Dev DD, Romil and Jugal, Boygiri: Five ALT Balaji web series worth investing in
Looks like it's a good time for digital content in India right now.
Let's call it the post-The Viral Fever, All India Bakchod phase: where the new wings of the biggest movie production houses in India have started investing in digital content.
One of the most noticeable moves was by Y-Films (the younger version of Yash Raj Films), when they came up with Bang Baaja Baaraat. The web series turned out to be one of the most loved and talked about one of its time. This wave now has reached several other production houses with Balaji Entertainment having launched ALT Balaji and Dharma Productions all set with Dharma 2.0.
The cluster of web series in discussion in this piece is by ALT Balaji, who has launched five shows on their web site and few episodes on YouTube.
These five series deal with different topics, ones that you might not see on Indian TV, from a gay love story to extra marital relationships to feminism.
Starting with my best pick out of the five, Dev DD is the story of Devika and is based in Rajasthan. She is, by Indian societal standards, a twisted psycho. Devika is a girl who believes in gender equality. She is someone who does not want to live in the bubble of Rajasthan, where there are separate rules for men and women. She drinks, she smokes and does not want to get married to her boyfriend because of his control freak mother who wouldn't let her work after marriage.
Asheema Vardaan in the lead as Devika is a fire cracking performer and is an excellent cast, by director Sunny Kapoor.
ROMIL AND JUGAL
Think about the quintessential Bollywood love story: one where the girl finally meets her prince, slow motion, dance, music, drama, action, fights and a whole bunch of other typical stuff. Now remove the girl from the scene, and put another guy, and there you have my next pick from ALT Balaji's library: Romil and Jugal.
The show creates a gay love story adding all the typical Indian daily soap elements to it. If slow motion hair flying in the wind is what we typically associate with heterosexual love stories, ALT Balaji went ahead and applied the same in a homosexual love story in the best possible way.
Some of our movies are known to represent homosexuality in black and white. Romil and Jugal gets the perfect balance, and that's really hard to achieve. A big shoutout to Rajeev Siddhartha and Manraj Singh, who are the lead pair in the series, for doing this in the first place, and for performing those characters to perfection.
Exactly like the title, Boygiri is the story of a bunch of boys who are friends. All five of them are imperfect, weird and have different problems going on in their lives. The essence of this series is pure fun. There is no one story line or plot that's travelling through the episodes. Each episodes deals with a new issue and is about the boys who deal with it.
This simple series has a humour as its foundation. Manjot Sinha plays Aadhar Khurana and is easily the most entertaining character in Boygiri. Next in line is Chaitanya Sharma who plays Advait Malhotra. He is the quintessential stud - good looking, rich, girl magnet.
BEWAFAA SI WAFAA
While the look and feel of this series imitates one of Balaji Entertainment's daily soaps, Bewafaa si Wafaa is new, strong and talks about something that we still itch to talk about today - extra marital relationships. The story is about Sumer and Meghana played by Sameer Soni and Aditi Vasudev respectively. They're both married but to different people. Sumer and Meghana fall love with each other because of the lack of excitement, thrill and romance in their respective marriages.
Now this is an interesting plot. However, Bewafaa Si Wafaa eventually becomes a typical melodramatic daily soap but on digital. While the performances from Sameer Soni, Aditi Vasudev and Yudhishtir Urs lifts the series to a better level, the melodramatic story and screenplay pulls it down.
KARRLE TU BHI MOHABBAT
Karrle Tu Bhi Mohabbat has the iconic television pair Ram Kapoor and Sakshi Tanwar coming together once again. The pair that was last seen in Bade Achhe Lagte Hain was appreciated a lot and immensely loved by the audience. In this series, Ram Kapoor plays a super star who is loosing his career because of depression post divorce and substance abuse.
Sakshi Tanwar plays a doctor in a de-addiction centre and is appointed to rehabilitate Ram's character. While Ram's character Karan Khanna is pompous and throws tantrums, he is also in great pain because of his family who left him. Dr. Nagarajan, played by Sakshi Tanwar, is disciplined and has a 100 percent track record in rehabilitating every patient of her's.
Karrle Tu Bhi Mohabbat is nothing less than a full fledged Indian daily soap. Huge sets, loud costumes, music, dance, and weddings are a part of this too.