Kevin Spacey in Se7en: John Doe must have had all of four scenes but director David Fincher built his legend right through the film. By the time he surfaced in the police station shouting “Officer!” he was already a force to reckon with. Spacey did the rest with those cold still eyes and the emotionless speech. “The Lord works in mysterious ways.”
Naseeruddin shan in Jaane Tu... Ya Jaane Na:We had seen this device of dead person talking from the photo frame in TV serial Hum Paanch, but Naseer was a complete riot here, admonishing and advising his wife, played by real-life wife Ratna Pathak Shah, in true Rathore style. And who can forget that dance of delight when son Imran Khan rebels?
Irrfan Khan in 7 Khoon Maaf: The rumour mills insist that Wasiullah Khan’s character of a poet who beats up his wife every night was very close to a famous Bolly personality. Irrfan was so charismatic in those few scenes as Wasiullah that you skip the other husbands to watch him die. “Ek baar to yun hoga ki thoda sa sukoon hoga...”
John Huston in Chinatown: “You may think you know what you’re dealing with, but, believe me, you don’t.” John, the director of classics like The Maltese Falcon, turned Noah Cross into one of the most evil men on screen in those few scenes. What drew him to acting? “It’s a cinch... and they pay you damn near as much as you make directing,” John said.
John Turturro in The Big Lebowski: Jesus Quintana with just his three scenes has become such a talking point over the years that the Coen brothers were actually thinking of doing a sequel just on him. The look and antics for the bowler with a dubious past were mostly John’s own idea. “Nobody f**ks with the Jesus,” remember?
Rajesh Khanna in Andaz: Yes, he made it to the poster for that miniscule role. And why not? The audiences went to see him vrooming down the roads with Hema Malini in tow, lip-syncing Kishore Kumar’s Zindagi ek safar hai suhana. This Ramesh Sippy film was the last nail in the coffin of Shammi Kapoor, the star.Kaka had arrived and how!
Robi Ghosh in Jana Aranya: He’s done many a brilliant cameo in his career and several of them in Ray films but his turn as Notobor Mittir in Jana Aranya really brought the film to life. As the chicken-omelette chomping, bhajan-listening facilitator he is almost like The Wolf from Pulp Fiction. He can fix just about anything;just don’t ask how he does it.
Judi Dench in Shakespeare in Love: It was all of eight minutes and turned out to be one of the shortest screen time for an acting Oscar. When you see the Dame as Queen Elizabeth I, you believe she’s always worn the crown. “I know something of a woman in a man’s profession. Yes, by God, I do know about that.” Go Judi!
Saswata Chatterjee in Kahaani: Bob Biswas. Strike that. Binito Bob Biswas, who just needs “ek minit” of your time. According to director Sujoy Ghosh, Saswata himself added quirks to the LIC agent moonlighting as a contract killer. And what a wallop he delivered! We all have a dormant Bob Biswas in us, don’t we? “Dangerous, thik ki na?”
Tom Cruise in Tropic Thunder: The film was one helluva crazy roller-coaster but to see Tom as Les Grossman, the hairy, pot-bellied, foul-mouthed, hot-headed studio executive was like a bolt from the blue. The best part was when he grooved to the music. “Now I want you to take a step back... and literally f**k your own face!” ROFLOL!!
Sunny Deol in Damini: Rishi Kapoor was the hero. Aamir Khan the item boy. But Deol da puttar thundered his way into and then just talked away with the film! As the alcoholic lawyer Govind, Rajkumar Santoshi’s angry man with “dhaai kilo ka haath” delivered one dhaasu dialogue after the other. “Taareekh pe taareekh...” How relevant 20 years later.
Amitabh Bachchan in Chupke Chupke: In a Dharmendra film, he came, he quacked, he quaked, he conquered. Contrary to his “angry young man” avatar, AB the English teacher was howlarious as the spectacle-adjusting impersonator Professor Sukumar Sinha who didn’t know the B of Botany. “Corolla khane mein kadva hota hai par liver ke liye bahut achha hota hai!”
Christopher Walken in Pulp Fiction: In Quentin Tarantino’s script it was a four-page monologue and members of the cast were worried how it would be pulled off on screen. But then in walked Walken as Captain Koons, the man who delivered the watch to young Butch. And the rest was movie history. That one speech set up the importance of the watch and that chapter.
Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross: In a film which featured everyone from Al Pacino to Jack Lemmon, Kevin Spacey to Ed Harris, it took our man Alec seven minutes to demolish the rest of the cast. As the motor-mouthed motivator Blake, he was explosive! “First prize is a Cadillac Eldorado. Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is you’re fired.”
Michael Caine in Nolan’s Batman films: In the middle of all the murderous mayhem of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy, Caine’s Alfred is like a sight for sore eyes. He is like the conscience of the three movies, Bruce Wayne’s bouncing board and his protector of all things good. If there’s one man who could make you cry in a Batman movie, look no further than him.