While last week was a little light in terms of Indian titles, this week’s OTT releases are flooded with films and Web series of Indian origin. Firstly, we have Netflix’s Bhakshak, where a local reporter in rural Bihar tries to expose the harrowing reality of an orphanage where young girls are abused. The film, based on a real-life incident, depicts political indifference and backing to the people involved.
Another Indian original comes in the form of Lantrani, a heartwarming collection of three stories based in small towns and villages. A brainchild of three national-award winning directors, Lantrani will give you a taste of the simplicity and absurdity of life in small pockets of India, where people do weird things to survive. The film can be streamed free of cost on Zee5.
Two big South Indian productions — Mahesh Babu’s Guntur Kaaram and Dhanush’s Captain Miller — have also had a post-theatrical Netflix release this week. While the former explores the relationship of a rowdy man and his mother, who abandoned him and re-married years ago, Captain Miller takes place in pre-Independence era, where a small tribe is facing oppression at the hands of both the British, as well as the upper caste.
Netflix has also dropped two new interesting documentaries. In Lover, Stalker, Killer, you’ll meet a mechanic who took to online dating for casual relationships and instead found an obsessive woman who would well… love, stalk and probably kill. Raël: The Alien Prophet will introduce you to a French man who started a UFO-inspired religion, which soon spiralled into a controversial cult.
In terms of international titles, there is A Killer Paradox: a South Korean crime thriller where an ordinary man accidentally kills a serial killer; Ashes: an intimate psychological Turkish drama where a wealthy woman finds the lost excitement of her life in an unfinished novel; One Day: a British film where a boy and girl meet for the first time on their graduation night and part ways, after which their lives are portrayed on same date each year; and Alpha Males Season 2: a Spanish television comedy where the men are finding their patriarchal privileges to slowly dwindle.
If you are not in the mood to experiment and want to binge-watch something critics-approved, we recommend Abbott Elementary, whose third season dropped on Hotstar on February 7. It is a workplace comedy set in a Philadelphia public school where a group of dedicated teachers, and an oblivious principal, are determined to help their students succeed in life despite the many challenges. The show has so far won four Primetime Emmy Awards and three Golden Globe Awards.
If you are looking for new kid-friendly releases to binge-watch with your little ones, you can go for Dee & Friends in Oz, where a regular kid goes on a musical journey to save magic after being transported into the land of Oz by a mysterious key. Or you could pick Luz: The Light of the Heart, in which a young girl sets out on an adventure to find out the truth about her roots after being raised in Kaingang community all these years.
Sushmita Sen Starrer Aarya is also concluding this week with all four episodes of the third season’s second part (Aarya: Antim Vaar) dropping on February 9. Speaking of series concluding, Amazon miniTV’s Crushed is also wrapping up with its final season, releasing on the same day.
With that, here are the top five OTT releases this week. Happy binge-watching!
When: Now Streaming
Where: Disney+ Hotstar
The new leader (Zawe Ashton) of the Kree Empire is now on the search for a new planet after the present one becomes completely barren post Captain Marvel’s (Brie Larson) destruction of the Super Intelligence. However, she accidentally discovers one of the two legendary Quantum Bands instead, which is used to make space travel faster.
One thing leads to another, and soon Captain Marvel’s superpowers get entangled with those of Kamala Khan a.k.a Ms. Marvel (Iman Vellani) and Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris). The trio must now find a way to master this “quantum entanglement” and come together to save the world. And if you are wondering whether the film has fan moments of Ms. Marvel and Captain Marvel, be assured; there are plenty!
The Marvels is the sequel to the film Captain Marvel (2019), a continuation of the television miniseries Ms. Marvel (2022), and the 33rd film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).
The film could only be rented on Apple TV, Google Play and YouTube until now.
When: Now Streaming
Bhakshak is an intriguing thriller based on the shocking real-life incident in Bihar, where minor girls were being abused in a shelter home. Here Bhumi Pednekar plays Vaishali Singh, a daring but struggling investigative journalist who similarly comes across an orphanage being run by a high-ranking figure. As her character keeps digging deeper into the case, the rotting reality of crime against women as well as that of the administrative and judicial shortcomings of our country keep coming to the surface. The gritty film by Shah Rukh Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment can be streamed in Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu. Sanjay Mishra also plays a pivotal role.
When: Now Streaming
Lantrani is a collection of three stories from the heartland of India by National Award-winning directors. The screenplay comes from Durgesh Singh, who wrote the second and third seasons of Gullak.
The first story has Johny Lever playing a cop who finally lands an important job of taking a prisoner to the court after being stuck to a desk job for the first 25 years of his career. But when a few incidents change his perspective towards the accused, Lever’s character finds himself at a moral crossroads.
A schedule caste woman gets selected as a first-time member of the Sarpanch in the second story. However, when she realises that she doesn’t really have any real powers (umm because her crime is being a woman, that too in a lower caste), she and her husband — that would be Jitendra Kumar of Panchayat and Kota Factory fame — decide to sit in on a silent protest outside the DDO office.
The final story will take you back to the COVID-19 pandemic when a lot of products falsely claimed to offer protection against the virus. Here a defunct news channel finds hope during the pandemic in the form of its new potential sponsor – Covinaash, a hand sanitiser which claims to extend complete protection against the deadly virus.
When: Now Streaming
If you are a fan of Telugu action cinema and familial storylines, Guntur Kaaram could be your pick for the weekend. Here we see Mahesh Babu playing Ramana, whose mother (Ramya Krishna) abandoned him years ago (like Ramya’s another popular character in Baahubali: The Beginning) and remarried. When she decides to run for office, Ramana’s folks ask him to sign a document denying that he is her son. Our rowdy hero, however, refuses to officiate the termination of their relationship and confronts her and finds the real reason behind her leaving.
Although the film didn’t score exceptionally well in direction, screenplay and cinematography, Mahesh Babu’s performance was a hit amongst the cinephiles. Initially released theatrically on January 12, Guntur Kaaram can now be streamed on Netflix in Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam, and Kannada.
When: Now Streaming
Where: Prime Video
Imagine being born in a lower caste tribe and being oppressed your entire life. And when your people build a magnificent temple, that even the British have their eyes on, the king banishes them from entering it.
If even the slightest opportunity to earn respect, authority, and power comes along, wouldn’t you grab onto it desperately? This is precisely what Captain Miller’s Analeesan Eesa (Dhanush) does when he joins the British army.
It doesn’t, however, take him longer to figure out that the Westerners are just the bigger devil who wants him to be a part of their injustice. This is when Eesa a.k.a Captain Miller decides to quit the army and fight for the justice of his people in his own way.
Captain Miller was a box-office hit and enjoyed an aggregate rating of 89 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. If you are looking for a refreshing take on the freedom struggle, this makes for a perfect choice.