While Netflix has had more misses than hits when it comes to its original Hindi movies, it has almost always managed to nail the star cast. Then be it Alankrita Shrivastav's less-than-brilliant drama Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare or the 2021 romantic thriller, Haseen Dillruba.
In both these movies, and many others released recently, the one actor whose performance left me consistently impressed, was Vikrant Massey.
In Dolly Kitty, Vikrant Massey plays the role of Pradeep, one of Kitty's (Bhumi Pednekar) 'clients' at the phone-sex company she works for.
She falls in love with him for real and he becomes her first sexual partner. However, he also becomes her first heartbreak, unfortunately offering her a long, hard look at how cruel life can be.
It maybe Kitty's story, but it's Massey who steals your attention every time he appears on-screen.
Massey delivers even the cheesy lines with such natural ease and conviction that instead of scoffing, you end up smiling at them.
Similarly, when he is caught lying to Kitty, Bhumi's hurt his well-expressed, but Massey's sense of shame and fear feels more real.
In the end, Kitty has forgotten both, his love and his dismal lovemaking and is unswayed by his apparent transformation.
But he leaves such an impact on-screen, that you want to see more of him - even though, he is but a 'supporting' character in Kitty's story!
Much like in Dolly Kitty, Massey was one of Rani's (Taapsee Pannu) two love interests in Haseen Dillruba. And as the movie meandered through a confusing plotline and forced twists, it was Massey who continued to haul back my wandering attention - a feat he also delivered in the underwhelming romantic comedy, Ginny Weds Sunny.
Each time I am left thoroughly surprised by how effortlessly Massey hooks my interest, even in the face of a lacklustre storyline. Then again, perhaps my surprise depicts my own short-sightedness because if you had to describe Massey's filmography in one word, it would have to be, versatile.
I remember watching Massey convince me he was a curmudgeon astronaut demon, who was also a stickler for rules and suffering from loneliness and a broken heart. The film was Netflix's Cargo.
Prior to that, he was Arjun Mathur's long-lost lover in Made in Heaven, Ali Fazal's brother with the brains in Mirzapur, and Deepika's prickly love interest and crusader-for-justice in Chhapaak.
And I distinctly remember each of his roles, not only because he was undoubtedly memorable, but also because no two characters were alike - neither on paper, nor in performance.
Of course, to date, A Death In The Gunj remains his most striking performance. As Shutu, his haunting despair, his traumatizing experience of indifference, and his tragic end still leave me shuddering.
But since then, Massey has proved time after time, that he is industry's latest dependable star. Simply put, no matter the role, he's the man for it.
To me, it appears that Massey belongs to that rare category of actors who truly live for their characters. Like every actor, there may be tools of the trade that he depends on and techniques that a technical reviewer might be able to break down.
But, charmed as I am by his performances, I'd rather not know the secret behind the magic trick.
As an avid movie-lover, Massey has become an actor who will always catch my attention - even if he is standing, out-of-focus, in the background. Because, scene-stealers like him, shine even without the spotlight!