1. Made in Heaven imdb Rating 8.3/10 Amazon Prime
Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti collaborated with screenwriter Alankrita Shrivastava to create a nine-part series Made In Heaven, giving us an intimate view into big, fat Indian weddings and their planning teams. At the center of it are wedding planners Tara (Sobhita Dhulipala) and Karan (Arjun Mathur) who are struggling to establish their own agency although their upscale clients are the rich, richer and richest of Delhi. The show delicately captures the frailties and festering relationships of Delhi one-percenters. Some brilliant writing, acting and ensemble cast. The second season is in the works, so get up to speed, if you haven’t already watched it.
2. Sacred Games imdb Rating 8.8/10 Netflix
This cat and mouse tale, based on Vikram Chandra‘s 2006 novel of the same name, sucks you right in. If you haven’t watched Sacred Games, the first Netflix original series in India, it is high time you did. If you have, then a second round is always more thrilling. It’s a binge watch, at least in the edgy first season. In the first season, gangster Ganesh Gaitonde (Nawaziddin Siddiqui) sets police officer Sartaj Singh (Saif Ali Khan) on a chase for 25 days to stop an imminent terror attack in Mumbai. There are clues in the present and past connections, but Singh has no idea where it begins and where it ends. The second season slows down, and carefully delves into the past to make sense of the present. The supporting cast is stellar too: Pankaj Tripathi, Niraj Kabi, Ranvir Shorey, Jitendra Joshi, Kubra Sait, Amruta Subhash, Radhika Apte and Kalki Koechlin. With names like Vikramaditya Motwane, Anurag Kashyap and Varun Grover leading the show, and no third season in horizon, this is as good as it gets.
3. Stories by Rabindranath Tagore 9/10
Immerse yourself in the unhurried beauty of Stories by Rabindranath Tagore. Anurag Basu transports the viewer to late 19th and early 20th century Bengal, before partition, when there was political unrest in Kolkata. You see stories of characters from diverse cultural, rural, and social backgrounds in a new upcoming world. It is an Epic TV original released in 2015, now acquired by Netflix. The show masterfully unravels the simplicity, complexity and diaphanous nature of human relationships. The women in Tagore’s world were definitely refreshing and spunky— they twisted social and familial norms to find their way through a rigid Indian society. Basu uses Tagore’s words and songs to make his visuals come alive, taking his own sweet time to narrate these 14 stories in 26 episodes, each story woven into the other slowly and seamlessly. It is rated 9 on imdb for a reason although I’d give it an easy 10. The casting is perfect, with some solid performances by unknown gem actors. Among the known faces are Radhika Apte, Bhanu Uday and Sumeet Vyas in Choker Bali and Amrita Puri and Rahul Bagga in Broken Nest.
4. Little Things imdb Rating 8.3/10 Netflix
There is no escaping the charm of Dhruv and Kavya in mini-series Little Things. You are invested in them, all heart in, hoping that couple wins over the messiness that modern-day relationships represent. As they navigate a live-in relationship through life in their 20s and discovering parts and wholes of themselves as well as each other, you know there will be bumps or perhaps walls of obstacles. Nothing is off-limits, in terms of discussion or problem, yet they keep it equal, airy and open. Mithila Palkar is definitely the showstopper, superbly handling Kavya’s every expression, stretch and mood. Dhruv Sehgal isn’t far behind, equally charming and intense but he keeps it subtle. Together, they rock as the lead actors. The first season might seem a bit surface-y but the show is a quiet winner, second season onwards, when the couple moves from coochie cooing to adulting and tackling ticklish and uneasy topics with finesse.
5. Delhi Crime imdb Rating 8.5/10 Netflix
Delhi Crime is a painful, agonising watch which cannot be missed. Based on the Jyoti Singh Pandey’s rape case, one of the most brutal in India’s capital city, New Delhi, this seven-part series focuses on the case from the point of view of the police. The incident had gained local and worldwide attention because of the horrific nature of the crime. Filmmaker Richie Mehta shows how the case was investigated swiftly and surely by Delhi Police despite bureaucratic pressures, political influences and lack of resources. It took six years for Mehta to work on the series, he conducted ground-level research to bring out the state of affairs. Although questions have been raised that the show is biased towards the Delhi Police department, it packs a strong punch and makes for a gripping and eye-opening watch.
6. Mirzapur imdb Rating 8.5/10 Amazon Prime
The first thirty minutes of Mirzapur dish out thrilling flavor samples for a first taste with a seasoned chef. The delicious ingredients aka the key cast are introduced with careful precision in the first episode by writers Karan Anshuman, Puneet Krishna and Vineet Krishnan. There is the main antagonist Munna (Divyendu Sharma), man-child brat of local don Akhandanand Tripathi aka Kaleen Bhaiyya (Pankaj Tripathi), who set the tone. Facing off the father-son duo is upright lawyer Ramakant (Rajesh Tailang) who picks a prickly legal case, setting forth a chain of events in which his sons, the protagonists Guddu (Ali Fazal) and Bablu (Vikrant Massey) are caught. The women are strong and naughty. Golu (Shweta Tripathi), her older sister Sweety (Shriya Pilgaonkar), Beena Tripathi (Rasika Dugal), Dimpy (Harshita Gaur) and Vasudha (Sheeba Chaddha) shine. Casting is perfect in this slow-cooked, gripping crime feast set in a fictitious-real world which runs into a total of 421 minutes. Mirzapur is definitely worth taking the roller coaster ride. And stay tuned, because season 2 is in production.
7. Powder imdb Rating 8.7/10 Netflix
The slick and underrated Powder failed miserably when it was released on Sony TV in 2010 but has been resurrected by Netflix. This well-researched and realistic series was way ahead of its time with its realistic and uncompromising portrayal of crime and drug trafficking. Manish Choudhary leads a team of Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) officers, Gaurav Sharma, Geetika Tyagi and Rahul Bagga, as they crack down on a group of drug traffickers, peddlers, and smugglers. The starcast is fabulous and the show showcases some popular names like Pankaj Tripathi, Rasika Dugal who have now made it big in the web series world. The first season consists of 26 episodes of 45 minutes each.
8. Inside Edge imdb Rating 8/10 Amazon Prime
In which world would politics, bribery, fixing, sex and fame co-exist? Cricket, of course. Inside Edge, Amazon Prime’s first Hindi Web series, is set in the world of Indian Premier league with all-round great performances, on and off the field. The first season focuses on Mumbai Mavericks and its key players Arvind Vashisht (Angad Bedi), Vayu Raghavan (Tanuj Virwani). Vikrant Dhawan (Vivek Oberoi) buys the mavericks team from its bankrupt owner, whose co-owner is Zarina Malik (Richa Chadha), hoping to make money by spot-fixing his own team. Caught amid the murk is newcomer Prashanth Kanaujia (Siddhant Chaturvedi), talented bowler, considered lower caste, who is trying to establish himself. The second season pits Arvind and Vayu against each other. Both seasons thrive on twists and surprises, every episode is mind boggling and grand. Bonus: the live cricket scenes are shot brilliantly.
Hamida Parkar is a freelance journalist and founder-editor of cinemaspotter.com. She writes on cinema, culture, women and social equity.
This article was edited by Culture and Media Editor Geetika Pathania Jain.
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