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Red Hot

What: Street Food

Where: Netflix

Who: In its 9 episodes, this new original documentary travels to nine countries in Asia and focuses on select street food masters. It starts off with Bangkok and then travels to Osaka in Japan, Delhi, Yogyakarta in Indonesia, Chiayi in Taiwan, Seoul, Ho Chi Minh City, Singapore and finishes with Cebu City in Phillippines. In each of these cities, the show not only features those chosen street cooks but also puts the spotlight on certain food items like the Gudeg (Braised Jackfruit) in Indonesia or the Turkey Rice in Taiwan or the Mung Bean Pancake in Seoul.

Why: There have been countless shows on TV – TLC and Fox Life leading the pack – that have been celebrating the street food of Asia. There have been innumerable shows on Indian TV channels which have travelled to obscure small towns to dig out hidden culinary gems on carts. So, is Netflix a little too late in finally getting into the street food game with an original documentary? Not really. Because besides the obvious drool-inducing food shots in close-ups juxtaposed with stunning city skylines, the series digs deep into the history and culture of the place by zeroing in on these select roadside masterchefs.

Take Jay Fai in Bangkok who is in her 70s and looks like this fierce warrior behind the charcoal fire wearing a black beanie, ski goggles and bright red lipstick, cooking every single dish that gets served in her legendary stall every night. From Tom Yum Soup to Crab Omelette, her dishes have people coming from far and wide. Through her, the show highlights how street food is integral to daily Thai life and how many like Aunty Fai have been able to turn their lives around by stirring up some noodles in their greasy woks.

Why Not: The obvious question that will linger on your mind is whether one chaat stall, one nihari stall and one chola batura stall capture the street food smorgasbord of Delhi, let alone India. Well, it’s a start and a good start which let the show talk about the Mughal and Rajput roots of the city. Maybe next season, Street Food will travel to a Mumbai or a Kolkata and widen its culture kadai.

Just Dropped

What: Bonding

Where: Netflix

Who: A show about a psychology grad student, who moonlights as a dominatrix, and her gay best friend from high school getting together to do weird sexual experiments on kinky customers, Bonding is unlike anything you have seen on TV before. At least, not with a storyline. Zoe Levin (Red Band Society) plays Tiffany Chester, an introvert student, who becomes this vivacious whip-holding all-leather dominatrix named Mistress May every night. Brendan Scannell, who’s a stand-up comedian in real life, plays a failed stand-up comedian Pete who is forced to get into the BDSM game to pay his bills.

Why: This is clearly Sex Education on steroids. And by steroids I mean peeing on people and putting fingers up people’s buttholes. It’s, of course, done with a whole lot of humour. The best thing about Bonding is that it is unapologetic and non-judgemental in its dealings with sexual perversions and fetishes. Maybe because the show is created by a man (Rightor Doyle) from his own real-life experiences as an assistant to a dominatrix.

And for a show with BDSM as the subject, Bonding has an incredible amount of heart. The chemistry between Levin and Scannell – Tiff and Pete have a fascinating history – is what propels the show ahead and while the sexual bits definitely provide the piquant punctuations to the episodes, they are not the only things about it. If you don’t outrage instantly over what’s happening on the screen in front of you, you just might enjoy the series.

Did You Know

The Steven Spielberg-directed all-time favourite movie ET (1982) is now streaming on Netflix.

Season 1 of the talk show Larry King Now is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

The first two seasons of Harlots, the series inspired by The Covent Garden Ladies, are now streaming on Sony LIV.

Jean-Luc Godard’s Le Petit Soldat (1963) and Made in USA (1966), both starring Anna Karina, are now streaming on Mubi.

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