Netflix has been knocking it out of the park with its series in 2023. It’s no secret that the shows that have premiered this year have consistently taken it up a notch! Whether it was the heart-breaking tale of Trial By Fire, the gruesome tale of ethics in Scoop, the tumultuous lives of the Class students at Hampton International or the undeniable actor duo in Kohrra, Netflix delivered on all fronts – and at the forefront of it was some of the most admirable performances – here are some of the best this year!
Rajshri Deshpande in ‘Trial By Fire’
Netflix India kicked 2023 off with the poignant retelling of the Uphaar Cinema Tragedy with Trial By Fire. Based on Neelam and Shekhar Krishnamoorthy’s book ‘Trial by Fire: The Tragic Tale of the Uphaar Fire Tragedy’, the show traces the events of June 13, 1997, in South Delhi, when the Uphaar Cinema fire tragedy took the lives of 59 people and injured a 100 others. Taking on the role of Neelam
Krishnamoorthy, Rajshri Deshpande won the hearts of audiences as she navigated the layers of tragedy and suffering that the Krishnamoorthys had to endure due to mere callous mismanagement. Her performance received critical acclaim for the complex emotions she was able to adapt and portray on screen.
Barun Sobti and Suvinder Vicky in ‘Kohrra’
In the complex drama Kohrra, set in Punjab, the exceptional performances of Suvinder Vicky and Barun Sobti as local cops Balbir and Garundi were truly remarkable. Barun Sobti shattered stereotypes with his spectacular portrayal of Garundi, showcasing his versatility as an actor and breathing life into the
character’s depth and authenticity. Meanwhile, Suvinder Vicky’s exemplary performance as Balbir delved deep, unearthing buried shame, male ego, and hidden secrets. Both actors adeptly navigated the intricate layers of their characters, allowing each emotion to be peeled away, revealing the emotional battles and the profound depth of their character storylines. In a year filled with outstanding performances, Barun Sobti and Suvinder Vicky rightfully earned their place as the ‘breakthrough’ performers, leaving an indelible mark on both viewers and the industry as a whole.
Karishma Tanna in ‘Scoop’
Scoop is the story of an accomplished female journalist who is charged with the heinous murder of her fellow journalist. Inspired by Jigna Vora’s ‘Behind Bars in Byculla: My Days in Prison’, Karishma Tanna took on the role of Jagruthi Pathak poignantly. She was able to steer the difficulties that Jigna Vora faced during her harrowing days in prison. Karishma’s ability Tanna went on to win multiple accolades for her performance, including Best Actress at the coveted Busan Film Festival’s Asia Contents Awards & Global OTT Awards.
Rana Daggubati in ‘Rana Naidu’
Rana Naidu, while the premise may appear to be a thrilling crime caper, it truly resonates as a deeply engaging family drama where every member is entangled in their own demons, long-buried tensions, and a web of lies that have woven through the years. Rana Daggubati’s portrayal of Rana Naidu, a fixer of high-profile clients, is nothing short of captivating. What sets his performance apart is his ability to balance the complexities of his profession with the intricacies of his strained family relationships. Daggubati’s charismatic presence on screen and his impeccable portrayal of Rana Naidu not only keeps the audience on the edge of their seats but also delves into the emotional nuances of his character, allowing viewers to connect with the multifaceted layers of his persona. His performance is a testament to his acting prowess, making Rana Naidu a compelling blend of crime and drama, where Rana Daggubati stands out as the driving force behind its success.
Adarsh Gourav and Gulshan Devaiah in ‘Guns & Gulaabs’
Guns & Gulaabs, Netflix India’s first collaboration with the dynamic filmmaking duo Raj & DK, delivered a groundbreaking blend of pulp, and gangster-comedy in a quaint town setting, showcasing the pair’s unique and original style. Amidst the stellar ensemble cast, it was Adarsh Gourav and Gulshan Devaiah who truly stole the spotlight. Adarsh Gourav’s portrayal of Jugnu, a multi-layered character, was
nothing short of exceptional, captivating the audience from the very start. His palpable frustration with his name, his father, and his deep affection for his special friend portrayed the emotional rollercoaster he navigated. Gourav’s performance, particularly during his sequences with his friend and wife, crackled with electricity, revealing the complexity of his character, which resonated deeply with both audiences and critics, delving into themes of gender and family dynamics. On the other hand, Gulshan Devaiah’s portrayal of Chaar Cut Aatmaram was a sheer delight, despite having less screen time than other male leads. Devaiah’s charismatic acting and the eccentric look he embraced left an indelible
mark, adding a layer of uniqueness and charm to the series that was as memorable as it was entertaining.
Cwaayal Singh and Chintan Rachchh in ‘Class’
In the enthralling high school drama Class, where wicked characters reign, Cwaayal Singh’s role as Balli truly shone. As a newcomer, his portrayal was marked by captivating vulnerability, highlighting the stark disconnection between the real and reel worlds. His character delved into critical issues of caste, class, and sexuality in India, all while being seamlessly and naturally embodied by Cwaayal. Among the cast, Balli, a wannabe influencer, stood out with his unapologetic and confident persona. His playful moments, like the ‘Balli in ciaga’ incident, left audiences in fits of laughter, cementing Cwaayal Singh’s memorable performance. On the other hand, Chintan Rachchh as Faruq Manzoor delivers an exceptional performance as Saba’s supportive brother, determined to break free from his identity as a Kashmiri Muslim. With a resolute spirit to chase his dreams, Faruq engages in a side hustle as a drug peddler, leading to an unexpected encounter with Dhruv. Their instant attraction sparks a passionate romance, yet their journey is anything but straightforward. Faruq’s character is a realist when it comes to love, acutely aware of his limitations and ready to make difficult choices to safeguard Dhruv. The love
story between these two characters is marked by a refreshing absence of fear when it comes to embracing the vulnerability and helplessness that love often entails, drawing viewers back into the show’s narrative with compelling depth.
Jimmy Shergill in ‘Choona’
Throughout eight riveting episodes, Choona invites viewers on a tumultuous journey through a world ofvengeance and upheaval, where a resilient band of underdogs unites to settle scores with the formidable politician Shukla ji. Jimmy Shergill’s portrayal of ‘Calculator Shukla’ is a masterclass in depicting a powerful figure on the brink of downfall. His performance in Choona showcases his remarkable versatility, especially in portraying complex characters woven into the intricate dynamics of love and politics. The gang of opportunists plotting against Shukla further enriches the narrative, with each member contributing their own unique talents to this captivating drama.
Sukant Goel in ‘Kaala Paani’
In the recent Netflix survival drama Kaala Paani, Sukant Goel’s role as Chiru, a tour guide in Port Blair, truly steals the show. His character’s captivating journey, torn between grappling with his family’s allegiance to the Oraka tribe, a fictional addition to the narrative, and guiding an unsuspecting vacationing family, adds a rich layer of depth to the series. Sukant Goel’s performance stands out brilliantly as he embodies the character of a Port Blair taxi operator, commanding the screen with his exceptional acting prowess. He does complete justice to this author-backed role, allowing him to navigate a wide spectrum of emotions, from the light-hearted and carefree to the intense and unsettling, thereby contributing significantly to the series’ engaging and memorable essence.
Netflix India continues to provide a stage for these talented actors to shine, celebrating their remarkable contributions to the world of entertainment. So, grab your popcorn and settle in because the Netflix India journey is far from over, with more exceptional performances waiting to be discovered.