Prior to this year, most of the successful Indian web shows were about cheap thrills and sensational plots with solid dose of blood and gore. The mindset seems to be changing in 2020 as the showrunners have started to experiment with themes. Top shows still have a lot of violence but new hits have started changing the broader landscape.
Here’s a list of the 9 best Indian Hindi web shows that appears to have a mix of different genres.
1. Scam 1992 (Sony Liv): We don’t have a great history of handling projects based on financial irregularities. That’s why the first episode of Hansal Mehta’s show came as a surprise. Finally, there was a director who was willing to take the pain of explaining jargons that keep us away from the stock market and its surroundings. Pratik Gandhi’s portrayal of Harshad Mehta has been a revelation, and that background score is worth considering for a ring tone.
2. Special Ops (Disney+ Hotstar): The only reason behind putting Special Ops a step ahead of Paatal Lok is its finesse, otherwise both the shows have enough side stories and quite a delectable pace. Even in terms of ensemble, pretty stellar line-ups are there. You can blame it on my fondness of high thrill quotient, and that too because of just one scene when sharp shooters are waiting for an international terrorist to come out of the car. This scene is at par with any good international project and tells enough about its creator Neeraj Pandey.
3. Pataal Lok (Amazon Prime Video): I won’t be surprised if Sudeep Sharma’s show turns out to be the most watched in the longer run, because it has something for everyone. The characters offer great insights into rustic criminal minds and their shaping up. Then there are Jaideep Ahlawat, Neeraj Kabi and Swastika Mukherjee, who add so many dimensions to the storyline that you want them to actually get into some kind of trouble, so that you could see more of them. Pretty voyeuristic, nonetheless satisfying.
4. Undekhi (SonyLIV): This one documents the evolution of creator Siddharth Sengupta as you could see the traces of his underrated yet fantastic TV show 9 Malabar Hills (1998). With probably the best opening episode of 2020, Undekhi also shifts the spotlight to two actors—Dibyendu Bhattacharya and Surya Sharma. They operate in a world full of terror and unpredictable human behaviour, and still shine.
5. Asur (Voot Select): Tu Hai Mera Sunday, 22 Yards and most recently Halahal, Barun Sobti has been showcasing his latent potential with every project, but only an 8-episode series could give him such a vast canvas to explore his range. What a fine actor he is turning out to be! Thankfully, he isn’t the only actor to talk about from the show because Arshad Warsi is in his element as well. Not many Indian shows have efficiently handled such a strong mythological touch as Gaurav Shukla’s show.
6. Taj Mahal 1989 (Netflix): You may complain that Lucknow, Kanpur and Agra have been shown differently than they are but that’s not the point. Can you put your hand on your heart and say that you didn’t take a trip down the memory lane after watching this one and relived the nostalgia in its complete glory? It’s a rough yet charming world amidst books, nature, relationships and love. The last two are different, in case you’re wondering. Pushpendra Nath Mishra’s show drips of love if it’s not totally love.
7. Panchayat (Amazon Prime Video): Raghubir Yadav, Neena Gupta and Chandan Roy have got so much chill that you wonder what you would do if you were in Jitendra Kumar’s place! With no useless frills and unnecessary cuss words, Deepak Mishra has created a hilarious yet authentic world that lives inside us, all the time, even when we dream of earning in dollars and living in highest mansions. No focus on glamour yet so attractive. Full marks for trying to change the Indian web show space.
8. Bandish Bandits (Amazon Prime Video): Though it catches pace a little late, but once it does there is no looking back. Atul Kulkarni, Sheeba Chaddha, Rajesh Tailang, Amit Mistry and Naseeruddin Shah—you can’t ask for more expressive personalities. However, when a show is called Bandish Bandits then you’d need some good music to go with and there you have Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy. Creators Amritpal Singh and Anand Tiwari have tried something really difficult here.
9. Ashram (MX Player): This came as a surprise to me, considering the other content available on the same platform, but you need to watch it in isolation to understand how nuanced Prakash Jha has made it. All characters are etched with ease and a lot of thought. Every action has a reference point with a larger than life godman towering over all. What a fantastic choice Bobby Deol has been.
Special Mention: Jamtara (Netflix) is a difficult world which never lets its noose let lose. You’re in its grip in life and in death. As they say seeing is believing, so make sure you watch director Soumendra Padhi’s show. This is also a part of our Shining India. After all, it’s related to the communication boom we are witnessing.