These amazing performances showed us that the small screen has boundless potential to engage with our minds and stir our emotions. We may forget stories but we never forget a character that has moved us, tickled us or made us think deeply about life. From Scam 1992’s Harshad Mehta to Paatak Lok’s Hathi Ram – here are a few characters that made us laugh, cry and introspect.
1. Jagdeep Chadda in ‘The Office’:
Can mockumentary sitcoms like ‘The Office’ be successfully adapted to Indian sensibilities? Well, we don’t really know for sure but in our very own adaptation of this global hit, Mukul Chadda’s portrayal of the quirky manager first popularised by Ricky Gervais and then Steve Carell has been widely praised. Mukul as Jagdeep Chadda is the easily recognisable boss who is over-familiar, guffaws loudly at his own jokes and always miss personal cues as he clumsily tries to bring a vibe of good cheer in the morose work environment. Mukul effortlessly plays an affable but ultimately clueless character who is completely different from the roles he has etched in ‘Gurgaon’ and ‘Bichoo Ka Khel.’ This is an actor who continuously takes audiences by surprise and Jagdeep Chadda is truly one of his most memorable creations.
2. Abhishek Tripathi in ‘Panchayat’:
Jitendra Kumar is faultless as Abhishek Tripathi, the unhappy secretary to a Sarpanch in the series, ‘Panchayat.’ This is an engineering graduate whose dreams of a successful career and an exciting life in the city have not come to fruition. He feels frustrated that he is just an errands man but as the series progresses, we see his angst giving away to new insights. He begins to engage with the life around him even as he studies to crack the Common Admission Test (CAT). Abhishek is a nostalgic reminder of the golden era of Doordarshan when realistic and cleverly written shows like ‘Kakaji Kahin’ and ‘Malgudi Days’ told the simple stories of ‘ordinary’ Indians. And Jitendra is just the perfect actor to play the common man who wants an uncommon existence but is stuck in Phulera where even computer monitors get mistaken for televisions.
3.Harshad Mehta in ‘Scam 1992’:
This superhit series was also a breakthrough performance for actor Pratik Gandhi in the titular role. Playing the ambitious stockbroker Harshad Mehta, Pratik flawlessly lives his trajectory from a Chawl to a palatial penthouse and to a jail cell where his meteoric rise ends on a tragic note. Based on journalist Sucheta Dalal and Debashish Basu’s book ‘The Scam: Who Won, Who Lost, Who Got Away, the cautionary tale gives us an unforgettable protagonist who exists in the grey area between right and wrong and loses his way as he tries to game the banking system. Be it the true-to-life locations, the period authenticity or the background score, everything came together to give us a story and a character we won’t forget in a hurry.
4. Hathi Ram Chaudhary in ‘Paatal Lok’:
Jaideep Ahlawat as Hathi Ram Chaudhary in ‘Paatal Lok’ gives a master class in how to develop a character in detail. Everything from his walk, diction and body language cement him in our memory forever. His is a stark and realistic portrayal of a cop who is a father and a husband, a small part of a system that rarely delivers justice and finally a man on a mission who wants to find the truth, no matter what the cost. He realises that the only way to survive the system is to not be played by it and his raw physical courage and his empathy help him to unearth layers of corruption leading up to an assassination attempt on a high-profile journalist. Easily one of the best performances in recent times, Hathi Ram deserves an encore.