The Web Series revolution in India
The Indian web series scenario is having its moment in the sun right now with content pouring in like never before. While players like The Viral Fever (TVF) were the pioneers in the space and continue to lead the fray with their wonderful content, established production houses such as Yash Raj Films have also joined the bandwagon fuelling this new gold rush. The interesting thing about these web series is their presence across varied genres ranging from romantic comedies to fashion sleuths. We explore some of the best series to have come out of India along with a few interesting disappointments.
The ones you cannot miss
Mockumentaries make the job of suffering fools very easy. Often directors have explored this to brilliant effect as in Woody Allen’s masterpiece Zelig or the cultural phenomenon Rob Reiner’s This is spinal tap. In India this genre has just started catching up and with wonderful results, as is the case with this brilliant web series produced by Dice Media and written, directed and acted in by Sudev Nair. He plays a charmless protagonist with such unbridled optimism that you cannot help but ask for more. The series explores few days in the life of another quintessential “Bombay Struggler” (though Nero our hero hates even that phrase not because it is derogatory but because there is not much struggle going on for him, economics wise). Not Fit is consistently funny with gags packed to the brim. It also has one of the best supporting casts that you will come across on any web series. This one is destined to be a cult classic.
The reigning king in the web series space, TVF, made this series in 2014 tying up with commonfloor.com and it partnered up with Ola Cabs for season 2. This series is about a couple deeply in love but still feeling their way to marriage. Written by Biswapati Sarkar this series has constantly subverted expectations and has developed a devoted fan following. While Season 1 was outright comedy, season 2 so far has been traversing more dramatic territories but not without offering its viewers catchphrases that they can hold on to. TVF’s content has always been progressive but it took a hilarious route to explain machismo in the modern world with its now ubiquitous line, “Be the man, cry like a bitch”. If that is not progress than what is?
Anyone who in any capacity was present on Internet during the summer of 2015 was either regaled or confused by a line that kept popping up all over social media, “Tu beer hai”. No advertisement company worth its salt can come up with a catchphrase having such instant recall for its brand as Pitchers has done for Kingfisher Beer. Set in the world of entrepreneurs and startups, it takes a dig at those valuations which are being pulled out of thin air all the time but it also does something special for a species much derided in today’s time, the engineers. It offers them sympathy. Written by Biswapati Sarkar and TVF’s founder Arunabh Kumar and directed by Amit Golani, this one comes highly recommended.
Bang Baaja Baraat
YRF entered the web-series fray with BBB with its subsidiary Y-Films putting its first show up on YouTube to much applause. Co-written by Sumeet Vyas, Amritpal Bindra and Anand Tiwari, with the latter also directing it with much flair and gloss. As expected from the giant production house, the production quality on this one is top notch. Featuring a cast of good actors and a fun script about a couple trying to get their destination wedding just right while things around them perpetually threaten to fall into pieces, this one managed to grab eyeballs from the word go.
This series created by Vishwajoy Mukherjee and Akash Mehta for ScoopWhoop is about three Delhi University students starting a late night food delivery service. Though it starts with its comfortably stereotyped characters as in the usual pseudo intellectual Bengali and loud but not so bright Punjabi guy, it eventually finds it way to claim enough viewers from the “Youth” segment. Set in Delhi University and exploring the locales, this series is bound to get repeat viewing from its target segment. Production values are not consistent throughout but you can give it a go.
A Man’s World
This was a commendable effort for its thoughtful theme. Written and directed by Vikram Gupta and produced by Y-Films, this web series questions and explores the gender equations by inverting the roles as per the wishes of our protagonist. Much to his dismay he finds that the world is not as wonderful as he expected it to be once the shoe is on the other foot. This one had a potential for a much nuanced take on gender discrimination however as the series progressed it just felt as if a single idea was being stretched out of its skin. Nonetheless an appreciable effort from Y-films again.
If you somehow manage to take away the mumbled wisdom from Lena Dunham’s Girls’ character Shoshanna, you might end up with the titular character of this web-series. Deported from the US on a drug charge (the cliché moment does a double take when she reveals that the drug did not belong to her anyway), Alisha ends up in Mumbai. Though the series make much of its first female detective and fashion police angle but with the “detective” misquoting Marilyn Monroe from the get go this could really be hate watched for its mis-steps. Overall the series has managed to gather some eyeballs but it seriously flounders so much potential that you wish it had pulled up its socks to produce much better content. Produced by Blush we hope this one comes back with finer content because the idea wasn’t that bad.
One for the ages
Bring on the night
When MTV was seriously cool and had its mojo intact it produced content from time to time that could be passed onto generations without the risk of being passé. Bring on the night is one such MTV offering about few friends getting together to turn a 200-year-old heritage building into an all night party club. This series, while it lasted for just one season, still continues to inspire devotion from children of 90s. It was irreverent, funny, quirky before the word got abused but most of all, it was at ease with itself, a quality missing from most of the productions these days as they huff and pant their way into cultural obscureness.
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