The desire to venture into a fictional world that absolutely enraptures us would not be an irrational one in the post-COVID world. But, before you get into the fascinating world of Indian web series, let’s look into the dynamics of the digital scene in the country.
Well, we are not alien to the fact that The Viral Fever has been making some real strides in the web series category of digital content production. Right from the time, it broke the internet with series like Pitchers, Permanent Roommates up until now, this one production company’s graph has only spiralled upwards with respect to the quality as well as the quantity of the stories they tell.
Even before major series like Sacred Games attained popularity, TVF had been producing indigenously based content centered around modern Indian romantic as well as family relationships alike. Tapping into the unexplored and the overdone with equal sensitivity, the shows are a result of thorough and well-formulated storytelling. So, don’t be alarmed if there are too many of their shows on this list. They’ve earned it!
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Coming to 2020, it’s been a year of decent releases, right from Panchayat to Paatal Lok. And we can barely await what’s in store for the rest of the year. While Amazon Prime is lined up with shows like Dilli (featuring Saif Ali Khan) and Gormint written by Gursimran Khamba (of AIB), Netflix has interesting titles like Mira Nair’s A Suitable Boy (coming in October to India) and Bombay Begums, directed by Alankrita Shrivastava (of Lipstick Under My Burkha) and Bornila Chatterjee.
With so much in store, we are sure you won’t run out of options. But if you’re new here, we’re here to help you! Here are some of the best Indian web series streaming right now across OTTs: Amazon Prime, Netflix, TVFPlay, SonyLiv:
Must Watch Indian Web Series
1. Kota Factory – TVF Play
A TVF Classic, Kota Factory is a fine portrayal of the trials and tribulations that the students who come to reside in the city of Kota face. Aspiring to build careers in the field of the sciences, these students who have left their families in order to work towards a seemingly better life, are met with the cruelties that an alien city throws at them. Narrating to us, the black and white lives of these characters, who live intricately webbed existences, this is a series that inspires in an offbeat way, without seeming obvious. Deriving elements from the realities of the city, the series thrives on Kota as a character and goes on to utilize all those possibilities inherent in the spaces of Kota. Overall, it is a must watch. Jitendra Kumar as Jeetu bhaiya delivers a fantastic performance.
2. Sacred Games – Netflix
Popularly hailed as the forerunner of the Indian Netflix series game, this show is directed by Vikramaditya Motwane and Anurag Kashyap. Dealing with the classic Kashyapian ‘two sides of the same coin’ delirium (as was the case in Raman Raghav 2.0), this series features the classic good v/s evil theme in a slightly revamped light. Featuring Saif Ali Khan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Kalki Koechlin, Pankaj Tripathi, Surveen Chawla and Radhika Apte in prominent roles, the show has an ensemble cast to die for. This classic noir story draws from the character prototypes relevant to the genre and intersperses them with larger, relevant socio-politico-religious themes. Masterfully crafted, Sacred Games isn’t without reason hailed revolutionary in the Indian web series scene.
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3. The Family Man – Amazon Prime
Deriving its energy from the very brilliant Manoj Bajpayee, The Family Man revolves around the life of a common man who works for a special cell of the National Investigation Agency. Standing at the crossroads of a dual alienation from his job and family alike, the man has much at stake. Written and directed by Raj and DK, the show defies its genre by imbibing humour into the spy narrative. Extremely relevant to contemporary realities, The Family Man is a treat for viewers seeking both quality content and entertainment. Here’s some great news for fans:
— manoj bajpayee (@BajpayeeManoj) September 12, 2020
4. Delhi Crime – Netflix
This gut-wrenching tale revolving around the Nirbhaya rape case is an essential addition to the list. Opening with shots of Delhi, the show clearly establishes this city, better known as the crime capital of the country, as the perpetrator of needless violence on its people. Starring Shefali Shah, this Richie Mehta directorial derives its strength from the fact that it is told from the police’s perspective. Shouldering the responsibilities of meting out justice to the family of the victim along with those of shielding the very reputation of a dubious city, the police are shown in a refreshed light here. The show premiered its first two episodes in the Indie Episodic category at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.
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5. Gullak – SonyLiv
As we warned you earlier, that there is going to be a lot of TVF on the list. Gullak is a slow-paced TVF show that revolves around the trials and tribulations of a middle-class family, more specifically, due to their financial constraints. Told with the classic Indian flavor, the show centers around the small-town-ness of the family in the spotlight, who lives in a small house, fights over small issues and inhabits a small world. Told from the perspective of the ‘gullak’, or the Indianised version of the coveted piggy bank kept in a corner of every middle-class household, this show is a sensorial treat. Written by Nikhil Vijay and directed by Amrit Raj Gupta, the power of Gullak lies in the simplicity of storytelling.
6. Made in Heaven – Amazon Prime
Revealing to the audiences, the hypocrisies of what goes behind the elite Indian weddings, Made in Heaven trails two wedding planners based out of Delhi, who organize the coveted big fat Indian weddings which are based on half-truths and half-lies. Created by Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti, this is a show that works as a sociological study of the upper-class. The lies and the deception inherent in the very nature of how things flow in these social groups is the real contention of the makers. Starring Arjun Mathur, Shobita Dhulipala, Jim Sarbh, Kalki Koechlin and several others in the ensemble cast, the show also touches on themes of homosexuality in an extremely sensitive way.
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7. Paatal Lok – Amazon Prime
If TVF is a production house that is making a mark by producing a specific type of content, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that Anushka Sharma’s Clean Slate Films is doing exactly that for different genres. Telling engaging stories in the form of Bulbbul and Paatal Lok, they have contributed their fair share into the sea of films that have released in the lockdown. Dealing with dark themes in the show, creator Sudip Sharma takes us to a world wherein a washed-up cop lands upon a life-altering case. Taking charge, he discovers the suspects and their backstories along the way, which is what constitutes the entirety of this riveting show. Unravelling the deceit as well as the hidden substories that govern the case, the cop indeed gets his claim at swarg lok.
8. Panchayat – Amazon Prime
Centering around the tale of an urbane boy who is forced to settle for a job in the countryside due to lack of prospects, this show follows him into a long-drawn journey until he falls for the rustic charm of the village. Created by TVF, directed by Deepak Kumar Mishra and starring Jeetendra Kumar in the lead role, this show reveals the nitty-gritty of the life lived in a typical North Indian village. It follows his change-of-heart out of the alienation he feels initially from his surroundings, keeping into perspective his aspiration for better in life and his MBA preparation. Essentially, it balances the themes of aspiration as well as contentment with what life has to offer, and allows the viewer to be reasonably inspired.
9. Pushpavalli – Amazon Prime
Coming straight from some of the forerunners of the Indian comic scene who have given us shows like Laakhon Mein Ek, Pushpavalli is sure to stand out to anybody looking for interesting female protagonist-based stories. Revolving around the life of an unusual stalker, this eponymous series follows the absolutely unique trajectory of this woman who is obsessed with the idea of dating a man who she is in love with. The extents to which she goes in order to solely achieve proximity to him is the driving force of the narrative, as it creates the conflict and the humor in each situation.
But what’s interesting to note is that the show does not encourage us to pity the protagonist, no matter how mistaken she is; rather it encourages us to empathize with her loneliness. Setting itself apart from other stalker stories by doing just that, the series hits the right spot. Created by Biswa Kalyan Rath and Sumukhi Suresh and starring Sumukhi as the creeper, Pushpavalli is an engaging watch.
There we are! These are the best Indian web series streaming across OTTs right now. Tell us what we missed in the comments below.
By Sanghmitra Jethwani