Tillotoma Shome has been a part of the film industry for over two decades, and with each film, she has proved why she is one of the finest actors we have today.
Here’s a look at some of her most noteworthy performances over the years:
1. Monsoon Wedding
The movie that marked Shome’s film debut, Monsoon Wedding brought together an array of brilliant actors. But as the wide-eyed house help navigating the tightrope between duty and desire, who catches the fancy of the wedding decorator, Shome’s Alice still impressed.
2. Boond (Short Film)
Winner of the National Award for Best Short Fiction, Boond is an insightful drama combining society’s long history of abuse with the on-going problems of climate change and scarcity of resources. Tillotama delivered a powerful act as the oppressed widow, who by a twist of fate, has the power in her hands.
3. Nayantara’s Necklace
An expertly crafted intriguing drama that offered an insightful commentary on society’s obsession with appearances, Nayantara’s Necklace got together Tillotama Shome and Konkona Sen, and boy did they shine in their roles! Shome was the poster child of a middle-class woman, aspiring for freedom and independence but struggling with insecurities and self-doubt. Delivering a gamut of emotions in a short span of time is no mean feat, but Shome certainly delivered.
It’s a true shame that Qissa never got the attention it deserves. Not only did it boast of remarkable performances by a truly spectacular cast, but also because it took a harsh look at the evils of patriarchy. Shome played the role of a woman suffering from gender dysphoria because she’s been raised as a man by her father (the inimitable Irrfan Khan) who wanted a son. It’s truly commendable that even Irrfan Khan’s towering presence could not eclipse Shome’s brilliant portrayal, which even won her the Best Actress award at the International Film Festival of Queensland, Australia and in the New Horizons Competition at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival (ADFF).
Long before we got accustomed to Shome’s brand of brilliance, she aced a small but pivotal role of an activist for women’s rights in the international film Gangor, which was based on the Bangla short story “Choli Ke Peeche” (Behind the Bodice) by Mahasweta Devi. The film, which went on to win several international awards, showcased Shome’s ability to shine even in a limited role – something that many mainstream Hindi movies, unfortunately, relegated her to in later years.
6. Tasher Desh (The Land of the Cards)
Tillotama Shome has certainly not shied away from experimental cinema, and nothing proves that better than her role in Qaushiq Mukherjee’s fantastical drama, Tasher Desh. Q, who is known for his brand of brave but off-beat cinema, interpreted Tagore’s classical drama in a wholly unique manner, and Shome shone in her portrayal of the banished Queen!
7. A Death in the Gunj
A Death in the Gunj may have thrown the spotlight on Vikrant Massey (who played the protagonist), but Shome was easily one of the actors whose performance shone the brightest from the shadows. She perfectly represented a majority of our society, one that isn’t inherently evil but sadly, indifferent to anyone’s plight but their own.
8. Chintu Ka Birthday
In a restrained, measured performance, Tillotama Shome spoke volumes with her expressions alone, in the comedy-drama Chintu Ka Birthday. Lending an unmissable gravitas to her role of the quintessential ‘desi Indian mom’, Shome perfectly nailed each emotion, whether it was exasperation over her mother’s antics, desperation to bake a cake for her child’s birthday, or concern over her husband’s fate.
With Rohena Gera’s Sir, Shome, who plays the lead Ratna, courted widespread fame and recognition, and rightfully so. Shome artfully balanced the two worlds Ratna inhabited – the one where she was a friend, and more, to her employer, and the other, where she had to follow the arbitrary rules of society in order to achieve her dreams. A complex role that was undoubtedly enhanced by Shome’s nuanced performance, Ratna won her the Filmfare Award for Best Actress (Critics).
Talk about range!