The internet is the new TV. At least for those of us who had long ditched the television set and turned to the many weird and wonderful foreign shows available on the web. The arrival of international video-on-demand services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video in India — both launched in 2016 — has changed the game. Other Indian channels such as Hotstar and ALTBalaji have followed. Within a short span, there has been an explosion of web series’; films, of different languages, can now be viewed on these platforms, soon after their theatrical release. We watch everything so that you don’t have to, and starting this month, will recommend a list of Indian shows, feature films and documentaries available online.
Pushpavalli, Web series
Comedian Sumukhi Suresh features in the title role of Pushpavalli, the funniest Indian web show around, which she is also the creator of. Pushpavalli is about a Tamil girl who moves to Bengaluru with a new job as she tries to escape her conservative mother’s pressure of getting her married. Overweight, delusional and resourceful, Pushpavalli has motives of her own. And like its protagonist, the show has many surprises up its sleeve: including its tackling of such issues as stalking. Directed by Debbie Rao, the 8 episode-show has an excellent cast — including comic Naveen Richard, who is flat-out hilarious as the owner of a children’s library and Pushpavalli’s short-fused boss.
Aruvi, Feature Film (Tamil)
A girl, whose name means waterfall, grows up in a village. She goes to the city when she grows up. Can she handle this new globalised world with all its toxicity? Debutant director Arun Prabhu Purushothaman brings many twists to the old tale of the simple girl in the big city. Running a bit over 2 hours, Aruvi’s epic, surreal quality doesn’t interfere with its clear storytelling.
Ask the Sexpert, Documentary
There are few newspaper columns in India which are as entertaining and revealing(in terms of the sexual inner lives of the average Indian) as sexologist Mahinder Watsa’s ‘Ask the Sexpert’. Vaishali Sinha’s documentary of the same name is a fitting tribute to the 93-year old man, who is a mini-celebrity of sorts and whose progressiveness, sometimes, gets uncomfortable for the people around him.
The Test Case, Web series
The new show makes a case for gender equality by transporting a woman it to the most masculine of places: the army. It takes off from a real-life announcement President Pranab Mukherjee had made in 2016, that allowed women to be inducted in combat roles in all sections in the armed forces. Nimrat Kaur is solid as Captain Shikha Sharma, the wishfully imagined first Indian Female Combat Officer, and so is the rest of the cast that includes Atul Kulkarni, Rahul Dev among others.