Sunday, April 8, 2018

An Era of Web Series

The 80s and 90s generation of Indian kids, like me, had only TV as a source of entertainment, apart from cinema. Despite availability of limited channels, we watched some of the classics during the early years, like Ramayan, Mahabharat, Tehkikaat, Mr Yogi, Nukkad, Chandrakanta, Shaktimaan, Dekh Bhai Dekh, Rangoli, Byomkesh Bakshi, Surbhi and few others. Such was the time that, timings of these serials were known to everyone, and accordingly people would plan their routine. I grew up in a chawl, and when TV had issues, we even went to neighbours home so that episode is not missed.

That was an era of TV series with finite episodes, mostly on Doordarshan. No matter how much is the popularity of a series, it will end. Then came globalisation, and along with arrival of new channels. This gave rise to 24x7 entertainment, movie and news channels. It was nothing sort of revolution in Indian entertainment industry, with billions of money flowing into it. From content quality point-of-view, though there was a gradual decline. By 2001, Indian TV was completely taken over by Saas-Bahu melodrama, with the exception of early game/reality shows like KBC, Indian Idol or comedy shows like Sarabhai vs Sarabhai and Khichdi.

Personally, my family had almost stopped watching TV series in last 7-8 years. The last few series that I remember watching were Maharana Pratap, Crime Petrol, Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah and Comedy Circus, which like many others, started on a good note and then kept on getting dragged.

Then came the Youtube revolution in Indian entertainment, and with it came web series and sitcoms. 
In last 4 years, I managed to watch over 30 different series, multiple seasons in few cases, across different content providers. Can't say that all of them were good, but there are definite advantages of watching web series over TV.

  • Finite number of episodes
    • Most series have 4 to 10 episodes, because of which the story doesn't get dragged on.
  • No fixed timings
    • While in most cases, channels do release episodes one-by-one, after release, it is always available to watch as per individual's convenience.
  • Binge watch
    • Adding to previous point, it is fun watching all/multiple episodes in a single sitting. Sometimes it is better to wait for the arrival of all the episodes, and then watch 'em all.
  • Fresh content
    • Unlike TV, creators of web series don't have do indulge in TRP race. Also, they don't have to go through censorship. This gives them creative freedom to write fresh and innovative content, targeted for specific audience.  Many leading film makers have started directing/producing content for Web now.
  • Masterclass actors
    • Web series actors are exceptionally good, and have become quite a sensation in this medium. Sumeet Vyas, Jitendra Kumar, Mithila Palkar, Naveen Kasturia, Nidhi Singh, Nidhi Bisht, Aahana Kumra, Amol Parashar and many others have established themselves as specialists. Many commercial actors from TV/Cinema have also started appearing in Web series now, including Rajkumar Rao, Vivek Oberoi, Richa Chadha, Nimrat Kaur, Atul Kulkarni and many more.
Below are some of web series that I found worth watching. And there are lot more that are in pipeline to be watched!

Permanent Roommates - S01 & S02 (TVF)

Season 1 of this iconic series of TVF was the one that hooked me to Web and TVF. A relatively simple story of a couple was brilliantly performed by Sumeet Vyas and Nidhi Singh. Such was an impact that I have often watched the select episodes again and again, especially episode 3 of season 1, having Jitendra Kumar and Akanksha Thakur.

Pitchers (TVF)

Probably the most famous Indian web series till date, Pitchers is the simply brilliant. Yet another TVF production, this is a story of four guys looking to establish their own start-up. The real-life treatment of characters made them immortals in the web world. Such is the craze of this series that there have been constant demand for season 2 by fans.

Bachelors - S01 & S02 (TVF)

This parody series of some of the famous Bollywood movies, is a classic sitcom. While season 1 features Bhuvan Bam (of BB ki Vines), season 2 has Jitendra Kumar. This series deals with real-life problems that bachelors face. Parody of Lagaan, A Wednesday, Bahubali and Chak De India are a must watch.

Humorously Yours (TVF)

This is a story that showcases life of a struggling stand-up comedian, wonderfully written and performed. The series stars Vipul Goyal, Abhishek Banerjee and Rasika Duggal, along with host of special appearances by some of the big names in Indian standup comedy.

Tripling (TVF)

There are road-trip movies of friends and couples, but Tripling is a  unique road-trip of siblings, from Mumbai to their home in the mountains, along with many ups and downs, and how the journey changes their lives. This is a series one should watch with their grown-up siblings. This yet another TVF production, is wonderfully written by Akash Khurana and Sumeet Vyas.

Sarabhai vs Sarabhai - Take 2 (Hotstar) 

When the most iconic TV series of Indian TV made a comeback after 11 long years, it came in the form of a web series on Hotstar. While there are valid arguments about season 2 not meeting the high standards set by season 1, it is still good watch for the fans of Sarabhais.

Man’s World (YRF)

What it likes to live a life of a woman for a man - That's the concept this series from YRF channel is based on. Its focus on detailing and little things makes it a good watch.

Bang Baaja Baaraat (YRF)

This high-profile comedy drama from YRF features Ali Fazal, Rajat Kapoor and host of notable actors. It is based on a Delhi wedding of love birds from two completely different background.

Aam Aadmi Family - S01 & S02 (Timeliners)

Image result for aam aadmi family
A story on the live of a middle class Delhi family, and their simple life, has a charm of those early 90s serials on DD. Most episodes are of 15-20 minutes, and makes it easy to binge watch. This series doesn't have any big actors but the writing, acting and direction is top class, and it is difficult to stop once you start watching.

Inside Edge (Amazon Prime)

This high-profile fictional thriller drama series on Amazon Prime revolves around match fixing in a cricket league. This series stars Vivek Oberoi, Richa Chadha, Angad Bedi and quite a few other mainstream actors. It is very high on production value and lives upto the hype.

Bose Dead/Alive (AltBalaji/JioCinema)

Written by Reshu Nath,  and based on India's Biggest Cover-Up by Anuj Dhar, this is a story of Subhas Chandra Bose from a completely different perspective. It goes back-n-forth across different phases of Netaji's life. Rajkumar Rao and Naveen Kasturia are class-apart in this action thriller.

The Test Case (AltBalaji/JioCinema)

AltBalaji has comes up with quite a few interesting web series in recent times. Though The Test Case should be their best one till date, along with Bose Dead/Alive. A fictional story about the training of India's first woman in combat role, is wonderfully directed and equally executed by actors. It has Nimrat Kaur, Atul Kulkarni, Anup Soni, Rahul Dev and Juhi Chawla, along with quite a capable support cast. 

It Happened in Hong Kong (Viu)

This is a story of two unknown people who meet in Hong Kong during their solo trips. It is unique in a way that it revolves around only two people, their talks and their chemistry.

Little Things (DiceMedia)

Image result for little things dice media

Little Things is a story of a live-in couple brought alive beautifully by Dhruv Sehgal and Mithila Palkar. Each episode focuses on small small things that affect their lives, and how they find joy despite all the troubles of the day.

Yeh Meri Family (TVF)

Image result for Yeh Meri Family

Yeh Meri Family takes one back to the 90s, with all the nostalgia. It is a story of a simple family living in Jaipur, from a 13-year old boy. The series showcases his daily struggles, dealing with parents, sibling rivalries, pep-talks with best friend, crush, school, cricket and many more, with witty dialogues and sensitive portrayal.

Other notable series are Life Sahi Hai - S01 (The Lazy Studio), Marries Woman Diaries (SonyLiv), Die Trying (Amazon Prime), Fathers (TVF), Engineering Girls (Timeliners).

Unleashing the Power of AI Tools: From Learning Languages to Optimizing Code

In the last 18 months, my journey with AI tools like ChatGPT, Bing/GitHub Copilot, Microsoft Designer, and others has transformed from casua...