For a long time, the Indian film industry and the television industry have been in two different leagues. While Bollywood has been making waves globally with its content, our television industry has refused to reinvent itself and remained stuck to the same melodrama which we have been watching for years. Thankfully, the introduction of Indian web series in the country brought about a fresh wave of new and innovative content. Creators are not shying away from trying to think and create content that is out of the box. The biggest motivating factor in this is the lack of censorship.
The battle of creators with the censors has been going on since ages. While the creators feel that their content is actually putting a mirror on the things that are happening in our society, the censors think otherwise. With the lack of censorship, creators on the webspace are now free to present their story the way they actually want to. While the web space in the country is still relatively young, we have got enough glimpses of the potential of the content which we are able to produce. So, we list down some of our favorite Indian web series that you definitely must check out. Read on...
Set in the 1920s, Stories by Rabindranath Tagore is a representation of short stories by the Bengali writer and Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore. A standout factor of Tagore’s literary work is that he mainly focused on relationships that were tainted by the shortcomings and idiosyncrasies of human nature. Another interesting fact is that female characters were more often than not the protagonists in these tales. He depicted women as a strong and dynamic figure in his stories which differs from the conservative mindset that existed in the country at the time. While each story has a different concept, the feel of that era has been captured well in almost every story. The web series features a bunch of talented actors like Radhika Apte, Sumeet Vyas, Rohan Shah and Amrita Puri amongst others.
Even though cricket is extremely popular in India, Bollywood films based on the sport didn’t seem attractive enough to the audience for some reason. Yes, there are exceptions like Lagaan and Iqbal which impressed many, but overall the response to films based on this sport is rather underwhelming.
Selection Day brings a change to that trend as it was extremely well received online and managed to gain widespread popularity. The Indian web series revolves around two brothers and their father’s obsession towards making them India’s next cricket stars. While they do enjoy the sport and are passionate about it, their father’s unhealthy attitude in pushing them towards their goal affects them to a great extent. The Indian web series includes a talented cast of Mohammad Samad, Yash Dholye, Karanvir Malhotra, Rajesh Tailang, Mahesh Manjrekar, Ratna Pathak Shah, Shiv Panditt, Parul Gulati and Akshay Oberoi.
IPL over the years has transformed itself into the biggest domestic cricket tournament in the world. Massive player fees, packed stadiums and the inclusion of Bollywood, what’s not there to like about this cricket extravaganza? But, while we’ve only been treated with the action on the pitch, this web series takes us into what goes on off it.
In the eight-part documentary series, we go through the IPL team Mumbai Indian’s road to victory. Each episode is 40 minutes long and with each episode, you learn a little better about what goes into the making of a high profile IPL team. Shot inside dressing rooms, hotel rooms, conference rooms, through team meetings and net sessions, this documentary really makes you feel a part of the Mumbai Indians squad. While we’ve seen many documentaries like these covering teams from sports like football, rugby, basketball, and baseball, this was a first for a cricket team. Even though it’s slightly hampered with a weak background score and patchy edit in places, it surely will be a delight to watch for any cricket fan.
After a few disappointing ventures, it seems like Netflix was losing out on the interest of the Indian audience. However, after watching this web series we can safely conclude that they’re back in the game. Creators Trishant Srivastava and Nishank Verma and director Soumendra Padhi present a gripping story based on a group of boys from Jamtara running a highly lucrative phishing scam. These activities are planned and executed mainly by two cousins - Sunny (Sparsh Shrivastav) and Rocky (Anshumaan Pushkar). While Sunny enters into it for the money, Rocky’s obsession lies in power. A cast of mainly fresh faces embrace their roles and manage to do a brilliant job in portraying their different characters. This Indian web series is in fact inspired by true events as Jamtara has over the years turned into a hub of sorts for phishing India. They also portray the impact of aspiration, greed, wealth and power has on a person. Jamtara stands somewhere between the Anurag Kashyap and Tigmanshu Dhulia universe. Recently, we’ve seen many Indian web series try out the rural gang mafia but Jamtara is one series that manages to execute it perfectly. Director Soumendra gets full credit for crafting an exciting story filled with twists and turns in each episode.
20 years ago, the entire nation went in a state of shock when they learned about the encounter of a notorious criminal. But, that feeling came not because of UP Police Force’s success in finishing a criminal but when they learned about the kind of life he led. Rangbaaz is a web series based on the life of the infamous criminal Shree Prakash Shukla which is changed to Shiv Prakash Shukla in the series. The story begins in 1992, with a naive twenty-year-old Shiv Prakash (Saqib Saleem) is shown to be happy in his simple life. Things take a turn when an eve teaser dares to harass his sister and ends up getting killed by the hands of Shukla. A local politician Ram Shankar Tiwari (Tigmanshu Dhulia) takes full advantage of the situation and sends Shukla to Thailand making him assume that he’s protecting him from an imminent arrest. Later on, Shukla feels obligated to return the favour and begins working as Tiwari’s henchman. Once Shukla enters the world of crime, he’s unstoppable. He manages to constantly leave the UP police clueless about his actions with the help of shrewd planning. And as he gains more and more power, it all gets to his head. In fact, he literally begins to enjoy pumping bullets into the victims. A few shots are never enough for him as he goes onto empty an entire round of bullets into almost lifeless bodies. Eventually, Shukla becomes too big for his own shoes and goes against the very people who introduced him to the underworld. The web series does full justice to the character transformation of Shukla from being a simpleton to the most wanted man in India. A special mention must be given to Saqib Saleem, who delivers possibly his career-best performance with this one. He gets into the skin of his character of the dead gangster and delivers a terrific performance.
Produced by: Netflix
Streaming on: Netflix
Director: Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane
When the first scene in the show is of a dog falling from the height of a skyscraper, you know that this Indian web series isn’t going for subtlety. In fact, it’s the level of brutality the marks the cornerstone of this web series. Sacred Games was the first web series produced by Netflix in India and with a duo of talented directors like Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane pulling the strings, people naturally expected big things. Since it is Netflix, obviously they weren’t holding back as along with getting ace directors on-board, they also went all out with the casting of this Indian web series. Having stars like Saif Ali Khan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Radhika Apte is an Indian web series that proves that even Bollywood stars are realising the massive potential of the platform.
This Indian web series is based on Vikram Chandra’s 2006 novel of the same title. While the storyline won’t be termed as extraordinary, it is the visual craftsmanship of the directors that distinguishes Sacred Games from following the footsteps of other crime dramas. The acting by the cast too is absolutely spot on. Saif Ali Khan is convincing as a Sikh police officer and even nails his Punjabi accent while he is at it. It seems that playing a ruthless gangster can come to Nawaz even in his sleep as like his past performances he fits this role like a glove. Radhika Apte delivers an impactful performance as a RAW agent. Another standout performance in the Indian web series is by Kubra Sait, who plays a transgender singer and dancer Kukoo. She mesmerises the audience and Gaitonde.
Produced by: Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhawani
Streaming on: Amazon Prime
Director: Karan Anshuman, Gurmeet Singh, and Mihir Desai
Mirzapur is a typical gang war drama in which people are ready to go to any extent for securing power. Right from the first scene itself, this Indian web series establishes the world you’re in. This seemingly lawless land is ruled by Akhanda Tripathi aka Kaleen Bhaiya (Pankaj Tripathi). Carrying out a carpet business as a cover, Kaleen Bhaiya carries out every illegal activity imaginable like dealing in desi kattas (guns), drugs and blackmail to name a few. His son Munna, played by Divyendu Sharma, is extremely hungry for power and wishes to take over control from his father as soon as possible. In walk two brothers – Guddu (Ali Fazal) and Bablu Pandit (Vikrant Massey), who join Kaleen’s business activities as they catch his attention thanks to their impressive hustling skills. This doesn’t sit too well with Munna as he considers them to be an obstacle in his way of securing power.
Even though the plot in this Indian web series is wafer-thin, the exceptional performances by the cast of the show prove to be the saving grace. Pankaj Tripathi absolutely nails his act as the local don. Be it his nuances, mannerism or the way he delivers lines, it"s hard to not be in awe of him. Vikrant Massey is his usual reliable self as he delivers an impressive performance. Ali Fazal does a commendable job as an all brawn and no brain. Divyendu Sharma, however, comes as the surprise package with his portrayal of Munna in the Indian web series. It"s good to see him play an extremely negative character for the first time and nail it.
Produced by: The Viral Fever
Streaming on: Netflix
Director: Sameer Saxena
“Summer is a festival, not a season.” declares a 13-year-old Harshu (Vishesh Bansal) - an average boy from an average family. Within a few minutes of the Indian web series, the message is very clear.
TVF wants you to go on a nostalgia ride through their Indian web series. The Indian web series is filled with elements of nostalgia like hearing cricket commentary on the radio, talking on cordless phones while drinking Rooh Afza, phantom cigarettes, and WWF trump cards.
In fact, all that’s missing is a dial-up connection and Yahoo chatrooms. The web series revolves around the events that occur during the summer in a family of five. Many shows tend to suffer from nostalgia.
They compensate for a lack of originality by serving a glorified throwback of the good old days. However, Yeh Meri Family has enough substance in it along with providing a healthy dose of nostalgia.
Produced by: Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani
Streaming on: Netflix
Director: Nitya Mehra, Zoya Akhtar, Prashant Nair, and Alankrita Shrivastava
Close to two months ago, Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti delivered one of the best Hindi films in recent times - Gully Boy. The film had a lot going for itself like stellar acting and great music. However, it: biggest strength was that it stayed away from the stereotypes that are a given for films ‘made in Bollywood’. And this thought is reapplied in Zoya and Reema’s next venture, Made In Heaven. This Indian web series follows the life of two Indian wedding designers.
These two, and the brides and grooms they are serving, often lie to get their way. But, like most of us who also lie, cheat or deceive to get by in life, they do not always get away with things and are unable to find closure. Again, much like in real life, the Indian web series shows us the deep dark truth behind the seemingly perfect face of the rich Delhi wedding scene.
Produced by: Dice Media
Streaming on: Netflix
Director: Ruchir Arun
This cute little Indian web series based on the life of a couple in a relationship won the hearts of people ever since it was released online. The realistic and refreshing take on love blooming between two youngsters over little things in the big city of Mumbai is probably the biggest selling point of the show. The Indian web series recently concluded its second season.
In the second season, we find the protagonists to be in a much different position than the first. Dhruv has quit his job as a Data Analyst at a startup, while Kavya is making leaps and bounds of progress at her new job. The Indian web series explores this power imbalance within the couple without over-dramatizing their situation. The thing that works best for the Indian web series is the lead couple’s effortless chemistry.
The simplicity and ease with which the lead pair play their parts are truly commendable. The show is realistic in the way it portrays love.
It celebrates the imperfections of love and life, and it shows us exactly what happens when two real people fall in love and decide to go for it. It’s messy, it’s imperfect, but, at the end of the day, it is all worth it.
Director: Mayank Sharma
Producers: Nidhi Agarwal and Shivaji Dasgupta
Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video
Cast: R. Madhavan, Amit Sadh, and Sapna Pabbi
This Amazon web series is probably India’s answer to Breaking Bad. The supremely talented R. Madhavan plays the role of Danny Mascarenhas, who probably should be awarded the title of Father of the year. In Breaking Bad, we see the lead character discovering that he’s not got much time to live which forces him on a path that he never thought he would end up on. In Breathe, we see Madhavan pull off some crazy acts in order to save his only son Josh, who has 6 months to live. Josh is in urgent need of a lung transplant which is his only hope to live. However, the problem is that he’s fourth on the transplant receiver’s list. While the number might not seem that bad to others, try explaining it to a father who considers his child to be his world.
Seeing the hope of his son surviving grow dim by the day, Danny creates his kill list of organ donors who rank above his son on the list. Amit Sadh, on the other hand, plays his nemesis Inspector Kabir Sawant who has his own share of demons to battle with. He lost his daughter to a gunshot wound because he forgot to lock his gun and that incident also put an end to his marriage. He now tries to get over the guilt of his actions with the help of alcohol.
While the two leads and the supporting cast put in a great performance, one cannot argue over the fact that the show belongs to Madhavan. The actor loses himself in the character of a doting dad turned criminal. Whether he’s planning a murder in an empty warehouse with only a stray dog for his company or his one-sided conversation with the grave of his wife, Madhavan really ‘breathes’ life into this show.
The show is all set to return with season 2 which will continue on the same path. Fans are excited to see what the makers have in store for them in the next season. The new season will star Abhishek Bachchan in a prominent role.
Director: Richie Mehta
Producers: Robert Friedland, Brian Kornreich, and Sidney Kimmel
Streaming on: Netflix
Cast: Shefali Shah, Rajesh Tailang and Rasika Dugal
The Nirbhaya rape case was an incident that shook the entire nation. Several years have passed since the tragedy but the people of the country have still not forgotten. It was a crime that made headlines across the world, and as detail after shocking detail of the case got out, it left us stunned with the horror of it all. So while many web series focused on the incident and what were the factors that drove the culprits towards such a heinous act, Netflix puts light on how the Delhi Police went about the job of catching the criminals during the fragile political conditions.
We all know that the criminals were arrested within the matter of days of the incident but what we were not aware of is how meticulously the task force at the Delhi police worked for this to happen. The 7-episode series details the stellar efforts on the part of the Delhi police in nabbing the men behind the act. The star of the show has to be Shefali Shah. Her character refuses to let gender get in the way of her duty and strays away from falling into the pit of police politics.
If nothing else, watching this series will make you truly appreciate the efforts of policemen in our country. Being a police officer in a country like India is truly a thankless job. Despite being relentless at work for hours at stretch, they’re treated as a virus filled with corruption. All in all Delhi crime is a fascinating watch, one that grips your heart and never lets go till the very.