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Rewind 2018: The 10 Best Performances in Marathi cinema this year

From child artiste Shrinivas Pokale to top star Sonali Kulkarni and Subodh Bhave, the year saw a wide range of quality performances. 

Keyur Seta

Marathi cinema, like other regional cinemas in India, is known for exploring creative, out-of-the-box subjects. Although there are duds being made every year, they get overshadowed, thankfully, by some meaningful, mature films.

This was exactly the case in 2018 too, especially towards the end of the year.

But creative subjects cannot be tackled without impressive performances and this is exactly what a bunch of artistes provided this year.

So, here are Cinestaan’s Top 10 performances from Marathi cinema in 2018, in ascending order. Read on.

10. Swanand Kirkire in Chumbak

Swanand Kirkire has been an acclaimed lyricist, singer and music composer for close to two decades. In between, he has also acted, playing supporting characters. With Sandeep Modi’s Chumbak, he marked his place as a powerful lead actor as well.

Kirkire excelled while playing the difficult character of a mentally retarded man. He had to act like a child in terms of displaying his innocence as he goes through a range of emotions. It won't be a surprise if Kirkire is now taken more seriously as an actor.

9. Sumeet Raghvan in Aani... Dr Kashinath Ghanekar

While Subodh Bhave had the tough task of playing the titular character in Aani... Dr Kashinath Ghanekar, Sumeet Raghvan’s task was no less daunting as he had to play someone like Dr Shriram Lagoo, who is still alive and fresh in people’s memories. The actor put forth a sensible and mature performance without trying to mimic Dr Lagoo. The high point of Sumeet's act was the scene in which he tries hard to maintain his cool when Ghanekar disrupts his stage performance.

8. Shashank Shende in Redu

Like Chhaya Kadam, his co-star, Shashank Shende had to appear just like any other ordinary chap from a poor Konkan village. The actor worked on his diction since he wasn’t familiar with the accent. Not just that, he stayed in a Konkan village for some time to understand the people so that he could get into the skin of the character. His efforts paid huge dividends which were visible in this film. You tend to forget that Shende was only portraying a character from the region. His act in the climax was moving.

7. Chhaya Kadam in Nude

Over the past few years, Chhaya Kadam has turned in some powerful performances in supporting roles. The year 2018 has been the best for her so far in terms of getting noticed and becoming popular with cine-goers. In Nude, Kadam was convincing as a bold, strong woman from an urban slum who lives life on her own terms. To all external appearances, she does a janitor's job in an art college for a living, but actually she is the college's only nude model. Her uncompromising act eventually inspires Kalyanee Mulay’s character to follow her path.

Redu saw Kadam in a completely rural avatar, as just another poor woman living in a small Konkan village. She was convincing in that film as well.

Apart from these two, Kadam gave an impressive performance in Sriram Raghavan’s Hindi dark drama Andhadhun. 

6. Sonali Kulkarni in Gulabjaam

Sonali Kulkarni is one of the best artistes and top female stars in Marathi cinema currently. She has achieved this position by consistently giving quality performances over the years. She proved her mettle yet again in Sachin Kundalkar’s Gulabjaam, which saw one of her best performances in recent years. Her character, Radha Agarkar, goes through varied emotions and states of mind and it needed someone with Kulkarni's range to pull it off. The organic manner in which Adarkar's journey from angry, disturbed woman to a soft-hearted person takes place was testament to Kulkarni's prowess.

5. Kalyanee Mulay in Nude

Ravi Jadhav’s Nude required Kalyanee Mulay to pull off bold scenes as a nude model in an art college while, at the same time, displaying a diffident attitude outside. Mulay displayed rare poise and confidence in the nude scenes even as she portrayed her character's vulnerability and soft, sacrificing nature in her personal life. You could not help but feel for her character's plight or support her choices. This, incidentally, was the first time Mulay got a chance to play the main lead in a film and she grabbed it with both hands.

4. Chittaranjan Giri in Lathe Joshi

Chittaranjan Giri played a character who is going through great inner turmoil in the Mangesh Joshi directorial. Expert lathe operator Joshi has a lot to say about the unhappiness and frustration of his world. However, he hardly speaks about his condition, simply because he has no hope left in a world that is changing rapidly, leaving him behind. Giri got the tone of the character perfectly and portrayed every shade of the character to perfection, mostly through expressions.

2. Subodh Bhave in Aani... Dr Kashinath Ghanekar and Om Bhutkar in Mulshi Pattern

Subodh Bhave has said that playing Dr Kashinath Ghanekar was the biggest challenge for him. The actor took up the challenge and how! Bhave literally lived the character of the popular actor of the 1960s and 1970s, portraying his various emotions and states of mind with finesse. It was his act that ensured that the story of a prompter who became a star of the Marathi stage and cinema, only to become a victim of his own arrogance, was convincing. Easily one of his best performances ever.

Before Mulshi Pattern, Om Bhutkar, like Kalyanee Mulay, had only played supporting parts, though with conviction. He got the chance to play the main lead for the first time in the Pravin Tarde directorial, a film in which he is present in almost every scene, and he lived and breathed every action and emotion of a character forced by circumstances to enter the murky world of crime. Bhutkar's entry in the film, from behind a poster that gets torn, was quite symbolic of his own arrival as a powerful performer in Marathi cinema.

Honorable mentions: Before we move to the best performance of the year, let us take a look at some performances that, on another occasion, might well have featured in the top 10 list.

Priya Bapat in Aamhi Doghi

First-time director Pratima Joshi’s Aamhi Doghi saw Priya Bapat play a character that goes from schoolgirl to a woman in her early 30s. The actress was convincing, especially while playing the difficult part of a schoolgirl.

Mukta Barve in Aamhi Doghi

Mukta Barve, with her distinctive voice, is known for playing characters that are good speakers. But Aamhi Doghi required her to play someone who isn’t vocal, especially in the second half. Barve was up to the challenge, speaking mostly with her expressions. 

Maithili Patwardhan in Pipsi 

Maithili Patwardhan, though a mere child, was more than a match for the grown-ups in Pipsi. Her performance in first-timer Rohan Deshpande’s directorial was simply a treat to watch, with her perfect dialogue delivery, expressions and body language. 

1. Shrinivas Pokale in Naal

The year saw some of the finest artistes from Marathi cinema displaying their skills. But the person who stole everyone’s hearts was this child artiste from Sudhakar Reddy Yakkanti’s Naal. Shrinivas Pokale deserves a long round of applause for pulling off such a challenging role in his very first film. He was a pleasant surprise with his acting skills combined with oodles of cuteness. The scene in which he pleads with his mother (Devika Daftardar) to let him go and play itself was worthy of the price of the ticket.

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Year in review