In 2020-21, women comprised 52% of major characters appearing on streaming programs but 45% on broadcast network programs according to research by Women in Film and Television. In India, while there is no readily available statistic, many women are taking centre stage in short web series. New programming is showing them in bold lead roles and audiences are rewarding them with views.
Among the women-centric web series that are a must-watch, here are my 11 picks:
1. Geeli Pucchi, Ajeeb Daastaans
We love a good helping of modern feminism in our shows. Geeli Pucchi emphasised the importance of a strong female character. It chronicles the professional and personal development of characters in the face of her workplace’s insidious casteism, as well as the character’s experience as a queer person in a small town. The drama, which is part of the anthology Ajeeb Daastaans, is about two women from different backgrounds and exposes society’s deep-seated prejudices.
In Neeraj Ghaywan’s story Geeli Pucchi, the factory’s only female employee is Bharti Mondal (Konkona Sen Sharma) finds Priya Sharma (Aditi Rao Hydari) bag the white-collar job she applied for. Bharti assists Priya in recognising and accepting the image of what society considers the “ideal woman,” although she is far from it. Women who are docile, smile, dress up and dress the part are appreciated by men. Ghaywan’s story ultimately reveals how women in India are still marginalised, regardless of caste.
It can be found on Netflix.
Here is when Konkona Spoke to SheThePeople:
2. Bombay Begums
Bombay Begums stars Pooja Bhatt, Shahana Goswami, Amruta Subhash, and Plabita Borthakur as a group of strong women attempting to carve out and maintain a position of power in Mumbai’s patriarchal society. The women, known as “begums” or “queens,” come from a variety of backgrounds. They are all strong and intelligent people, but as their personal and professional lives collide, they are constantly confronted by old cultural traditions and modern misogyny, regardless of their lived experiences.
Despite being a work of fiction, Bombay Begums makes a powerful statement about women’s struggles in India today, regardless of their education or privilege, due to sexism.
It can be found on Netflix.
This is what Pooja Bhatt had to say about playing Rani:
The crime drama series Aarya is inspired by a Dutch show named Penoza. The titular role is played by Sushmita Sen in this web series. You’ll notice how well the phrase “even in the best families” is used in Aarya. Aarya Sareen, a super-fit mother of three appears to have it all on the outside: a loving husband and a lavish lifestyle. Aarya tells the story of a woman thrust into the spotlight of her family’s shady business. After initial trepidation, she takes command and grows in confidence as she faces one challenge after another to save her family after she loses her husband.
Season 2 of this Hindi language female-centric Indian series has now been announced and is in the making. It can be found on Disney+Hotstar.
4. Delhi Crime
The show has the backdrop of the infamous Nirbhaya gang rape that occurred in Delhi in 2012. It starred Shefali Shah, Rasika Dugal, Adil Hussain, and Rajesh Tailang, which was released by Netflix last year. The trailer for Delhi Crime Season 2 was released about a month ago.
While we were all aware of the details that surfaced in the media about the infamous Nirbhaya case, most of us were unaware of the investigation carried out by the Delhi Police to apprehend the rapists. The show delves into one of the rapists’ minds during his interrogation, and the graphic details he reveals about the reason for his crime, which he commits without remorse, haunt you. One of the most difficult parts of this seven-part series to watch is the interrogation of the criminals, but it reveals a truth about people’s mindsets that is right in front of our eyes. The show depicts the psyche of the criminals.
Delhi Crime was the first Indian series to win the Outstanding Drama Series award at the 2020 International Emmy Awards.
Here is when Shefali Shah spoke to us about becoming a director.
5. Girls Hostel – Season 1 and 2
Four girls from different backgrounds form an unlikely friendship when they move to the SVM Dental College Girls hostel. To get ahead in the future, these girls will have to fight tooth and nail. Ahsaas Channa, Simran Natekar and Shreya Mehta are among the lead actors of Girls Hostel. With the tagline “Why can’t girls have all the fun?” it’s a lighthearted binge-watch series. The series highlights serious issues like bullying and eve-teasing. While the first season of Girls Hostel was lighter and more humorous, the second focused on several serious issues, making it a more serious watch.
The show is available on TVF.
6. Engineering Girls
Engineering Girls Season 1 is a five-episode show starring Krithika Avasthi, Barkha Singh, and Sejal Kumar. The show follows the lives of girls who live in an engineering girls’ hostel. Season 1 of this series, directed by Apoorv Singh Karki, premiered on Netflix in 2018. Because many female founders and engineers are doing incredible work in STEM fields, but their perspectives and worlds are rarely seen in mainstream content, Engineering Girls set out to change that with its seasons.
SHE, a seven-part series, is one of the top ten most-watched shows on Netflix in India. The story of a cop who goes undercover as a sex worker is told in this crime drama starring Aditi Pohankar. Bhumi is a Mumbai police officer, who then transforms into a sleazy hooker in no time. Her demeanour was the clincher in determining her personality. She handled both extremes admirably. Imtiaz Ali’s series depicts the role of a woman’s body in asserting authority over her oppressors.
8. Masaba Masaba
This one is for those who enjoy a lighthearted but not boring show. This show depicts the lives of designer Masaba Gupta and her super-fabulous mother, Neena Gupta.
Masaba Masaba is all about honouring women who defy cultural expectations. Neena Gupta raised Masaba Gupta as a single mother while juggling her career and parenting. Masaba, on the other hand, is divorced and is always struggling with her business. They’re at odds with each other as well as with others. The battle between an overbearing mother and an independent-minded daughter has been played out many times, but they always end up back together. Masaba Gupta steps into the role of herself and nails it.
The show, Pushpavalli, stars Sumukhi Suresh as a comedian, has a surprising number of layers. This one is a must-see for anyone looking for a little levity on the side, from bullying to societal expectations. The majority of the issues raised in the show will resonate with today’s audience, Whether it’s the way working mothers are judged by others, Pankaj’s attempt to teach a child about dealing with women’s issues like periods to Vasu’s devil may care attitude toward divorce or the dynamics of the arranged marriage market.
Sumukhi Suresh plays a young woman who is having difficulty fitting in with her surroundings. It is available on Prime.
10. Four More Shots Please! – Season 1 and 2
It is the story about the friendship of four girls Sayani Gupta, Bani J, Kriti Kulhari, and Maanvi. For years, women have watched stories about men and have never complained that the film is skewed toward men. We’ve never used the tag men-flick before. The show was not created to be a female-only show. It’s the men who think it’s a chick flick, and it’s past time for us to stop watching shows through one gender’s eyes.
Seasons 1 and 2 of this female-centric desi series are now available on Amazon Prime Video, with Season 3 on the way. This is an excellent watch for a girls’ night out.
It’s a show about a mother who has lost her child and wants to find him, but she runs into a lot of difficulties and gets herself into a lot of trouble. As the threat of impending doom looms, fear makes you uneasy. The show revolves around the character of Huma Qureshi. The series, which is available on Netflix, also stars Siddharth, Rahul Khanna, and a slew of other actors.
The dystopian drama Leila, a Netflix India original and has captivated audiences with its gritty, powerful, and brave story.
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