If one says that OTT saved the entertainment industry in 2020, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration. With cinema halls closed due to the pandemic, it was only through the OTT route that people could take a flight of fancy. Going by the trends, thrillers were one genre that the audiences enjoyed the most. Here’s a look at the web series that ruled the OTT space…
Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story
A financial crime drama on SonyLIV by Hansal Mehta, this one stole the viewers’ hearts. The rise and fall of the big bull aka Hanshad Mehta isn’t a new story. But dextrous writing, deft direction and effortless acting made this one the top trending web series of 2020. All of a sudden actor Pratik Gandhi became a household name with this series. Critically acclaimed and adored by audiences, this one rocked the OTT space with IMDb rating of 9.4.
A comedy drama, this one made it to the list of the most-enjoyed shows this year. This Amazon Prime Video show, woven around a fresh engineering graduate who took the job of a panchayat secretary in a remote Uttar Pradesh village, was helmed by Deepak Kumar Mishra. Panchayat, with a cast including Jitendra Kumar, Raghubir Yadav and Neena Gupta, offered a heart-warming story.
Based on Tarun Tejpal’s The Story of My Assassin, this Amazon Prime’s show was backed by Anushka Sharma. A police story woven with mythological undertones, this Jaideep Ahlawat, Gul Panag, Neeraj Kabi and Abhishek Banerjee-starrer was directed by Avinash Arun and Prosit Roy. The series revealed Machiavellian machinations of the powerful — those who could change the narrative to suit their interests.
Amazon Prime Video’s musical romantic drama Bandish Bandits, helmed by director Anand Tiwari, juxtaposed overnight pop acclaim and classical tradition. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy created wonderful scores that added to the overall charm. That Naseeruddin Shah would give a superb act was a given, but Ritwik Bhowmik and Shreya Chaudhary also gave memorable performances.
Hotstar Special Aarya marked the debut of Sushmita Sen on the OTT platform, ably supported by Vikas Kumar and Namit Das. Interestingly, it saw Chandrachur Singh make a comeback to the screen too. Based on Dutch series Penoza, directed by Ram Madhvani, Sandeep Modi and Vinod Rawat, this family drama, with an overdose of Hindi film songs, engaged the viewer, but the gay angle, the mistress bit, the foreigner son-in-law Bob and the Bhagavad Gita teachings seemed superimposed. Each episode of the nine-part series ended with a bait, but the overall impact was far from impressive.
Chills & Thrills
Neeraj Pandey, who has cemented his position in the industry with films like A Wednesday, Special 26, Baby and M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story also won the OTT space with Disney+ Hotstar’s Special OPS. This espionage thriller comes alive on screen with Revathi Pillai, Kay Kay Menon, Karan Tacker and Vipul Gupta in key roles. Pandey, who has also co-written the series, has a fairly good insight into the working of our intelligence agencies. The net result was he did weave a well-scripted and engaging drama.
Taj Mahal 1989
Netflix outing Taj Mahal 1989 evokes nostalgia and tosses up societal issues in a story that captures the India of 80s as well as 90s. Directed and written by Pushpendra Nath Misra, it has Neeraj Kabi, Geetanjali Kulkarni, Sheeba Chaddha and Danish Husain in key roles. The story is set in Lucknow.
The story of a fake godman, MX Player’s Aashram, directed by Prakash Jha, brings back Bobby Deol into the spotlight with Chandan Roy Sanyal and Aditi Sudhir Pohankar as co-stars. A socio-political drama, this one revealed the real life of conmen. Prakash Jha kept the viewer invested in the second part of Aashram, but the prominent aftertaste post the second season was déjà vu!
The Forgotten Army — Azaadi Ke Liye
Directed by Kabir Khan, this web series on Amazon Prime Video was based on Indian National Army’s clarion call of Chalo Dilli, led by Subhash Chandra Bose. Sunny Kaushal and Sharvari Wagh took one back to the Independence struggle and INA soldiers’ courageous fight against the British. Shah Rukh Khan turned narrator for this one.
Jamtara: Sabka Number Ayega
A phishing scam set in a remote village of Jamtara in Jharkhand, this Netflix drama was directed by Soumendra Padhi. It has Amit Sial, Dibyendu Bhattacharya, Aksha Pardasany and Sparsh Shrivastav in the main roles. A fascinating underdog story was what this one turned out to be.
By no means is this list exhaustive, as OTT is a huge playing field — A Simple Murder, She, Asur, High and Mr. Family Man were some of the other shows that engaged the viewers.