breakdowns are predictably terrific, it is in the tiny, unsaid moments such as that of a crush with her classmate that Zaira gets to display her tremendous understanding of the craft. If only we could have her back for more…

4. Farrukh Jaffar (Photograph)

“Fikar kaise na karun, maa ka dil hai beta”

This line by the Farrukh Jaffar in Ritesh Batra’s Photographer haunted me for days. It’s less about the poignancy in the words and more thanks to its rendition. Playing the grandmother of Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s Rafi, Jaffar is the borderline annoying, insistent elderly woman. It is a tricky part of make us root for but the actor’s innate goodness easily wins us over. Photograph makes us consider her goals as much as Rafi’s. Delightfully enough, the performance seldom comes across as one that has been ‘performed’.  Farrukh Jaffar is as real as real would ever get.

3. Amruta Subhash (Gully Boy)

Imagine playing mother to an actor who is a half-a-decade younger to you? Well, that’s not an uncommon sight looking at the legacy of Indian cinema. However, Zoya Akhtar doesn’t hire the National Award-winning actor to tick that stereotype off. Subhash’s presence in the story is integral and the character – in the most layman of terms – is totally up her alley. She blends warmth, misery and hope in a bizarrely delectable proportion. So much so that we end up empathizing with Razia a lot more than how we initially set to.

2. Sayani Gupta (Article 15)

I propose someone write a book soon entitled, ‘Just Sayani Things’. The book needs to be an ode to the wondrous ways of this gifted actor who, as if on the swish of a magic wand, delivers crackling, diverse performances, one after the other. In Anubhav Sinha’s Article 15, the actress is yet again in her elements. Playing the partner of a fugitive Dalit leader Nishad (Mohd Zeeshan Ayyub), Gaura played by Gupta is a woman of steely might. Every yell, every hurried step that she takes, add a great deal of gravitas to what is felt by the suppressed minorities in the film’s milieu. Her final scene, in particular, is one that will remain with you long after the show is over.

1. Yami Gautam (Bala)

Trust me, there is no dearth of women like Yami Gautam’s Pari in the world we live in. She is beautiful, ditzy and a local Tik-Tok sensation. She is proud of her fair skin, flowing hair and incandescent good-looks. She desires the same features in her husband. Pari’s frothiness is immensely likeable whereas her shallowness makes her equally obnoxious. That way, it is a tricky part because the character also contains a layer of humour and Gautam is mandated to pull it off without the caricaturizing Pari. Let’s give it to the actor for making her a bundle of energy, a loving girlfriend who is also an absolute crackpot. Her final confrontation with Bala (Ayushmann Khurrana) has to be one 2019’s best written and enacted scenes across categories. It might as well be the very best purely for the fact that it is incredibly hard to pull off such honesty on screen without making her character look selfish or rather foolish. Due credits to the sensational Yami Gautam thanks to whom Pari comes across as human as she could ever be.