MUMBAI—As in every year, we had newcomers galore on screen in 2017.

Debuts only in Hindi films:

The South gave us three new faces, all in flop movies. Padmapriya (Janakiraman) made a mark in “Chef” as Saif Ali Khan’s estranged wife (she had made a cameo in “Strikr” some years ago). Here was someone completely natural. Saucier and more conventional was Malayalam actress Parvathy Thiruvothu in “Qareeb Qareeb Singlle” – a redoubtable actress too, who held her opposite, Irrfan Khan. Interestingly, the first two had families from Army backgrounds and schooled in Kendriya Vidhyalaya, speaking chaste Hindi.

Last but not the least was Malayalam actress Mrudula Murali, who sparkled in a small but intense role in “Raag Desh.”

From China, came Zhu Zhu, the female lead in “Tubelight” (she had nothing to do really) and from Pakistan came Mahira Khan in “Raees” (disappointing), Saba Qamar in “Hindi Medium” (good) and Sajal Ali in “Mom” as Sridevi’s daughter (nice). Sajjad Delafrooz from Iran was an effective villain in “Tiger Zinda Hai.”

All these varied talents were new into Hindi films alone.

Child artiste Matin Rey Tangu, all of 10, was good in “Tubelight.” So was Khushmeet Gill in “Sniff,” as a young Sardarji whose sense of smell is lost. But the true scene-stealer was Svar Kamble in that showcase of histrionics, “Chef.” And topping the list among girls was Aditi Inamdar in and as “Poorna,” the real-life Adivasi girl who climbed Mount Everest at 13/

Ashish Bisht in “Shab” and Plabita Borthakur in “Lipstick Under My Burqa” showed good potential in these pointless movies. But in the equally pointless “Machine,” Mustafa Burmawala was a calamity indeed.

In Yash Raj Films’ lowest grosser ever, “Qaidi Band,” Anya Singh popped out as a standout actress who deserved better, completely overshadowing Kapoor family co-star Aadar Jain. Jain, though, was quite good. Monica Gill put in a sweet turn in the misfired “Firangi,” And we liked the promise shown by Tripti Dimri and Samiksha Bhatnagar in “Poster Boys.” Nidhhi Agerwal in “Munna Michael” is a dream dancer and a commercial package. She can go great guns if she works hard – at both her work and in the selection of films!

“Raag Desh” was a good film that was destined to go unnoticed due to varied but valid reasons. Mohit Marwah was the best of the three leading men – Marwah is related to Anil Kapoor and clan.

Off-screen, the only director who made a true mark was Shree Narayan Singh with “Toilet: Ek Prem Katha.” R.S. Prasanna, who directed “Shubh Mangal Saavdhan” was a debut maker only in Hindi films. Also good was Advait Chandan (“Secret Superstar”) and Suresh Triveni did connect to an extent with “Tumhari Sulu.” Konkona Sen Sharma did a fair job of “Death In The Gunj” and Ravi Udyawar with “Mom.” Shreyas Talpade’s work in “Poster Boys” went unrewarded. The rest of the newcomers did not matter.

Finally, in the music fraternity, there was no new arrival that mattered: singer, composer or lyricist.

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