The onset of web series in India gave a platform to novel stories and allowed new talent to emerge . It also gave space to underrated actors to really flex those acting muscles, while stars could break free of stereotypes, and seasoned actors made comebacks that actually had us smiling from ear to ear.
But in the midst of all that OTT got right, was the age-old problem - of relying on tropes and sub-standard storytelling to "sell a show". The result - shows that managed to waste an excellent star cast, and at times, even a good plot.
A political thriller starring the likes of Saif Ali Khan (who reinvented both, himself, and Bollywood's ideas of heroic cops with Netflix India's first Hindi original, Sacred Games ), Dimple Kapadia, Sunil Grover, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, etc. had all great performers... and that's about all it had. With tired storytelling and cliched plot twists, Tandav left me more disappointed than even the baseless controversy it stirred.
2. Kaun Banegi Shikharwati?
From the second the show's trailer dropped , it raised my expectations. From an interesting plot to a star cast that included veteran actors like Naseeruddin Shah and Brijendra Kala, and stars from our childhood, like Lara Dutta and Soha Ali Khan, the show's trailer made it appear that it was checking all the boxes. The result, however, hardly checked any of the boxes that are integral to a good story.
3. Bard of Blood
Emraan Hashmi, Sobhita Dhulipal, Jaideep Ahlawat, Kirti Kulhari, and Vineet Kumar Singh - you don't get a better star cast than this, do you? Sadly, you do get (and in fact, we do have), better spy thrillers than Bard of Blood . Even without the comparison with The Family Man , the show's predictable, and frankly, abysmal writing, let it down completely.
4. Ranjish Hi Sahi
Both Tahir Raj Bhasin and Amrita Puri are part of the industry's underrated actors group - though it's certainly heartening to see Bhasin get meatier roles and better projects. What is not great though, is to see his talent, along with Amrita Puri and Amala Paul's, be wasted in a story that proved difficult to sit through - despite a promising premise.
5. Call My Agent: Bollywood
I have nothing against adaptations because I firmly believe that good stories should reach the masses, but not in the way Call My Agent: Bollywood did - by absolutely butchering a brilliant and funny show with an illogical adaptation that questioned the intelligence of both, the audience and the star cast.
From the moment I heard about the show, I had its release date bookmarked - because that's the kind of fan Gulshan Devaiah has in me. And because I thoroughly enjoy black comedies. Sadly, even my ardent fandom couldn't blind me to the disappointing mess of a story. Despite having all the elements to become an out-of-box comedy, the show's execution left a lot to be desired.
Let me start by saying that yes, Betaal wasn't as disappointing as many of the other shows on the list. And considering our industry's hit-and-miss relation with horror, it was worth a watch indeed. But did it utilize the amazing talent on board? Sadly, not really because the unnecessarily convoluted plotline, mixed with a perceptible lack of thrill, let down even their amazing performance.
Even though I love watching Shefali Shah act, I could not enjoy Human in any way. It was painfully tedious to sit through, had far too many subplots and not enough logic, and managed to make a mockery of the medical community. Though Kirti Kulhari shined in her role (like most of her past performances), the show was extremely disappointing- especially paling in comparison to medical dramas like Mumbai 26/11 and Laakhon Mein Ek S2 (that were undoubtedly better developed).
9. Out Of Love
The news that Purab Kohli and Rasika Dugal are coming together in a story directed by Tigmanshu Dhulia was music to my ears. The show, however, turned out to be a bad remix. An adaptation of Doctor Foster , the show failed to live up to the original - becoming a muddling, lackluster drama rather than a gripping commentary on infidelity and rage.
OTT channels are a great platform and there's a lot that many web series got right. But, the rising popularity of the medium does seem to correlate directly to the falling standard of some of the shows.
And that, sadly, indicates a step into the same direction our TV shows took - where, from the age of shows like Alpviram, Hubahu , etc. we transcended to the age of shows like Naagin and Sasural Simar Ka . Hopefully, that doesn't repeat on OTT because one failed medium is more than enough.