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Friday, April 23, 2021

Ahead of Pagglait, revisiting Sanya Malhotra’s short and sprightly filmography that holds great promise

In her short career, Sanya Malhotra has been seen in a variety of movies -- from the small, indie films to big blockbusters like Dangal and Badhaai Ho.

Written by Anvita Singh | New Delhi |
March 24, 2021 8:10:41 am
sanya malhotraSanya Malhotra will next be seen in Netflix movie Pagglait. (Photo: Instagram/Sanya Malhotra)

Only six films old, Sanya Malhotra seems like the kind of actor who has been in the industry for a lot longer than her half-a-decade old filmography. Her mature choices as an artiste reflect in her films — grounded, solid and believable.

While Dangal (2016) didn’t feature her a lot, it certainly seemed to have opened up avenues for her where the actor could show her potential. Sanya then broke ground and won over critics by playing the aggressive yet funny Chuttki Kumari in Vishal Bhardwaj’s Pataakha in 2018.

sanya malhotra in photograph Sanya Malhotra in a still from Ritesh Batra’s Photograph. (Photo: Amazon Studios)

In the same year, Sanya featured in another blockbuster, the acclaimed family entertainer Badhaai Ho, helmed by Amit Ravindernath Sharma. Of course, the movie belonged to Gajraj Rao, Neena Gupta and Surekha Sikri. But the rest of the cast, including Ayushmann Khurrana, Sanya Malhotra and Sheeba Chaddha did a credible job as well. But it was in Ritesh Batra’s 2019 film Photograph that Sanya Malhotra really caught audience’s attention. Quiet, withdrawn but still so expressive despite all the stillness within and around her. The movie featured her alongside Nawazuddin Siddiqui, where the former was seen playing a grade A student, and Nawaz, a street photographer. Sanya, who is usually seen as the bubbly girl-next-door, the quintessential sunshine girl, also thanks to her playful Instagram photos and videos and her general attitude during interviews, seems to have gone inside a deep well of her own self to find the kind of expressive silence that her character Miloni had in Photograph.

Not only did Sanya hold her own against someone like Nawazuddin, the actor even managed to outshine him in multiple sequences. And then came the weird, mostly awful ride that was 2020, where Sanya Malhotra had two releases — Shakuntala Devi and Ludo. The actor’s wig was certainly a distraction in the Vidya Balan movie, but in Ludo, Sanya was fresh, vibrant and near-pitch perfect. She played the slightly confused, modern woman with elegance, and her chemistry with Aditya Roy Kapur flowed like water.

While no film she has appeared in has shown her as the typical, ‘masala’ heroine, the actor had admitted in an earlier interview with indianexpress.com that if given such a script, she would have no qualms playing one. “I grew up watching those films. I would love to do one someday. It is those films that pushed me to become an actor. The definition of a masala film is changing every day, and the content is the hero today. And I am glad things have changed. It is an exciting time to be an actor. But if I get a full-blown masala movie, I would love to dance in it,” the actor had said ahead of Ludo’s release.

In 2021, Sanya Malhotra has three releases due — Netflix’s Pagglait, the romantic dramedy Meenakshi Sundereshwar and Red Chillies’ Love Hostel. An interesting, mixed bag. But none seem like the kinds that would see the talented artiste in a full-blown ‘masala’ avatar. Maybe, in the near future?

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