Sutliyan, meaning twine, could easily have had another title courtesy the American humourist Erma Bombeck. The Zee5 web series is about the ties that bind and gag members of a family that reunites following the father’s death.

Sutliyan also refers to the macrame items produced by the matriarch Supriya (Ayesha Raza). Supriya’s brood brings along memories of happier times together as well as new headaches.

The eldest son Rajan (Shiv Panditt) is bankrupt and wants his mother Supriya (Ayesha Raza) to sell the family plot to tide over his financial crisis. Ramani (Plabita Borthakur) is deeply attached to the family legacy and resents Rajan’s decision. The youngest son Raman (Vivaan Shah) is a pot-loving drifter in love with a married woman.

The reunion exposes the underlying tension as well as resolves it. Ramani often plays peacemaker between her aggressive older brother and her freewheeling younger sibling. The siblings are united in their consternation about Supriya’s closeness to neighbour Trilok (Suneel Sinha).

Ayesha Raza in Sutliyan (2022). Courtesy Manor Rama Pictures/Zee5.

Writers Sudeep Nigam and Abhishek Chatterjee rustle up a drama filled with warmth, humour and progressive thought (except for the suggestion that Raman participates in public rallies only because he is paid to). According to the publicity material, the show’s director is Shree Narayan Singh (Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, Batti Gul Meter Chalu). But for unknown reasons, the direction of Sutliyan has been credited to “Small Town Films”.

This entity can’t avoid the cliches that tend to bedevil family sagas, especially those concerning inheritance, or the need to simplistically unravel deeply knotty problems. Among the show’s most welcome rewrites is its treatment of relationships. Unconventional bonds emerge where least expected, and are treated with openness rather than shock.

The principal cast, which includes Niharika Lyra Dutt as the object of Raman’s affection, is uniformly compelling. With eight episodes of under 25 minutes each, Sutliyan is as modest as its charms, saying what has been said before with minimum fuss and palpable feeling.

Sutliyan (2022).