If you take a look at all the upcoming releases for 2021, then there's a lot to be excited about. But, in the six months that have gone by, there have been a fair share of Hindi and English language shows that have given us a reason, other than work, to be hooked to our laptop screens:
TVF's latest web series takes on the tough and grueling journey of Civil Service aspirants in India, while also exploring the joys (and failures) of friendship and heartbreak. Relatable, honest, and thoroughly enjoyable, Aspirants is yet another gem in TVF's illustrious kitty.
2. Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar
Dibakar Banerjee's latest offering, co-written with Varun Grover, is a slow-paced crime thriller that exposes the gender divide that still plagues our society. But, in trademark Banerjee style, it does so in a clever, subtle manner, that leaves you pondering over your own role in enabling patriarchy.
3. Mare Of Easttown
A gripping crime thriller starring Kate Winslet in the lead role, Mare of Easttown has emerged as one of the finest and most unexpected hits of the year. With an engaging, well-developed plot and stellar performances, Mare of Easttown is a thriller that constantly keeps you guessing!
4. Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi
Though the film made rounds of film festivals back in 2019, it finally reached the masses through Netflix this year. A poignant look at how grief affects families, the film beautifully captured the idiosyncrasies of a typical middle-class family, while also talking about the importance of awarding women their freedom. Simply put, Seema Pahwa's directorial debut is much like her performances, relatable, heartwarming, and without a doubt, memorable.
5. 1232 KMS
Providing a harrowing look at the long, miserable journey that Indian migrants undertook during the lockdown, 1232 KMS is not an easy watch, but most definitely an important one. Directed by Vinod Kapri, the documentary follows a group of migrants as they are forced to head from Delhi (Ghaziabad) to Bihar (Saharsa), on bicycles, to reach home.
6. Shadow & Bone
Adding a much-needed dose of magic to the year 2021, Shadow and Bone was a perfect show to binge-watch, that thankfully, also stayed true to the source material. The brilliant star cast and interesting plot twists made this a fantasy series we loved getting lost in.
7. Alma Matters
While shows like Kota Factory and Laakhon Mein Ek (S1) did a brilliant job of exposing the struggles of students preparing for IIT coaching, Netflix's Alma Matters takes us to the reality of IIT itself. The documentary does suffer from unequal representation, but ultimately, makes for a hard-hitting, honest look at life in one of India's top colleges.
8. Geeli Pucchi (Ajeeb Daastaans)
Though the first two stories in this Netflix anthology left a lot to be desired, the last two more than made up for it, especially Neeraj Ghaywan's segment, Geeli Pucchi. Watching Konkona Sen Sharma flex those acting muscles is always a treat, and Aditi Rao Hydari was her perfect partner-in-crime in this delightful short story that cleverly took on issues of caste and sexuality in India.
9. The Serpent
Based on the life of serial killer Charles Sobhraj, this British crime drama boasts of perfect casting and an engaging storyline. More importantly, it stays true to the real, albeit shocking events of Sobhraj's life, without glorifying them.
10. Gullak S2
A delightful, comedy series that beautifully brought alive life in a typical Indian middle-class family, Gullak is the kind of family comedy that disappeared from our TVs long ago, but that our hearts never stopped missing. To those of you looking to recreate family time, without viewing Ramayan, Gullak is the perfect pick!
11. Vande Bharat Documentary
Discovery+'s documentary Vande Bharat Flight IX1344: Hope To Survival left you angry, shocked, and ultimately disappointed at how little value authorities and politicians place on human lives. While stories of human solidarity leave you emotional, Vande Bharat also serves as a brutal reminder of why we need greater accountability and action from the people in charge.
For those of us still struggling to come to terms with the ending of Avengers: Endgame, WandaVision became the glue that finally put together the '3000' broken pieces of our hearts. Fuelling our nostalgia for sitcoms, while also serving us with brilliant easter eggs, WandaVision was a brilliant show, from start to end.
13. The Falcon and The Winter Soldier
Okay, WandaVision was great. But if we're talking about a classic Marvel treat, then The Falcon and The Winter Soldier has to be it. With trademark wit, slick action sequences, and moments that left you wiping away tears, this MCU show quickly made its way to becoming an all-time favourite.
14. Bombay Begums
Bombay Begums had areas where it lagged (unrealistic school children, token minority representation, etc.) but overall, it delivered a story that touched upon various issues mainstream cinema still shies away from (Menopause, miscarriage, etc.). And it gave us female characters who were relatable, honest, and shattered the idea of the 'adarsh nari'.
It's only been half a year, but these shows and movies sure did their bit in making our lockdown a little easier.