Indian Entertainment on Netflix with Substance

 

Here’s the deal – there is a lot of international programming on Netflix, and most of it is bad going by what I know about Indian movies. This isn’t the crème de la crème, in fact the opposite. Love Shah Rukh khan? Well, don’t go on Netflix – that’s where they’ve listed all his flops! I’m not sure if people understand what Netflix is? It isn’t Youtube. It’s a portal where they showcase select entertainment from across the globe. What does this mean? There are people on this platform who get their first glimpse into what entertainment is like ‘everywhere else’. Here is where you get responsible and put your best foot forward. I may not know anything about Netflix’s internal process, but I just feel like there should be some serious regulation here.

Here’s my personal pick –

  1. Stories by Rabindranath Tagore (Serial) – Each gem is filmed staying true to the old classic as penned by the virtuoso. The tragedy is how this does not seem dated, when it should. The social evils from Tagore’s time are still around today, still hugging the poverty line, still whispered about everywhere else.
  2. Rustom (Movie) – The courtroom drama is the best I’ve ever seen in an Indian movie. A man being tried for killing his wife’s lover. The dialogue rings true and the actors aren’t bad either, donning their roles of the yesteryear characters with the help of some superb costume design.
  3. Neerja (Movie) – “Neerja” is based on the true story of a flight attendant who fought terrorists on board a Pan Am flight from New Delhi. This heroic tale has been told over and over, especially in India, yet this depiction on film for the very first time is both timely and refreshing. The retelling has been handled well, and the actors do not fail to impress. A must see.
  4. Madras Café (Movie) – While they don’t tell you this, this story is obviously about the assassination of India’s Prime Minister of the 90’s, Mr. Rajiv Gandhi. You’ve read all about the suicide bombers and their accomplices who were apprehended soon after, but here is the whole story. As the CBI officer on the case, who goes undercover in Sri Lanka, infiltrating the L.T.T.E, and loses so much trying to prevent exactly such a catastrophe, John Abraham delivers the drama the role demands with élan.  From a confident detective, to a shattered and disillusioned man taken off the case for no mistake of his own, he becomes the backbone of this crime drama that depicts the worst Indian tragedy since the assassination of Indira Gandhi. The story also reveals hard to digest aspects of the entire conspiracy going to the core, the inner workings of the terror organization in Sri Lanka, their surprising patrons, and their chilling motives.
  5. Kahani (Movie) – This is a thriller from start to finish, and it is the only one with a female carrying the plot from start to finish. Viday Balan amazes as a pregnant woman who travels all the way from London to Calcutta, alone, looking for her husband. Suspecting he’s been abducted, she tirelessly sets about retracing his footsteps, and you are so drawn into this visual, you fail to notice the twist that takes your breath away. Another must see.
  6. A Decent Arrangement (Movie) – Years after “Outsourced” comes another Indian comedy that captures the soul of Indianism in its rawest form. If you liked “Outsourced”, you must watch this movie which has a bonus – it has Shabana Azmi in it. The protagonist, an Indian American, travels to his hometown in India to choose a wife the Indian way, settling for an arranged marriage. With his mind made up, he meets every girl his aunt has chosen for him until the inevitable happens and he meets his real self which he only then realizes can never be truly Indian at heart.  This ‘confused’ desi story has nailed every aspect of the ‘confusion’ with careful detail. The ending does not disappoint.   
  7. Maroon (Movie) – There aren’t too many Indian stories of psychological suspense. This one, set in just one house, is unique and surprisingly non-derivative. A man deals with the fact that his wife has gone missing. As the hours pass, he turns maniacal while projecting an eerie outwardly calm. His manic episodes reveal a lot about the true nature of the crime.
  8. Pink (Movie) – After years, comes another superb performance from India’s great – the inimitable Amitabh Bachchan. I say years, because I really could not enjoy those ‘Bhoothnath’ tales, and while ‘Piku’ wasn’t bad he did have to share the frame with Deepika Padukone a lot. This movie about seeking justice for a rape victim revolves around Bachchan’s role, the lawyer who comes out of retirement just because he cannot tolerate the atrocity he witnesses, when one day he sees these neighbors being intimidated by the alleged rapists. The movie does justice to the story, and stays as close to reality as one has never been accustomed to seeing in a mainstream entertainer.