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12 Series You Must Stream Before 2021 Ends

On Indian Television this year, engaging serials like Anupamaa address deep-rooted issues like patriarchy and archaic norms of marriage. But not just in Indian languages, we have also seen some incredible international contents emerge in the digital space.

OTT streamers like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, ZEE5 and Sony LIV amongst ensured to keep their subscribers satisfied and engaged throughout the year.

With 2021 wrapping up, Filme Shilmy reflects on 12 Series that is worth a binge on OTT platforms. Since titles like Squid Game and Alice In Borderland have been popular, we’ve consciously done away with them!

Mumbai Diaries: 26/11

The horrors of 26/11 continue to haunt us. Many ventures have tried to explore the attacks, but nothing has proven as compelling as Mumbai Diaries 26/11.

Directed by Nikkhil Advani, in arguably his best work yet, the show provides a voice for the medical personnel during the ambush with an emphasis on the doctors’ internal struggles and challenges.

Packs some solid performances by Mohit Raina, Konkona Sen Sharma and Satyajeet Dubey, the realistic and viscerally engaging. series is streaming on Prime Video.

Hellbound

South Korean content is on a major high. With Parasite winning big at Oscars, the series Squid Game prominently streamed, supernatural-fantasy Hellbound is another title that has been quite popular.

Detective Jin Kyung-hoon (Yang Ik-joon) investigates the strange phenomenon of people receiving text messages regarding when they are going to hell, amidst a panicked media frenzy and social panic. Meanwhile, a fanatical religious sect is taking advantage of this new climate of fear.

Adapted by director Yeon Sang-ho from his own Korean webtoon (co-authored with cartoonist Choi Gyu-Seok), the Netflix Original skitters blithely across genres, but always underpinned by biting social commentary.

Grahan

The Disney+ Hotstar series is a thought-provoking and soul-stirring watch with a fantastic cast including Pavan Malhotra, Wamiqa Gabbi and Zoya Hussain.

Grahan unfolds in two timelines – Ranchi 2016 and Bokaro 1984. Events leading up to and following the assassination of the then Prime Minister on 31 October 1984 provoked riots instigated by the steel plant manager.

The horror and shadows of the carnage and violence against the Sikh community that followed this hate-fuelled rampage are still being felt in 2016.

Tabbar

Pavan Malhotra delivers another remarkable performance in SonyLIV’s Tabbar by Ajitpal Singh, which redefines the conventions of ‘family’.

It revolves around the family of Omkar Singh (Malhotra), a retired police constable. He runs a small grocery store and loves his wife Sargun (Supriya Pathak) and two sons dearly. However, things spoil for the happy family when their elder son Happy (Gagan Arora) shoots a local politician’s younger brother.

After the unfortunate incident, a tragedy of errors ensues. Since it’s a high-profile case, everyone is on the lookout for the murderer, but Omkar vows to go to any extent to protect his family.

Mare Of Easttown

HBO’s Mare Of Easttown bagged four Emmys and it marks Kate Winslet’s most distinctive work yet.

In a suburb of Philadelphia, police detective Mare Sheehan (Winslet) investigates the recent murder of a teenage mother while trying to keep her own life from falling apart.

From the layered depiction of dysfunctional families to visually striking cinematography, this series is gripping, thrilling and yet mesmerising at the same time.

Dil Bekaraar

Anuja Chauhan’s Those Pricey Thakur Girls is a novel that always had the potential to translate into a series. Lo and behold, we have Dil Bekaraar on Disney+ Hotstar.

Set in the 1980s, in Lutyens’ Delhi, the show centres around Debjani Thakur (Sahher Bambba) and Dylan Shekhawat (Akshay Oberoi) as they fall in love with their nosy families watching with bated breath.

Packed with nostalgia and social undertones, this series is certainly an entertaining watch.

House Of Secrets: The Burari Deaths

Netflix has been on a roll when it comes to true-crime documentaries. With Leena Yadav helming her debut doc, House Of Secrets: The Burari Deaths is engaging.

The three-part series explores the theories surrounding after a family of 11 were found hung in June 2018. It touches on several rampant topics including superstition and mental health awareness.

Be warned, however, it is certainly a triggering and disturbing watch. Viewer discretion is advised.

Maid

There is nothing more heartbreaking but yet empowering to see a marginalised individual fight back and try to make the best of circumstances. Maid on Netflix is one such series.

Aspiring writer Alex (Margaret Qualley) leaves her abusive boyfriend, moves herself and their toddler daughter into a shelter and gets a job cleaning houses for Value Maids. The series follows Alex’s struggles with raising a young child, dealing with both an abusive ex-boyfriend alongside her dysfunctional family and navigating the red tape of government assistance.

The story takes place near Seattle, Washington with the Alex character frequently commuting via ferry to the fictional Fisher Island. It is a poignant but gripping stream.

The Married Woman

There are very few series and contents which address homosexuality in India in a humanised and realistic manner. The Married Woman on ZEE5, for that reason, is a trailblazer with brilliant performances by Ridhi Dogra and Monica Dogra.

It is set in the backdrop of the 90s, where Astha (Ridhi) is a dutiful housewife and a mother. Peeplika (Monica) is an unconventional artist and has never been impressed by normal routines in her life. Astha sets out on a journey of self-discovery and meets Peeplika on the route.

Astha sets herself free from societal pressures and boundaries when she finds an intense connection with Peeplika, something that she always longed for. All this happens amidst the riots after the Babri Masjid demolition shook the nation.

True Story

Kevin Hart has always tickled the funny bones but with True Story, he stars in a darker style of content, which also ropes in Narcos‘ Eric Newman as executive producer.

A world-famous comedian (Hart) desperately searches for a way out after a night in Philadelphia with his brother threatens to sabotage more than his success.

With a compelling performance by Wesley Snipes, the thriller is certainly worth a stream on Netflix.

The Wheel Of Time

Games Of Thrones and Lord Of The Rings have been absolute wonders for the fantasy genre. Since these titles, we’ve been yearning for more such stories.

Prime Video’s The Wheel of Time follows Moiraine (Rosamund Pike), a member of the Aes Sedai, a powerful organisation of women who can use magic. She takes a group of four young people on a journey around the world, believing one of them might be the reincarnation of the Dragon, a powerful individual prophesied to either save the world or destroy it.

With Sony Pictures Television on board as co-producers, this epic series makes perfect escapism streaming and an intriguing binge!

Hawkeye

When we talk about escapism visuals, nothing beats superhero content – film or series. This year, there has been an influx of such stories emerging in cinemas.

Hawkeye is based on the Marvel Comics superhero of the same name, centring on the adventures of Young Avenger, Kate M. Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld), who took on the role after the original Avenger, Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner).

This 6-episode show, which streams on Disney+, unites a stellar cast including Vera Farmiga, is a guaranteed treat for all superhero fans. It is backed and written by Bridgerton‘s Jonathan Igla.

The latest seasons of Money Heist on Netflix, Inside Edge on Prime Video, Aarya on Disney+ Hotstar and ZEE5 have launched the first feminist ‘Desi noir’ anthology Qatil Haseenaon Ke Naam. It might be worth streaming these shows too.

Anuj Radia
Journalist and film enthusiast.

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