MUMBAI — They were not exactly at the top in cinema, or had taken a small sabbatical. With streaming platforms constantly launching interesting shows, what is interesting is that many have big names from among stars who made a memorable foray into this zone, some as good as coming back with a bang with principal and meaty roles. The process can be said to have begun with Vivek Oberoi in the 2017 “Inside Edge,” followed by R. Madhavan in Amazon’s “Breathe” and Saif Ali Khan in “Sacred Games” both in 2018, moving on to Jackie Shroff in last year’s “Criminal Justice.”
But 2020 has already seen 11 examples.
Sushmita Sen in “Aarya”
As they say, better late than never, and this is exactly what viewers felt while watching Sushmita Sen on-screen almost after a decade. This former Miss Universe, who had made her debut 24 years back with Mahesh Bhatt’s “Dastak,” returned with a bang with Disney + Hotstar’s web series “Aarya,” a thriller in which Sen played Aarya, an affectionate wife and a doting mother to three kids. The actress owned every scene in the series and gave one of her finest performances. And of course a second season is on the cards, probably to be shot in New Zealand.
Karishma Kapoor in “Mentalhood”
The actress who ruled millions of hearts in the 1990s proved that she still is a queen of hearts. Karishma Kapoor made her OTT debut with ALTBalaji’s and ZEE5’s “Mentalhood.” She played the character of Meira Sharma. A counselor to her child who is bullied in school, a comforting mother to her teenage daughter’s struggles, a loving wife, a dedicated daughter-in-law and a devoted friend, she essayed her role of a small-town woman in a big city with conviction.
Abhishek Bachchan in “Breathe 2: into the Shadows”
Amazon Prime’s latest original marks the small-screen debut of Abhishek Bachchan 20 years after his father did “Kaun Banega Crorepati” for television, as the first big name on the small screen ever. Bachchan Jr. played the role of Dr. Avinash Sabharwal who enters a dark world to bring back his kidnapped daughter, Siya. The actor was applauded for his complex role.
Lara Dutta in “Hundred”
Another Miss Universe entered the digital space through Disney+Hotstar’s “Hundred.” Lara Dutta played Saumya Shukla, a cop who is always in search of opportunities to prove her worth. It gets frustrating for her to be never given an opportunity to prove herself as all the big cases and promotions go to her male counterparts. Dutta gave a stellar performance as the simple and later defiant cop. Season 2 will come too.
Sharman Joshi in “Baarish”
Sharman Joshi has time and again showcased his acting skills. After setting his small place in cinema, this talented actor made a debut on OTT through ALTBalaji and ZEE5’s “Baarish.” He played the role of Anuj, a businessman, a simple yet responsible person, in his love story with Gauravi (Asha Negi). Joshi was applauded again and the show became quite popular.
Chunky Pandey in “Abhay 2”
Unlike the stars above, Chunky Pandey has created a sensational with the trailer itself: his debut series ZEE5’s “Abhay 2: The Road to Justice” premieres August 14 and promises to be an unpredictable crime thriller that will feature an array of villains. Pandey is one of them and his video created a lot of buzz among media and fans. The premise of his character is that everyone has three faces – one that people around him can see in the day, another that his family can see come evening, and the third one that only he can see and which he hides from everyone else, which is that of a killer.
Arshad Warsi in “Asur: Welcome to the Dark Side”
If you ever wanted to see the serious and intense side of Circuit, Voot Select’s “Asur: Welcome to your Dark Side” was the perfect vehicle. Arshad Warsi, the comic ace, who has also been a short film actor, wowed us with his brilliance in this dark and psychological thriller.
Jimmy Sheirgill in “Your Honor”
He has performed both positive and negative lead and character roles with perfection for about 15 years now. In SonyLIV’s “Your Honor,” he played a reputed judge at the moral crossroads of his life with a rare panache.
Arjun Rampal in “The Final Call”
The series was a disaster, but Arjun Rampal impressed with his sincere intensity. The actor made his digital debut in a fare that was esoteric, but managed to show his natural skill even in the weak script.
Manoj Bajpayee in “The Family Man”
The actor who claims to have survived two decades on maximum flops had a hit in “The Family Man.” Manoj Bajpayee played a normal middle-class husband and father at home, and an espionage agent at work. He bridged the two sides well. Season 2 is on.
Emraan Hashmi in “Bard of Blood”
This was Emraan Hashmi’s debut as an Indian spy in the Shah Rukh Khan home production “Bard of Blood.” The actor did well, even if the script did not match up.