2022 So Far: The Best of Indian Streaming

15 Jul,2022

 

 

 

By Shailesh Kapoor

 

Shailesh Kapoor2022 is more than halfway through, and even as the pandemic lurks around, the year has a semblance of normalcy to it, something we have not felt since 2019. The entertainment narrative in the pandemic years was largely centered around streaming (direct-to-OTT) content. This year, the conversation has shifted significantly to theatrical films, with the release of some big blockbusters, especially in Telugu, Tamil and Kannada languages.

 

But streaming content continues to build a wider audience base, and is now a flourishing parallel industry that’s hard to not take notice of. The first half of the year has seen its fair share of hits and misses on the streaming front. Here’s my choice of five Indian streaming originals that made a mark in Jan-Jun 2022:

 

5. A Thursday (Disney+ Hotstar)

There haven’t been too many direct-to-OTT films that have made a mark this year, as the best content has been released theatrically first. But the Feb 2022 Hotstar thriller A Thursday, headlined by Yami Gautam Dhar, got the audience attention like no other film could. With an estimated viewership of 25.5 Mn, it is the most-watched streaming original film in India this year, ahead of the more-hyped Gehraiyaan. The thriller, with a very relevant message in the last act, may end up being the biggest direct-to-OTT film of the year too, given that streamers are now shifting their focus firmly to series than films.

 

 

4. Gullak S3 (Sony LIV)

Gullak is a partnership between a platform (Sony LIV) and a producer (TVF) who are both recognized for some excellent work in the streaming space over the last few years. The show revels in its simplicity and the ‘aam aadmi’ connect, making it stand out in a category that’s still driven by a predominantly cosmopolitan outlook. There has been amazing consistency across the three seasons of the show, in terms of character portrayal, the quality of humor, and the overall tonality of the show itself. One hopes the fourth season is round the corner, because the show’s growing fanbase is eagerly anticipating it.

 

 

3. Suzhal: The Vortex (Amazon Prime Video)

Created by Pushkar-Gayathri, of Vikram Vedha fame, crime thriller Suzhal has managed to find an audience outside its native (Tamil) market, despite the setting of the story setting being rooted in the local culture. The streaming category has made the language barrier a lesser factor over the last two years, and we can expect more shows like Suzhal to break through in the Hindi market in the coming months.

 

 

2. Rocket Boys (Sony LIV)

Rocket Boys, a biopic that traces the life of Homi Bhabha and Vikram Sarabhai, is a masterful recreation of an important chapter in modern Indian history. But it’s not the historical significance that makes the show so delightful to watch. Rocket Boys, created by Abhay Pannu, has an irresistible vibe, as it seamlessly blends humor with drama, romance with history, and irreverence with a sense of responsibility. Imaginative casting is one of the show’s strengths, and Jim Sarbh as Bhabha is particularly outstanding.

 

 

1. Panchayat S2 (Amazon Prime Video)

Panchayat is the second TVF show on this list. TVF’s strong presence on any Indian streaming list is a given, given the consistency of their offering over a few years now. Unlike Gullak, which has a more homely and next-door vibe, Panchayat has a certain cinematic quality to it, despite its simple, almost innocent, imagery. You can sense that this show is going to only get bigger and more ambitious with each season, because it’s uniquely wry style of giving social commentary is some sort of an acquired taste.

 

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