Amazon Prime Video today announced a mega-slate of series, films and co-productions at a glitzy event in Mumbai today. The streaming giant unveiled glimpses into 22 scripted series, four films and four unscripted series, which will be premiered over a two-year-period.
Amazon also launched its transactional VoD service Amazon Prime Video Store, through which Prime customers can rent Indian and international features by paying per title. “India continues to be one of Prime Video’s fastest-growing and most engaged locale globally,” Gaurav Gandhi, the streamer’s India country head, said in a press release.
On Amazon’s deeper engagement with films, Gandhi added, “We are deeply committed to grow this segment further and are going bigger on our film licensing partnerships, expanding our co-production initiatives and are now excited to announce our foray into original movies.”
Aparna Purohit, head of India originals, said in the press release, “Our mission has been to tell compelling, authentic and rooted stories that not just connect with audiences in India but resonate with audiences across the world…. As we move forward, we are excited to partner with some of the most prolific creators to bring forth powerful stories across different formats, genres and languages for our customers.”
The event came on the heels of news that Amazon rival Netflix is shedding consumers globally. Some of Amazon’s collaborators include talent that had previously worked with Netflix India, including Karan Johar and Vikramaditya Motwane. Amazon’s competitors in India include SonyLIV, which has a small but buzzy slate of shows and films across Indian languages, and Disney+ Hotstar, which rolls out series and films.
Hindi series, from ‘Farzi’ to ‘Dahaad’
The upcoming fiction shows on Amazon India cut across genres and are in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. Among the Hindi titles is Reema Kagti’s serial killer series Dahaad, which “follows the investigations of a female inspector into a crime that shakes her core”. The show stars Sonakshi Sinha, Vijay Verma, Gulshan Devaiah and Sohum Shah.
Raj & DK, the duo behind The Family Man, have teamed up with Shahid Kapoor for Farzi. The series stars Kapoor in his streaming debut as well as Vijay Sethupathi, Kay Kay Menon, Raashi Khanna, Regina Cassandra and Kubbra Sait. The synopsis: “A small-time artist working out of his grandfather’s printing press has designed the ultimate con job – a crime uniquely suited to him – and gets pulled into the murky, high stakes world of all that it demands.”
Raj & DK are also the showrunners of Gulkanda Tales, a series directed by Rahi Anil Barve (Tumbbad) and starring Kunal Kemmu, Pankaj Tripathi and Patralekha.
Vikramaditya Motwane’s Jubilee, written by Atul Sabharwal, stars Bengali star Prosenjit Chatterjee, Aditi Rao Hyadri, Aparshakti Khurana and Wamiqa Gabi. “Set in a newly independent India, Jubilee is a period drama that unveils the stories and dreams that gave birth to Bollywood, as we know it,” says the synopsis.
Navdeep Singh (Manorama Six Feet Under, NH10) will helm Shehar – Lakhot, a crime series written by Singh and Devika Bhagat and starring Chandan Roy Sanyal, Priyanshu Painyuli, Kubbra Sait, Shruthy Menon, Manu Rishi Chadha and Kashyap Sanghari.
Adhura is “a supernatural thriller set in an elite boarding school”. Directed by Gauravv Chawla and Ananya Banerjee, the show stars Ishwak Singh and Rasika Dugal.
Bambai Meri Jaan is based on a story by S Hussain Zaidi and created by Rensil D’silva and Shujaat Saudagar. According to the synopsis, “In his quest to clean the mean streets of Bombay from the rise of organised crime in post-Independence India, an honest cop puts everything on the line including the thing he wants to protect the most, his family.” The cast includes Kay Kay Menon, Kritika Kamra, Avinash Tiwary and Amyra Dastur.
In PI Meena, directed by Debaloy Bhattacharya and written by Arindam Mitra, “A young, troubled, female private investigator gets thrown into a world, where she has to fathom the unfathomable and find her own self.” The cast included A Suitable Boy lead Tanya Maniktala, Jisshu Sengupta, Vinay Pathak, Parambrata Chattopadhyay and Samir Soni.
Karan Johar’s Dharmatic Entertainment has produced Call Me Bae, written by Ishita Moitra, Samina Motlekar and Rohit Nair. The synopsis: “Bae, billionaire fashionista is disowned by her ultra-rich family, owing to a salacious scandal and for the first time in her life, has to fend for herself. On this journey, she overcomes stereotypes and discovers who she really is. “
Actor and dialogue writer Vijay Maurya directs Crash Course, “a fictional account of two warring coaching institutes” and the impact this has on students. In the cast are Annu Kapoor, Bhanu Uday, Udit Arora, Pranay Pachauri, Siddharth Kak, Chirag Vohra, Gaurav Sharma and Bidita Bag.
Aatish Kapadia and Jamnadas Majethia direct the comedy Happy Family Conditions Apply, starring Raj Babbar, Ratna Pathak Shah, Atul Kulkarni and Ayesha Jhulka. Hush Hush, directed by Tanuja Chandra, Ashish Pandey and Kopal Naithani, is about the intersecting lives of five women. Juhi Chawla, Ayesha Jhulka, Soha Ali Khan, Karishma Tanna, Shahana Goswami and Kritika Kamra are in the cast.
Rohit Shetty’s Indian Police Force is a terrorism-themed action thriller starring Sidharth Malhotra, Shilpa Shetty, Vivek Oberoi and Isha Talwar. Arunima Sharma’s coming-of-age series Jee Karda, directed by Arunima Sharma and written by her and Hussain Dalal and Abbas Dalal, stars Tamannaah, Suhail Nayyar, Aashim Gulati, Anya Singh, Hussain Dalal, Samvedna Suwalka and Sayan Banerjee.
‘Modern Love’ spinoffs
The anthology series Modern Love, inspired by the New York Times column of the same name, has three Indian language spinoffs. The Hindi-language Modern Love Mumbai features short films by Hansal Mehta, Shonali Bose, Vishal Bhardwaj, Alankrita Shrivastava, Nupur Asthana and Dhruv Sehgal. The cast includes Tanuja, Naseeruddin Shah, Sarika, Arshad Warsi, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Pratik Gandhi, Masaba Gupta, Ritwik Bhowmik and Prateik Babbar.
The Tamil version Modern Love Chennai is directed by Bharathi Raja, Balaji Sakthivel, Raju Murugan, Krishnakumar Ramakumar and Akshay Sundher. The cast includes Kishore, Ramya Nambeesan, Ashok Selvan, Ritu Varma and Vijayalakshmi.
Modern Love Hyderabad has six chapters directed by Nagesh Kukunoor, Venkatesh Maha, Uday Gurrala and Devika Bahudanam. The cast includes Revathy, Suhasini Maniratnam, Aadhi Pinisetty and Nithya Menen.
Tamil and Telugu shows
The Tamil series include Milind Rau’s The Village, based on a graphic novel and about a family of mutants that chases another family on a road trip. The show is headlined by Arya, the star of Pa Ranjith’s Sarpatta Parambarai.
Vikram Vedha makers Pushkar-Gayathri are the showrunners of Suzhal – The Vortex. The series, directed by Bramma (Magalir Mattum) and Anucharan M (Kirumi), is about “an investigation into a simple missing person case unravels and rips the intricate social fabric of a small town”, according to the synopsis. The case includes Aishwarya Rajesh, Kathir, R Parthiban and Sriya Reddy.
Pushkar-Gayathri are also the creative producers on Vadhandhi: The Fable of Velonie. Directed by Andrew Louis and starring SJ Suryah, Laila, M Nasser and Sanjana, the show is a “noir thriller about the murder of a beautiful young girl, seen from the Rashomon-esque perspectives of an unrelenting obsessed cop, a novelist captivated by her grace and an opportunistic news editor”.
Sweet Kaaram Coffee is directed by Bejoy Nambiar, Krishna Marimuthu and debutante Swathi Raghuraaman. Its cast includes acting veteran Lakshmi, Madhoo and Santhy Balachandran as characters from the same family on a road trip.
Telugu actor Naga Chaitanya will make his web series debut in the supernatural horror-themed Dhoota. Directed by Vikram K Kumar, the show also stars Parvathy Thiruvothu and Priya Bhavani Shankar, Prachi Desai and Tharun Bhascker Dhaassyam.
AP Dhillon gets his own reality show
The non-scripted shows include a reality documentary centred on Punjabi hip hop singer AP Dhillon and Vasan Bala’s Cinema... Marte Dum Tak described as “a docuseries that explores the lives and times of four cult filmmakers from the world of camp-cinema, as they set out to make a film they’ve always dreamt of”. The filmmakers are J Neelam, Kishan Shah, Dilip Gulati and Vinod Talwar.
India Love Project is “a docuseries that shares the inspiring love stories of real people from across the country where each episode tells an unusual yet hopeful story through the eyes of the real couples”.
Dancing on The Grave, helmed by Ghoul director Patrick Graham, is “the story of a sensational crime with access to exclusive interviews, shocking footage and the perpetrator himself”.
Original films include ‘Ram Setu’
The streamer announced three Amazon original films. Charukesh Sekar’s Ammu (Telugu) stars Aishwarya Lekshmi, Naveen Chandra and Bobby Simha. The synopsis: “In an attempt to get her abusive husband suspended from police duty, Ammu does the unthinkable.”
Kannan Iyer’s Aye Watan…Mere Watan (Hindi) is about “a young girl who became uniquely instrumental to the freedom fight of Indian independence”. The film has been written and directed by Dabar Farooqui.
Anand Tiwari’s Maja Maa (Hindi), written by Sumit Batheja and starring Madhuri Dixit Nene, Gajraj Rao and Ritwik Bhowmik, is set in Vadodara and is about “a loving mother who unwittingly becomes a hurdle to her son’s marriage plans”.
In the list of co-productions is Anu Menon’s murder mystery Neeyat (Hindi), starring Vidya Balan as a detective. Abhishek Sharma’s Ram Setu is about “an atheist archaeologist turned believer” who proves “the true existence of the legendary Ram Setu” bridge. The film stars Akshay Kumar, Jacqueline Fernandes and Nushrratt Bharuccha.
Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Avneet Kaur stars in the romantic comedy Tiku Weds Sheru (Hindi), directed by Sai Kabir and written by Kabir and Amit Tiwari.