The COVID-19 pandemic and two lockdowns have made us all web show bingers. Gradually, the language barrier is erasing and people seated at home are getting to taste various regional and global flavours offered by passionate and renowned filmmakers. This year, too, India produced some great web shows that are worth binge-watching alone or with your full family.
After 12 months of pure entertainment, it is time to look back at shows that made headlines for performances, story and of course for keeping the audience hooked for hours. Be it Manoj Bajpayee-Samantha Ruth Prabhu's chase in The Family Man 2 or Sidharth Shukla-Sonia Rathee's romance in Broken But Beautiful 3, one cannot miss wolfing down these series.
Directed by Palash Vaswani and written by Durgesh Singh, SonyLIV's Gullak 2 was a heartwarming and easy watch. Narrated from the perspective of a piggybank, called Gullak in Hindi, the show stayed back with the audience for its relatable characters and subtle humour. Gullak 2, a show about the middle-class family's aspirations and imperfect relationships, released on January 15.
Bombay Begums marked Pooja Bhatt's return to acting and her first web project. The Alankrita Shrivastava-directed Netflix series released on March 8. Pooja along with Shahana Goswami, Amruta Subhash, Plabita Borthakur and Aadhya Anand led a story of survival, power, love and determination. The begums in the man's world strived to earn respect. Bombay Begums wasn't flawless but it was definitely worth a watch.
The Married Woman
Though flawed, Ridhi Dogra and Monica Dogra's The Married Woman was a step in the right direction. Based on the bestselling novel A Married Woman by Manju Kapur, the show orbited around Aastha, a married woman who was deprived of her husband's attention and love. Over a period of time, she fell in love with a theatre director. The narrative took a turn when Aastha grew closer to the director's wife Peeplika. The Married Woman was an 11 episodes show released on March 8.
Aspirants was yet another gem from the treasure of TVF. Led by Naveen Kasturia, Shivankit Singh Parihar, Abhilash Thapliyal and Sunny Hinduja, the show created by Arunabh Kumar-Shreyansh Pandey, directed by Apoorv Singh Karki and written by Deepesh Sumitra Jagdish highlighted the struggle, disappointments, the hope of UPSC aspirants. Aspirants released on April 7.
Broken But Beautiful 3
ALT Balaji's successful series Broken But Beautiful got its third installment this year. After Vikrant Massey and Harleen Sethi's exit, the show was taken forward by Sidharth Shukla and Sonia Rathee. The show was about Agastya Rao, a hot-headed, impulsive theatre director, and Rumi Desai, a girl with all monetary privileges but deprived of love. Sparks flew when both the worlds collided. Broken But Beautiful 3 was Sidharth's first and last web show. It was directed by Priyanka Ghose and released on May 29.
The Family Man 2
One of the best and thrilling web shows of the year is The Family Man 2. It was bigger, better and engaging. The directors of the series were Raj-DK and Suparn Verma. While Manoj Bajpayee and Sharib Hashmi returned as Srikant and JK, Samantha Ruth Prabhu joined the show as Raji, the antagonist. Set in Mumbai and Chennai, The Family Man 2 focused on the struggle of Eelam Tamils. The 9-episode show had all the elements to make it a blockbuster. Well, it's time we gear up for the third season.
Set against the backdrop of the 1984 anti-Sikh Riots, Grahan, directed by Ranjan Chandel starred Pavan Malhotra, Zoya Hussain, Anshuman Pushkar, Wamiqa Gabbi, Teekam Joshi, Nandish Sandhu and Sahidur Rahman. Though not a flawless show, Grahan stood out for telling a riveting story of a righteous IPS officer who was torn between her love for her father and her loyalty towards her service. The show released on Disney+Hotstar on June 24.
Set in the fictional town of Rudrakhand, Ronit Roy and Richa Chadha's Candy was an engrossing thriller. Directed by Ashish R. Shukla, the Voot Select web show was based on a story by Agrim Joshi and Debojit Das Purkayastha. It revolved around murder, corruption and drugs. With thrilling twists and turns, Candy was one of the best Indian shows to release in 2021. It premiered on September 8.
Mumbai Diaries 26/11
26/11 Mumbai Terrorist Attacks remains one of the horrific incidents of all time. While one knows about the role the police and anti-terrorism squad had to play, but not many are fully aware of what happened in private and government hospitals post the blasts. The makers of Amazon Prime Video's Mumbai Diaries 26/11 took it upon themselves to shed light on the trauma and chaos. It offered the perspective of the medical staff who rallied to save victims, cops and all those affected. The 8 episodes show was directed by Nikkhil Advani and Nikhil Gonsalves. It released on September 9. Mohit Raina, Konkona Sensharma, Shreya Dhanwanthary, Natasha Bharadwaj, Tina Desai, Satyajeet Dubey, Mrunmayee Deshpande and Prakash Belawadi led Mumbai Diaries 26/11.
Tabbar was one of the finest shows made in India this year. The story focused on the family of Omkar Singh, a retired police constable, who had a small grocery store. He loved his wife dearly and had two sons. However, the family went through a tough phase when their elder son shot a local politician's younger brother. As trouble ensued on the family, Omkar stepped forward to protect them. Tabbar, directed by Ajitpal Singh, was led by Pavan Malhotra, Supriya Pathak, Gagan Arora, Sahil Mehta, Ranvir Shorey and Rohit Khurana. It released on SonyLIV on October 15.
Special Ops 1.5: The Himmat Story
Kay Kay Menon teamed up with Neeraj Pandey to trace the origin story of his Special Ops character Himmat Singh in the spin-off series Special Ops 1.5. The 4-episode series directed by Shivam Nair also stars Aftab Shivdasani, Gautami Kapoor, Parmeet Sethi, Vinay Pathak, Kali Prasad Mukherjee, Vijay Vikram Singh and Adil Khan. Special Ops 1.5: The Himmat Story released on Disney+Hotstar on November 12.
MX Player's Matsya Kaand was one of the most-talked-about web shows of 2021. Directed by Ajay Bhuyan, the 11 episodes show starred Ravi Dubey, Ravi Kishan and Piyush Mishra in central roles. Matsya Kaand revolved around a con artist named Matsya Thanda, who pulled off some of the biggest and most unique cons in the country, by disguising himself. However, ACP Tejraj Singh vowed to track him down. Matsya Kaand released on November 18.
Set in the fictional town of Sironah, Raveena Tandon, Parambrata Chattopadhyay and Ashutosh Rana's Aranyak was a surprise package. In her web debut, Raveena as SHO Kasturi Dogra tackled the missing case of a French tourist's 19 years old daughter with Angad Malik. Directed by Vinay Waikul, written by Charudutt Acharya and produced by Ramesh Sippy and Siddharth Roy Kapur, the eight-episode series left the audience on the edge of their seats. Aranyak premiered on Netflix on December 10.
Sushmita Sen returned as the mighty and powerful Aarya in Ram Madhvani's Aarya Season 2 on Disney+Hotstar. The eight-episode series premiered on December 10. The story picked from where the first season ended. Aarya had to return to India as the prime witness after getting her father and brother arrested for the assassination of her husband Tej. But, the situation for her wasn't favourable. She had to sharpen her claws for the protection of her children. Watch Aarya 2 for flawless performances by the actors and Sushmita in the last episode.