Web series that rose to unscaled heights in 2020

'Tis the year of OTT

Cinema

December 31, 2020

/ By / New Delhi

Web series that rose to unscaled heights in 2020

The entertainment industry churned out brilliant web-series with intricately woven and multi-layered plots

From Scam 1992 to Paatal Lok, 2020 will go down as a year of unlocking creativity in India’s web-series.

While everyone was locked inside homes and the theatres shut, OTT dominated the screens this year. The entertainment industry churned out brilliant web-series with intricately woven and multi-layered plots that hooked the audience for the entire lockdown. The dramatic hooks and extraordinary direction and scripts, along with some high quality acting, propelled  these web-series to unforgettable heights.

Scam 1992

Pratik Gandhi starrer Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story is the story of Harshad Mehta, a stock broker, who was the primary accused in the 1992 Indian stock market scam on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE). The character Harshad Mehta siphons off money to the tune of USD 1.4 billion by exploiting market loopholes. Gandhi gained widespread critical acclaim in 2020 due to his lead role as a man who single-handedly unravelled India’s financial services industry .

The SonyLIV web-series is adapted from journalist Sucheta Dalal and Debashish Basu’s 1992 book The Scam: Who Won, Who Lost, Who Got Away and is a tale of his rise from humble origins into the ‘Big Bull’ of the Dalal Street. Directed by Hansal Mehta, the series has emerged as the highest rated show on IMDb’s “Top 10 Indian Web Series of 2020” list. With a rating of 9.4, it  received many positive reviews on IMDb.

However, the series did not win any awards at the inaugural Filmfare OTT Awards because it was released after the cut-off date for eligibility.

Paatal Lok

Paatal Lok (translation: Hell) is an Indian crime-thriller web-series that is based on Tarun Tejpal’s 2010 novel The Story of My Assassins. The Jaideep Ahlawat starrer series was produced by Bollywood actor Anushka Sharma and it featured on Amazon Prime Video in May 2020.

It is essentially a cop show with mythological tropes, that starts in New Delhi, crosses the tacit Yamuna border in East Delhi to go deeper into the hinterlands of Uttar Pradesh. With his memorable performance, Jaideep Ahlawat brings out the crude version of Delhi Police as he goes on to explore the communal and casteist abyss, riding on the back of an assassination case.

The series was nominated for eight categories at the Filmfare OTT Awards 2020 and won five awards for Best Series, Best Actor, Best Original Story, Best Screenplay and Best Direction. The Indian Express and HuffPost India ranked it as the best Hindi film/series of 2020. Variety rated the series as the Best International TV shows of 2020. For all its raw screenplay and darkness, it is dubbed as Amazon Prime’s Sacred Games.

Mirzapur 2

Mirzapur is a crime-action-thriller web-series on the drugs, crimes, governance and murders in the town of Mirzapur in Uttar Pradesh. With an 8.4 IMDb rating, the second season was much awaited after the success of the first season that was released in 2018.

Pankaj Tripathi, in all his dignity and usual rustic charm as Kaleen Bhaiya, with many heavyweights like Ali Fazal, Divyendu Sharma, Shweta Tripathi and others, plays in the blood-soaked territory of guns and risqué dialogues. While the first season sold for its bloodbath and curse words, the show rammed up the main course for the second season to create a plot for an ultimate player to be crowned as the King of Mirzapur.

While the first season received fairly average reviews from critics, it was widely treated as an “Anurag Kashyap rip-off.” The second season fared better as the critics rated it more than the first season. Ali Fazal was appreciated for hitting the top notch. The series was nominated in four categories in the 2019 iReel Awards and won the awards for Best Actor-Drama and Best Supporting Actor.

Jamtara: Sabka Number Ayega

Jamtara is a crime web-series that revolves around the phishing scam in the Jamtara district of Jharkhand. In 2015, the series writer Soumendra Padhi read about a phishing scam in Jharkhand that was carried out by a bunch of school students, which sparked his interest.

The story is a typical Bollywood plot where a politician wants his share in the bad money and a cop wants to bust them. A cast of newbies is hired to play these standard characters of a good-hearted bad guy who scams people to earn money he does not need. Moreover, the victims of these poor, uneducated criminals are all wealthy and educated urbanites and this is how the story depicts the class divide in the country.

Nevertheless, critics have called it “extremely binge-able” and able to do away with the big-budget Netflix failures. Jamtara scored a 7.3 on IMDb with good reviews.

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