Netflix will roll out close to 40 original and licensed movies, new and recurring series, documentaries and shows in reality and comedy formats through 2021 and early 2022, Monika Shergill, the platform’s Vice President, Content, said on Wednesday.
“This is, for us, the biggest year in terms of films and series and originals,” Shergill told Scroll.in. “This is nearly 3x of what we did last year, and this doesn’t include the absolutely stellar licensed slate that we have.”
The line-up includes at least at 14 features, including the previously announced Bombay Rose, Bombay Begums, Dhamaka, Jagame Thandhiram and Pagglait. Chaitanya Tamhane’s The Disciple and Ivan Ayr’s Meel Patthar are among the platform’s acquisitions for the year.
The streaming platform will mark Satyajit Ray’s centenary year by releasing Ray, comprising adaptations of three of his short stories. They have been directed by Srijit Mukerji, Abhishek Chaubey and Vasan Bala and written by Niren Bhatt and Siraj Ahmed.
“It’s got an amazing cast, and every story has an amazing dark spin to it,” Shergill said. Among the actors are Manoj Bajpayee, Kay Kay Menon, Shweta Basu Prasad, Chandan Roy Sanyal, Bidita Bag, Dibyendu Bhattacharya, Harshvardhan Kapoor, Lovleen Misra, Raghubir Yadav and Manoj Pahwa.
Among the movies that will be premiered on Netflix is Vinil Mathew’s Haseen Dillruba, written by Kanika Dhillon and starring Taapsee Pannu, Vikrant Massey and Harshvardhan Rane. The official synopsis: “A woman whose heart longs to live like words captured in a novel finds herself entangled in the murder of her own husband.”
In Ram Madhvani’s Dhamaka, written along with Puneet Sharma, Kartik Aaryan plays a “frustrated ex-news anchor” who is “given another chance to go live on prime-time television when a terrorist calls him with a bomb threat”.
Meenakshi Sundareshwar, directed by Vivek Soni and written by him and Aarsh Vora, stars Abhimanyu Dassani and Sanya Malhotra as a couple who agree to an arranged marriage “because their first names together make Madurai’s famous temple” Meenakshi Sundareshwar. “However, when a job opportunity exclusively for single men pops up in Bengaluru, Sundareshwar has to leave his hometown and his wife Meenakshi, and pretend to be unmarried,” a press release stated.
Kaashvie Nair’s Sardar Ka Grandson, written by Anuja Chauhan, is a family drama with starring roles for Neena Gupta, Arjun Kapoor and Rakul Preet Singh.
Navarasa is a Tamil anthology film comprising nine stories. Produced by Mani Ratnam and Jayendra Panchapakesan, the feature has a cast that includes Revathy, Vijay Sethupathy, Parvathy Thiruvothu, Remya Nambeesan, Arvind Swamy, Siddarth, Prakashraj, Yogi Babu, Bobby Simha, Nedumudi Venu, Delhi Ganesh and Kishore.
Ajeeb Daastaans is also an anthology film, this time in Hindi, about relationships and directed by Shashank Khaitan, Raj Mehta, Neeraj Ghaywan and Kayoze Irani. The film comprises “four strangely contrasting stories which delves into fractured relationships and unexplored spaces”.
Shree Narayan Singh’s Bulbul Tarang, scripted by Arshad Sayeed, stars Sonakshi Sinha and Tahir Raj Bhasin. The synopsis: “Set in Kannauj, this film is about a chirpy young girl called Bulbul who has one simple dream – she wants her groom, Rishi Kumar, to come in his baraat atop a horse. Soon enough Bulbul realizes that her innocent, harmless wish will meet resistance in their traditional village.”
Veteran sibling directors Abbas-Mustan make a comeback with Penthouse, written by Girish Dhamija. Characters played by Bobby Deol, Arjun Rampal, Sharman Joshi, Mouni Roy, Cyrus Broacha, Tisca Chopra and Abrar Zahoor crams into a mansion where a body is found.
Jaadugar stars Jitendra Kumar as a magician who “has to win a local football tournament in order to marry the love of his life”. Sameer Saxena’s comedy has been written by Biswapati Sarkar and also stars Arushi Sharma.
The web series include Finding Anamika, written by Sri Rao and Nisha Mehta, directed by Karishma Kohli and Bejoy Nambiar and starring Madhuri Dixit, Manav Kaul and Sanjay Kapoor. The synopsis: “This is a suspenseful family drama about a global superstar, wife, and mom who suddenly vanishes without a trace. As police and loved ones search for answers to her disappearance, her perfectly crafted facade is stripped away, revealing hidden truths and painful lies in the life of an iconic actress.”
Decoupled, created by Manu Joseph and directed by Hardik Mehta, claims to be “an uncompromising comedy about the true nature of people, India and marriage”. The series stars R Madhavan and Surveen Chawla.
Aranyak, directed by Vinay Waikul and written by Charudutt Acharya, stars Raveena Tandon and Parambrata Chatterjee. The synopsis: “After a foreign teenage tourist disappears in the misty Himalayan town, a harried, local cop Kasturi must join hands with her city-bred replacement Angad, on a big-ticket case that digs up skeletons and revives a forgotten Himalayan myth of a bloodthirsty, serial killing entity in the forest.
Feels Like Ishq comprises love stories directed by Ruchir Arun, Tahira Kashyap Khurrana, Ashima Chibber, Anand Tiwari, Danish Aslam, Jaydeep Sarkar and Sachin Kundalkar.
In Mai, directed by Anshai Lal and Atul Mongia and written by Mongia, Amita Vyas and Tamal Kumar Sen, a “docile, 47-year-old wife-and-mother finds herself accidentally entangled in a web of white-collar crime and dirty politics…” The series stars Sakshi Tanwar, Wamiqa Gabbi, Vivek Mushran, Prashant Narayanan, Raima Dev Varma and Seema Pahwa.
Sidharth Sengupta’s series Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein stars Tahir Raj Bhasin, Shweta Tripathi, Anchal Singh, Saurabh Shukla, Surya Sharma and Brijendra Kala. The synopsis: “Think of the most dreaded villain! What if he has a daughter who truly, deeply, madly falls in love with you? What if you don’t love her back?”
Part of the comedy slate is a previously announced show by Kapil Sharma and the competitive Comedy Premier League. The platform will also host specials by Sumukhi Suresh, Aakash Gupta, Rahul Dua and Prashasti Singh.
Among the documentary series is Searching For Sheela, a portrait of the controversial Rajneesh acolyte Anand Sheela. “Sheela, having re-shot to fame since the mega reception to the Netflix documentary Wild Wild Country, is now parceling her life to the world,” the synopsis states. “Searching for Sheela is an intimate look into her journey across India, observing the rebranding of her as a pop-culture icon, with audiences unable to decide if they deem her a ‘criminal’ or remain in awe of her badass secretary days.”
Crime Stories: India Detectives will follow investigations conducted by the Bengaluru City Police. In House of Secrets: The Burari Deaths, showrunner Leena Yadav reopens the Burari case, in which 11 members of a family were found dead inside their house in Delhi.
Indian Predator, directed by Umesh Kulkarni, Ayesha Sood, Ashwin Shetty and Dheeraj Jindal, “attempts to decode the minds of some of India’s deadliest killers”.
The reality series Social Currency profiles eight social media influencers who are “put to test in the real world without their super power – their blue tick verified, and highly followed accounts”, the press release stated.
Netflix’s subscription base in India has been “steadily increasing”, Monika Shergill said (the streamer doesn’t share subscription numbers or data on viewership). Indian viewers look out for movies the most on the platform, followed by crime shows and romcoms, she added.
Although the Hindi film industry is returning to the cinemas in a big way starting from March, movies will continue to premiere on the platform, Shergill added.
“We have always had a robust slate of original and licensed films,” she said. “We always lean into programming multi-titles at any point in time. For us, nothing changes since we have always programmed across genres. We are actually happy that cinemas are opening because the licensed slate comes on the service.”
The Information and Broadcasting Ministry’s recently issued guidelines to regulate digital news sites, social platforms and streamers will not affect Netflix in any significant way, Shergill claimed.
Under the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, streamers will be regulated under the provisions of the Information Technology Act. They will need to self-classify content on the basis of age and levels of explicitness. A non-judicial adjudicatory process has also been instituted to address grievances about content on streamers.
“We have always had the consideration of being considerate about Indian viewers,” Shergill said. “The role of the government and the industry is to do the best for consumers. We have looked at stories that resonate with people, and that is what we will continue doing.”