2021 was yet another year in our lives where most of us were locked up for a large part of the year in our homes and most of the entertainment that was available to us also came through OTT platforms. This included both movies and web series and there was more content up there to consume than time available to get to all of them. Quantity however did not commensurate with quality and the web series content particularly paled given the previous year had given us content like Panchayat and Scam 1992. There were a few web series however that were really good and stood out on merit of their making and performances, and here we look at the 5 Best Indian Web Series of the year. This is again a very personal list and based on what I have watched in the year. It is hence worthwhile to mention that while in cinema, I indulged into a lot of great movies from all over India including Malayalam, Tamil, Marathi etc., my web series watching for Indian shows was more restricted to Hindi, English and Bangla only, so the list will be reflective of that. Also to be noted that there are a couple of critically acclaimed series that I have not watched this year and hence cannot comment how they are. This includes the hindi show Family Man Season 2 (skipped it because Season 1 did not work for me) and bangla web series Mandar (on the watchlist but haven’t got there yet). So based on whatever I have seen and liked, here goes my top picks for the year.
Missed Opportunities – Kota Factory Season 2, Dil Bekaraar
Honorable Mention – Mumbai Diaries 26/11 (Nikhil Advani | Amazon Prime Video), Birahi (Pradipta Bhattacharya | YouTube), Little Things Season 4 (Dhruv Sehgal | Netflix)
05. Aranyak | Vinay Waikul | Netflix
A gritty thriller, Aranyak does well in terms of world building, setting up the atmospherics and creating suspicious characters all around you. It falters in terms of drawing the closures to an extent, and some plot points end up feeling convoluted, but that lacuna gets backfilled by some very strong performances especially by Parambrata Chatterjee and Raveena Tandon. A good watch, could have been better, though not sure if I am too excited about the next season of the show.
04. Gullak Season 2 | Palash Vaswani | SonyLIV
In a world where web content is so heavily dominated by dark and gritty and edgy, shows like Gullak are a fresh breath of air. What has worked wonderfully for Gullak in both its seasons so far is how well it sets itself deeply into the milieu and how authentic the rustic charm of the small town world feels in the show. Simple, heartwarming story telling, and terrific performances from Jameel Khan, Geetanjali Kulkarni, Vaibhav Raj Gupta, Harsh Mayar and the rest of the cast, bring more of the Mishra family please.
03. Aarya Season 2 | Ram Madhvani | DisneyPlus Hotstar
We have come to love Aarya and Sushmita Sen (they have become one and the same anyway) in the first season of the show and that only gets further solidified in the new season of Aarya. This is the story of Aarya transforming from the fiercely protective mother to the be all Godmother for all, and Sushmita Sen delivers reaches there with elan. Yes, the writing of this season is possibly not as holistic as the last one, especially with the characters around Aarya, but it is still a very strong show and makes us want to continue riding this crazy topsy turvy journey with Aarya
02. Break Point | Nitesh Tiwari, Ashwini Iyer Tiwari | Zee5
Over years we have come to love the game and the camaraderie of both Leader Peas and Mahesh Bhupathi and their rise to the top, and we were equally heartbroken when they fell apart from each other’s good books in the most dramatic way. Break Point brings in all of that together sharing the perspective right from the two tennis rockstars who lived it all and saw it all fall apart. The show stands out because it feels authentic, real and candid through and through, both when Lee and Hesh remember the good times and bad, and with more perspectives coming in from their well wishers we get a more well rounded view of their overall journey. A must watch docu-series this one, amongst the best to have come from the world of Indian sports.
01. Tabbar | Harman Wadala | SonyLIV
Tabbar is certainly the best web series that has come out of India in 2021 and it leaves every one behind by quite a distance. A brilliantly told story of a retired police constable, his wife and their two sons, and what the old man can do to keep his family safe and secure from the most complex web of problems that they find themselves entangled in, the show rises to greater heights with superlatively perceptive performances by both Pavan Malhotra and Supriya Pathak. They are very ably supported by the rest of the fabulous ensemble who all come together to fight and save each other from the dark world of drugs, crime, ill perceived trust and confidence and the ultimate power of a strong family standing with each other. This is a must watch.
So these were my picks for the best web series of the year. What were yours? Please share your thoughts.
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