There is no dearth of television shows and web series that have been released this year. Many were brilliant at the subject they chose to tackle, while others were good only on paper. Many might have had good performances, while others relied only on the premise because the rest of the aspects were not very engaging. There were a handful of shows that were interesting and kept the audience hooked. Here is a list compiled by us for your perusal and interest.
The Night Manager (Hindi)
Disney+ Hotstar finally forayed into official remakes of popular shows from the West. There was plenty of apprehension regarding the Hindi adaptation of The Night Manager, mainly due to the popularity of the original British show that features the amazing Olivia Coleman and Tom Hiddleston. Thankfully, Sandeep Modi and Shridhar Raghavan delivered a faithful adaptation by giving it a subcontinental flavor. The best part about the show was the impeccable casting. Anil Kapoor as the ruthless arms dealer, along with Sobhita Dhulipala, were both excellent choices for the characters they had to perform. Aditya Roy Kapur brought some rugged broodiness and did not disappoint. The surprise package was from yesteryear actor Ravi Behl. The adaptation did not digress much from the original show, which was the right call. The writing and direction of the Hindi adaptation are incredible, making it a must-watch.
Class, the Netflix India Original, is a Hindi adaptation of the famous Spanish Netflix show Elite. The show introduces the industry to a plethora of young actors. The writing of the show pointed out the class divide, which is rampant in a city like Delhi. There are subjects of caste, religion, displacement, economic differences, and hypocrisy discussed throughout the length of the show, and it never slows down. There is a lot to uncover about the kids of the rich, and Class breaks that barrier and presents an ugly picture of the social structure of our country. The screenplay by Kersi Khambatta does the work, as it does not shy away from speaking the truth about the nature of human beings and their tendency to look down upon others they believe are beneath them. A good watch.
Vikramaditya Motwane is not a surprise package anymore. He has the Midas touch, and the man is a great director and a visionary. It was not the first time the Hindi industry tried to recreate its golden era. Many of those attempts have not worked, but Jubilee has a feverish quality that allows the audience to understand the era that was discovering the meaning of the word freedom. The show by Vikram and Soumik Sen is loosely based on actors of that era, when many were still grappling with the trauma of the partition. The advent of talkies, competition between two producers and actors, and the rise of government influence over cinema are the highlights of the show. The show is filled with some great performances that will leave a lasting impression. The show transports the audience to that era, which is a sign of good writing and direction.
Kerala Crime Files (Malayalam)
Kerala Crime Files and The Bear Season 2 were released on the same weekend. It was delightful to watch two distinct shows over the weekend and appreciate the diverse stories we get to watch these days. Based on a true story, the show takes the viewer through the investigation of a prostitute’s murder. The police begin the hunt as they follow every lead that comes along. The show is straightforward, with zero deviation disrupting the narrative. It was the first time two popular mainstream actors debuted on an OTT show, Lal and Aju Varghese. Their performances were faultless. Director Ahammed Khabeer made a solid debut with a story and screenplay of gripping nature.
Netflix India has been on a roll in the year 2023, with back-to-back brilliant shows being churned out by the India division of the streaming giant. Created by Gunjit Chopra, Sudeep Sharma, and Diggi Sisodia, Kohhra is a crime thriller set in the rural heartland of Punjab. The show picks apart patriarchy and homophobia, which forms the mindset of people living in rural areas. There is a murder investigation that could reveal some horrifying secrets about the victim and change the dynamics of his family, who are alive and picking up the pieces after the tragedy. Kohhra is essentially about fathers coming to terms with understanding their grown-up children. For some, there is time to make up, but for others, it is too late to reconcile. Kohhra explored these aspects in the rawest manner and delivered an impeccable show that broke all the barriers of filmmaking, storytelling, and performances. Suvinder Vicky deserves all the awards coming his way for his portrayal of SI Balbir Singh Sekhon.
Bambai Meri Jaan (Hindi)
Bambai Meri Jaan, created by Shujaat Saudagar, might come across as yet another tale of the mafia kingpins of Mumbai. There have been too many movies that have glorified the lives of these criminals who ran parallel governments in the same city. There is a lot to take away from Bambai Meri Jaan and understand about the kind of illegal work that was carried out throughout the city. Loosely based on the mafia kings of the city, their life stories are chronicled from the perspective of a police officer who witnesses his son and family taking the dangerous route to survive. The great thing about this show must be the non-glorification of the life of crime all the men got into, with no one trying to justify the acts of crime being committed. The direction, cinematography, and production design are excellent and deserve accolades.
The Romantics (Hindi)
Smriti Mundhra, who is known for the infamous Indian Match Making, for the first time on Valentine’s Day gave everyone who loves Hindi cinema a homage to Yash Chopra. The Romantics is a documentary series that chronicles the life of the legendary Indian producer and director Yash Chopra, who started Yash Raj films. Yash Chopra has single-handedly changed the picture of how Hindi cinema or, as many refer to it, Bollywood is perceived in our country and the West. All these aspects and more are covered in the show. A lot of actors from the Hindi film industry including Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan made an appearance to speak about the man that has delivered some of the best romantic and dramatic stories. The highlight of the show was Aditya Chopra breaking his cardinal rule and speaking in front of the camera for the first time. It was only apt for him to speak about his father’s legacy. This documentary series is a nostalgic trip down memory lane.
Mumbai Diaries, Season 2 (Hindi)
The second season of Mumbai Diaries had the hospital tackling the flood that brought the entire city of Mumbai to a stand still. The highlight of this show again is the direction and many one-take shots. The season not only managed to focus on the personal lives of every doctor who worked tirelessly amidst the increasing water levels due to the nonstop rains, but the writers also managed to tap into mental health issues yet again, this time it was more about domestic and emotional abuse. Konkona Sen Sharma as Dr. Chitra Das has the misfortune of facing her abusive husband after a long time. The actor and the writers bravely convey the PTSD she faces on seeing her estranged partner. There is a lot to empathize with because of her mental health deterioration. Season two is excellent and it deserves to be watched.
Prasath Murugesan’s Mathagam is probably one of the most haunting police dramas that does not include any interrogation or investigation. A group of righteous high-ranking officers are after a dreaded criminal who is supposed to be dead but murmurs around the mafia seem to tell otherwise. The Tamil Nadu police’s determination and the team are constantly put on the back foot by a certain state cabinet minister paints quite the picture of how corruption is rampant and there is no hope for people fighting crime. The cat-and-mouse chase and the final face-off are intense, making the show a must-watch.
Kaala Paani (Hindi)
Who would have thought that the makers of Permanent Roommates, Pitchers, and Tripling would come up with a compelling tale of survival in a post-Covid era? Kaala Paani, as the name suggests, is set in the Andaman Islands. There is a constant fight between development and preserving nature, and there is no permanent solution to this tussle. An outbreak of an epidemic could potentially kill the whole population and the tourists visiting the island for a big festival organized by a private company. The matter has escalated, and the government is keen to find a cure that could curb the spread of the disease. The show and the tale of this epidemic are told from different perspectives and allow the audience to understand each argument. The show is lengthy, but slowly viewers will find an answer to the ultimate question of man vs. nature. It’s a dilemma that has no right or wrong answer. This survival drama by Amit Golani, Nimisha Misra, Sandeep Saket, and Biswapati is a must-watch.
Shehar Lakhot (Hindi)
Devika Bhagat and Navdeep Singh’s Shehar Lakhot is loosely translated to the city of Lakhot in the state of Rajasthan, which is known for the marble mafia. The movie revolves around the people associated with the mafia, which includes the local police who are on the payroll of the bigwigs. Some rich aristocrats are trying hard to find their identity and are emphasizing their power and rights. Embroiled in this mess are a young man, his estranged elder brother, and a woman who is seeking independence. The show is laid out with love, betrayals, psychopaths, homophobia, and men fueled by egos. Shehar Lakhot is easily one of the best shows of this year because it does not try too hard to be hardcore. There is bloodshed, but it is the story that requires it. Navdeep Singh’s first outing as a director and creator of an OTT show was a success. Shehar Lakhot is a slow-burn noir but an engrossing political thriller.