Firstly advanced happy New Year and here’s hoping that we will finally get rid of this COVID in 2023. Following is a list of the web series that I have liked most this year. Out of the eight web series that I have chosen there are two Telugu, four Hindi, one English and one Pakistani.
1 Dhoop Ki Deewar– Director Haseeb Hasan’s Dhoop Ki Deewar is a show which is much needed for today’s times. Through a heart wrenching love story the director conveyed a strong anti- war message. The series begins off with an intense India and Pakistan cricket match. You have two families cheering for their respective nations. One family is from Amritsar and the other one is from Lahore.
The first episode gives you a basic idea about these two families. The audiences soon come to know that they are army ones. The main characters are Sara Sher Ali (Sajal Ally) and Vishal Malhotra (Ahad Raza). The fathers of these two are fighting in the Indian- Pakistan border in Jammu & Kashmir. Sara and Vishal don’t know that their lives are going to change forever.
Haseeb Hasan gets many things right with the show. One of those things is the consumption of entertainment across the nations. For example Vishal is shown to be a fan of Atif Aslam songs. The Indian family on one hand is shown to be fond of Pakistani dramas; on the other hand the Pakistani family is shown to be fond of Indian dramas. All these things are narrated in an entertaining way.
The love story between the leads keeps you guessing regarding where it is going to end. At one point it looks like they may have a happily ever after but that is soon drowned with the twists towards the final few episodes. The climax is a highly emotional one; it is very difficult not to be moved. Sajal Ally and Ahad Raza bring the characters to life with their terrific performances. Both of them are equally good and that also helps the audiences in making them root for the characters.
Also read: The expectations have come true
1. Sex Education Season 3– There is a major reason why the sex education series is hugely popular. It is a series which had juggled many delicate issues like teen sexuality, gender identity etc. All this was done in such a way that you never feel like being lectured. Sex education season 3 was a worthy successor as it goes a step further. This time the focus was on women’s rights, patriarchy and loving oneself.
For those who haven’t seen the first two seasons the plot primarily followed the journey of Otis Milburn (Asa Butterfield). He is a student at Moordale Secondary school. Otis is slightly ambivalent toward sex. The reason for that is his divorced mother Jean (Gillian Anderson). She is a sex therapist who has frequent affairs but is unable to maintain relationships.
Another major character is that of Maeve Wiley (Emma Mackey). Otis and Maeve set up a sex therapy business in school in order to help the students who have sexual problems. Season 2 was majorly about an outbreak called Chlamydia that causes students to question and struggle against topical issues.
Coming to Season 3 a major highlight of this one was how it dealt with the female characters. They were written with lot of insight. This insight can be particularly seen with Maeve and also the pregnancy of Otis mother Jean Melbourn. The writing of these characters was also strong in the first two ones but this time it went a notch higher. Emma Mackey and Gilan Anderson were the best out of the ensemble cast.
1. Kudi Yedamaithe– Pawan Kumar’s Kudi Yedamaithe was based on an interesting premise of two people having already lived through a particular day. In the hands of a less competent director this premise would have fallen flat but Pawan Kumar did an extremely good job in making the audiences engrossed throughout.
The series comprised of eight episodes and it never deviated from its core plot. Thankfully, there were no forceful insertions like comedy track or songs. The two characters in question here are Adi (Rahul Vijay) and cop Durga (Amala Paul). Durga has her hands full as she is busy trying to catch the child kidnappers. Adi on the other hand is a delivery boy with aspirations of becoming an actor. The core plot is about whether these two can change the turn of events since they are aware of what the rest of the day holds.
One of the major strengths of the series is the subtle variations that the director brings to the table in terms of how he presents the events. This can be particularly seen with Adi’s character. The director also makes sure that the concept of time loop never gets into a boring zone. While Amala Paul is in good form as Durga it is Rahul Vijay who surprises you. He gets equal footage to show his potential.
Also read: Two intimate ‘memoirs’
2. Unheard– Aditya KV’s Unheard is a series which packs in a lot. There are multiple themes going on. For example you have the ideological stand offs between the revolutionaries. It is a lot to focus on but the director does a good job of keeping you invested.
The series starts off with an idealistic young Gandhian Padma (Chandini Chowdary). She seeks help for an injured comrade played by Priyadarshini. The doctor who helps her is Chalapati (Bala Aditya). The night passes with Padma and Chalapati having heated arguments on the benefits and banes of Nizam rule along with the price of freedom. The next episode is about two revolutionaries with different ideologies, along with Priyadarshini this episode also features Ajay. The rest of the episodes mostly bring back the familiar characters.
One of the most striking aspects of the series is the conversations between the revolutionaries. The series by nature is heavy on dialogues as the characters are frequently saying their point of views. Thankfully the dialogues also written by Aditya KV are just as powerful. These dialogues along with the performances of the actors also aided the script.
1. Family Man Season 2– The expectations from Family Man Season 2 was immense, fortunately season 2 more than lived up to the expectations. In fact it was better than the first one. Just like the first season director duo Raj and DK continued to showcase their ability in dealing with conflicts both global and domestic through humanist lens. You don’t come across simplistic heroes and villains here. There are shades of grey on both sides.
By the end of Season 1 Manoj Bajpai’s Srikant Tiwari had quit his task force job and joined an IT company. The reason for that is his guilt about certain events that had happened at the end of the first season. He also wanted to make his family life work but his attempts at neither are working. He is getting fed up of the IT job and the family life has become worse.
The backdrop of Season 2 is Northern Sri Lanka. Samantha’s character Raji is a hardened LTTE militant. The basic storyline is Srikant Tiwari deciding that he has had enough and returning back to where he belongs. The task of Srikant Tiwari this time is to save PM Basu (Seema Biswas) from the hands of LTTE. In addition the old nemeses have also made a comeback.
The biggest triumph of Family Man Season 2 is how Raj and DK deal with the characters of Samantha’s Raji and the entire LTTE thing in general. Samantha had said in various interviews that she doesn’t look at her character as a villain. You understand why she said like that when you see the show. Raji is someone who has faced brutality at the hands of both Sri lankan soldiers and also men in day to day life. Her anger is not just about the governments but it is also about patriarchy.
Samantha embodied all these aspects of her character and delivered a performance that pushes boundaries. The way she did the action scenes was also first rate. Manoj Bajpai as Srikant Tiwari started off from where he left off in the season. Sharab Hasmi in his supporting was equally impressive just like the first part.
2. Grahan– Rajesh Chandel’s Grahan was based on the novel Chaurasi written by Satya Vyas. The eight episodes covers a story that is set three decades from each other, however there is a commonality that binds them.
Zoya Hussain plays the righteous police officer Amrita Singh. She firmly believes in using her position for the betterment of society. Pawan Malhotra plays the father. When Amrita tries to solve a case of an honest journalist she faces opposition from top politicians. Frustrated she decides to resign, but things take a turn when an old case regarding the Sikh riots in a place called Bokaro comes up. Her world comes crashing down as she finds that her father is the prime suspect in this case.
The most striking aspect of Grahan is the parallels that the director draws between 1984 India and today’s one. There are some sharp observations on how people can be quickly incited by What’sApp forwards and political manipulation. There are some scenes in the present timeline which show how easily people believe in these rumors and turn against each other in spite of living with them for a long time. The underlying message is that the issues are the same whether it is 1984 India or today’s one.
The emotional scenes between Zoya and Pavan Malhotra also struck a chord with the audiences.
3. Mumbai Diaries– Mumbai Diaries directed by Nikhil Advani and Nikhil Gonsalves is a gripping drama that is both emotional and intriguing. The directors took the real life incidents of 26//11 and penned down a fictional story.
The director duo set their story in a crowded, chaotic and low- on resources government hospital. The doctors and nurses are pushed to their limits as victims of gunshots are wheeled in one after another on the night of November 26th.
Although the medical professionals are the centre of the story they are not the only ones under the spotlight. In essence Mumbai Diaries is about the spirit of the people. It was a night where everyone had to be on their toes to fight this unexpected attack.
The biggest success of Mumbai Diaries lies in how they made a thriller that is both heartbreaking and heart stopping. The series makes you applaud the courage and the determination that both men and women showed in the face of death. It also avoided the cliché route of pitting one nation against another, or one religion against another.
Out of the huge ensemble the ones who stood out were Mohit Raina, Konkana Sen Sharma and Satyajit Dubey.
4. The Empire– Mitakshara Kumar’s The Empire was based on Alex Rutherford’s novel The Raiders from the north. It was the first in the series written by Alex Rutherford. The book essentially covered the journey of Babur from Fergana to setting up the Mughal Empire. Apart from Kunal Kapoor as Babur the ensemble cast also included Dino Morea, Shabana Azmi, Drashti Dhami etc.
The Empire wasn’t exactly as engaging as the book but it was still consistently watchable on the account of several factors.
The scale of the series was undoubtedly very striking. The camerawork by Nigam Bomzan and the production design by Priya Suhas was successful in transporting the audience. Mitakshara Kumar worked as an assistant director for several years under Sanjay Leela Bhansali, you can clearly see the influence of her mentor.
Just like Ranveer’s Khilji Dino Morea also had a more of an impactful role compared to Kunal Kapoor who played Babur. Initially we see Dino’s character as a ruthless villain but slowly a psychological insight is also given. His scenes with Drashti Dhami’s Khanzada Begum showed a different side to the character.
The female characters of Dhrasti Dhami and Shabana Azmi were another good aspect of the series. Drashti Dhami in particular molded herself well in a character that requires her to be bold yet restrained and impactful. Both the women characters play an important role in the politics of the kingdom and aren’t mere bystanders.
This is all about the year ender web series, once again advanced Happy New Year.